The European Left is plotting to make mass illegal immigration“unavoidable”, the prime minister of Italy said in the latest sign of deep EU divisions over migration.
Giorgia Meloni accused European Leftists, including the EU’s chief diplomat, of undermining a deal with Tunisia to curb illegal Mediterranean crossings.
“The will of the European Left is to make mass illegal immigration unavoidable”, she said before a speech on migration to the UN General Assembly.
Ms Meloni will call on the international community for help on Wednesday evening in New York, after more than 130,000 migrants and refugees reached Italy this year.
The EU promised millions of euros in aid, trade and investment in return for Tunisian authorities blocking boat departures. But no funds have yet been paid out from Brussels, which Rome blames for the recent surge in landings because of a lack of Tunisian patrols.
“It’s important that the memorandum with Tunisia is taken forward,” Ms Meloni said. It was a “model” that could form the basis for similar deals with other migrant source countries, the Italian prime minister said.
Ms Meloni attacked Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, after the Spanish socialist said member states expressed “incomprehension” over the rushed deal with Tunisia. Mr Borrell made the comments in a September letter to the European Commission.
“It is sad to see that part of the Italian and European political forces, for ideological reasons or, worse, for political calculation, are rowing against and doing everything to dismantle the work being carried out,” Ms Meloni said.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signed the deal in July alongside Ms Meloni and Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands.
“Several member states expressed their incomprehension regarding the commission’s unilateral action on the conclusion of this and concerns about some of its contents,” Mr Borrell wrote of the deal.
“When the European Commission signs an agreement, that agreement must then be respected,” Italy’s foreign minister Antonio Tajani said.
Mrs von der Leyen travelled to Lampedusa on Sunday before unveiling a 10-point plan, including a naval mission, to tackle the crisis. But, in another sign of the bitter splits over migration within the bloc, Poland passed a resolution against an EU plan to resettle refugees from Italy elsewhere in the EU.
Under the plan, EU countries take in a quota of asylum seekers or pay for each one they reject.
“The whole of Europe, the whole EU, may become Lampedusa if we continue to commit the same old mistakes, the scheme and mechanisms that the Commission proposed,” said Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister.
Alongside elections in Poland in October, Poles will be asked in a referendum if they “support accepting thousands of irregular migrants from the Middle East and Africa in accordance with the forced relocation mechanism imposed by European bureaucrats”.
Imogen Sudbery, of the International Rescue Committee, said it was time to recognise that “migration is a fact of life”.
“Building walls or other barriers will not stop people from risking their lives in search of protection. While cooperating with non-EU countries on migration is important, turning Europe’s neighbours into gatekeepers will not work - it will only push people into the hands of traffickers and divert them onto more dangerous routes,” she said.
“The solution lies in a comprehensive system founded on greater solidarity and responsibility-sharing, with a particular focus on relocating people away from states on Europe’s borders, and the opening up of safe pathways to access asylum.”