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Lampedusa: Gérald Darmanin in action with his EU counterparts

The standoff of the Ocean Viking is long gone.

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Lampedusa: Gérald Darmanin in action with his EU counterparts

The standoff of the Ocean Viking is long gone. In November 2022, the French government did not have harsh enough words against the Italian Prime Minister, accused of having diverted a ship carrying 230 migrants who had to be received in disaster in the port of Toulon. In September 2023, more than 11,000 migrants landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa in five days, and Giorgia Meloni's call for help immediately sparked a surge of solidarity.

The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, will travel to Italy on Monday to meet his counterpart Matteo Piantedosi, at the request of Emmanuel Macron who spoke with Giorgia Meloni. The meeting would take place in Rome and not Lampedusa. This island where migrants converge has become the symbol of what François-Noël Buffet, Les Républicains (LR) president of the Law Commission in the Senate, calls “the failure of European immigration policy”. These migrants are therefore Ivorian, Egyptian, Guinean, Tunisian. What is happening in the Sahel, with these repeated coups d’état, will have a new impact. Tunis, for its part, is demanding European aid, as Turkey receives, to better retain flows.

Also read: Lampedusa: is Italy facing the worst African migratory wave in its history?

“Once again, when the emergency is upon us, Brussels is on the street,” deplores Senator Buffet. To hear her say, Ms. von der Leyen’s trip to Lampedusa would just be a smokescreen. Above all, he remembers the ouster, in April 2022, of the Frenchman Fabrice Leggeri from the head of the European border control agency Frontex, an obvious sign of a “softening”.

France is not exemplary either, in his eyes: “See the Ocean Viking affair last year. Due to a lack of appropriate legal procedures, the migrants who disembarked all disappeared.” The Darmanin-Dussopt bill was supposed to provide corrective measures, but it is bogged down due to lack of a majority in Parliament. Alternative texts exist, defended by the right. That of the Senate will be debated at the beginning of November.

For now, after the time of emotion, the heads of the executive from Paris to Rome, via Berlin, have committed to “strengthening cooperation at the European level (…) to find effective, immediate solutions and longer term to this crisis. The “duty of European solidarity” with Italy takes precedence. But Éric Ciotti, the boss of LR, warns: “If France enters into a logic of distribution of migrants, it is the door open to even more massive arrivals.” His constitutional proposal on immigration promotes “asylum at the borders”. To choose in advance those migrants who truly fall under refugee status, “without suffering” economic migration which circumvents the rules by presenting the host country with a fait accompli. Gérald Darmanin, who needs LR, is walking on a tightrope.

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