By forbidding the landing of 629 migrants rescued by the Aquarius, the Italian Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini launched a stone in the garden of what can be called the “system” now. That “system”, meaning the Member States of the European Union and their means of governance, remained blind in front of migrations’ challenge. Demographers foresee a doubling of African population in the next 30 years. Next to people who are fleeing wars, climate change’s victims will be added. And the latter will unfortunately be more and more if the inertia is prolonged in the area of development aid.
From my mission in Sicily, in July 2015, I have kept the memory that Europe, in the name of national sovereignty, let Italian authorities manage and take care of the welcoming of migrants passing through Libya. A Libya without a State since the tragic incidents of “Arab Springs”. From this period onwards, after a series of tragic events transforming the Mediterranean Sea into a marine cemetery, the criminal organisations which embarked migrants, dispossessed from their personal belongings, in “rotten” ships were alerting the Italian maritime services in order to let them secure the highly-risked crossing.
Once arrived in Italy, through Lampedusa Island or Sicily, the unfortunate passengers were asking for the recognition of their refugee’s status. The instruction process, in compliance with the outdated Dublin agreements, prevailed for Italian authorities asked to authorise the hosting of the asylum seekers crowd. The financial support from Europe to Italy represented only a small part of the whole expenditure.
The Commission vainly attempted to take Member States out of their blindness and their incapacity to collectively respond to massive migrations’ perspectives. The generosity of ones was opposed by the selfishness of others. The disorder and the confusion allowed the supporters of the “withdrawal into themselves” and the comeback of national borders to speak out. The Italian voters, on March 4, have given the power to a Europhobic coalition gathering the Liga (far-right) and the 5 Stars Movement.
The new Spanish government opened its doors to the Aquarius. The latter could have tried to accost in France, or to cross the Gibraltar strip in order to join the North or Baltic Sea. This episode should help us to become aware of what is waiting for us and the responsibility that falls to us if we plan to respect our heritage of Christian humanism. The challenge of migrations can only be taken up by the Union of the Member States. Instruction of asylum demands, welcoming and insertion of refugees, borders’ surveillance, mitigation of migration sources through the re-establishment of peace in the Middle East and strong development aid to Africa, are priority actions that can be undertaken efficiently and sustainably only at the European level.