The only institution capable of solving the migration problem is the European Union, this is the point on which the two MEPs hosted by Generazione Europa Pietro Bartolo of the Democratic Party and Vincenzo Sofo of Fratelli d’Italia they agree, but many disagreements emerge on the actions to be taken at Community level. “Why doesn’t Europe open its doors to all eligible migrants as it did to the Ukrainians?” asks Bartolo. “Because he doesn’t have the resources to do it,” says Sofo.
The shipwreck in Crotone
The massacre in Crotone where over sixty migrants lost their lives last Sunday is a reason for condolences for the deputies: “Who knows how many more bodies the sea will give us back…”, says Bartolo recalling when the 2013 migrant shipwreck on Lampedusa took days to recover the 368 victims.
The words of Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi weigh heavily on the Crotone affair: “If I were desperate I wouldn’t leave because I was brought up to be responsible, not to always ask what I should expect from my country, but also to think about what I can give for the country”. Words considered inappropriate by the opposition in reference to migrants returning from a tragedy.
The controversy over the words of Minister Piantedosi
If for Bartolo the minister’s sentences are unacceptable, for Sofo the Minister of the Interior would have mistaken the form of his message which, however, the deputy of the Brothers of Italy judges essentially correct: “There is a problem of pull factor, that is, of those factors that push migrants to leave and among these, perhaps involuntarily, there are also the NGOs”, he says. For the MEP, migrants often decide to use dilapidated boats also because they are convinced that there are NGOs ready to save them.
There is much debate on the question of the “pull factor”, ie whether migratory flows undergo an increase linked to the presence of NGOs at sea. According to the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) the “pull factor” would be a false myth not supported by the data. Those who argue to the contrary often cite a document by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which in the past has hypothesized a link between the presence of NGOs and the departures of migrants.
Shared solutions at European level
For both deputies, the Crotone tragedy must be an opportunity to address the migration issue at a European level. To solve the problem, according to Sofo, a European policy of stabilization and development of conflict areas is needed, in order to create the conditions so that people do not leave for humanitarian and economic reasons. “Our country’s agreements with Libya, for example, are struggling to work because Libya is a completely out of control country – he says – precisely because there is a lack of a European stabilization and development policy in these areas of conflict”.
For Bartolo, the stabilization of the countries from which the migrants come is an important issue, but one that cannot be tackled in the short term. “We need to focus on what we can do now. Why does Europe open its doors to Ukrainians and not to all the people who, like them, have the right and need to?”, he says, also underlining that Europe – an increasingly old continent – would benefit from it economically and demographic.
The two deputies also criticize their respective parties’ approach to immigration with Bartolo underlining that he has never shared the agreements with Libya signed by the Gentiloni government: “We were even the first to initiate those treaties, then renewed several times by the various successive governments”.
While Sofo condemns the superficiality sometimes used to reach consensus: “I have never agreed with the simplistic narrative on immigration such as the one according to which migrants are not poor because of the smartphones they carry with them”. According to the deputy, those mobile phones are often delivered by the traffickers themselves to convince migrants to embark on the journey. “With those screens they show him a sweetened world by promising him that this is Europe, but that’s not the case,” he says.