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Von der Leyen and Meloni differ over migration visions

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s priorities are to block departures, also through a European naval mission, and to speed repatriations up, while EU Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen stressed the need for legal routes and humanitarian corridors to defeat traffickers during a joint press conference in Lampedusa.

The press conference showed Meloni’s abandonment of nationalism: rather than invoking national sovereignty and solutions, as in the past, she called for European solutions. Meloni offered a vision of a fortress Europe, reiterating that the issue is not how to redistribute migrants within the EU but how to stop illegal departures.

She also called for more agreements with North African countries on the Tunisian model and asked the EU to support the Tunisian budget even without an agreement between Tunisia and the International Monetary Fund.

Meloni also proposed a European naval mission not to rescue migrants but to fight the smugglers and stop departures. She also called for more effective EU instruments for repatriations, as well as greater UN involvement and announced that Italy will extend the custody time for migrants to be repatriated to 18 months, the legal maximum according to European standards and that the Defence Ministry will help with the construction of the necessary facilities.

Von der Leyen highlighted the excellent cooperation with Italy and reiterated that migration is “a European challenge that requires European solutions”, based on “solidarity and unity”. She added in Italian that “Italy can count on the European Union”.

However, she essentially rejected Meloni’s vision.

Von der Leyen offered an action plan in 10 points. Her focus was as much on repressing traffickers as on managing migrations, creating legal routes and humanitarian corridors to protect migrants and defeats smugglers. She called for a swift approval and implementation of the Pact on Migration and Asylum and of her action plan.

(Roberto Castaldi Euractiv.it)

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