Italy´s PM, Matteo Renzi – who is also the Secretary of the center-left party Partito Democratico – published an editorial on the NYTimes on April 22nd.
I believe that nobody will be crossed if I say that his words have not moved the discussion or the solution to the problems by a single cm (or inch if you like).
Here follow my comments on the main points of the article, summarized by considering among many things the 10-points-plan, as released after the Joint Meeting of Foreign and Interior Ministers of April 20th. Press release
Counting words sometimes help. If you are looking for a general tone of the op-ed, well be assured that traffick(-ers)ing (6) or illegal migration (2) are much handier concepts, which the PM uses to describe the priorities to tackle. Though talking about carnage and tragedy in the opening lines, there is no reference to the legal status the migrants shall or could be granted under the international conventions on the matter.
As if with the erasure of traffickers, migration would stop. If you are a fan of political economy, you can call it a market failure bias.
Let´s talk money
Renzi mentions the fact that EU´s funding of its current operations is not enough and that we are all “partially responsible”. At the same time others should also contribute. In its logic there is a sort of parodic domino effect: Italy engages its full capacity, though Mare Nostrum got cancelled after few months. EU is not doing enough, but the UN should jump in asap.
Summarizing a general plan
The PM´s proposals are a condensed version of the plan presented two days earlier (see above for link).
What does “a more effective mandate” for current EU operations mean in practice? The legal status of Triton/Frontex appears NOT to be on the way to be questioned/amended any time soon – read this article by Politico, among others – so the question mark remains. The stress put on “destroy vessels”, thus a military, Atalanta-like option comes straight after mentioning the reinforcement of current EU operations. As of today they are mostly security, border controls and patrolling activities.
“New tools and additional resources” to tackle asylum requests underline an alarming lack of substantial understanding of the fact that the soaring wave of migrants would require a fast-track response.
Libya: the challenge
Italy, as a former colonial power and a current big investor in oil and gas extraction, calls for a “continuation of political and diplomatic efforts” for the reconstruction of the country. The truth is that it has no idea on what should be done and acts accordingly, i.e. awaits.
The biggest question mark remains a single sentence, thrown in between lines as a sort of trompe-l´œil: “Not all passengers on traffickers´ boat are innocent families”. What do you mean by that, dear Matteo?
Uno: a concession to your Interior Minister, a gentleman looking for the fastest way possible to bomb the vessels, according to his latest press statements.
Due: tautology. As in every cluster of human beings, you have those who would have stolen their mates´ snack at school- well if they ever had one in the war zones they lived so far.
Tre: dear readers, in case you were wondering, I think that traffickers are evil and manage to board the most dangerous terrorists in crappy boats with a substantial chance to capsize and shrink. Terrorists are both fatalists and great swimmers!
All in all there is a depressing lack of vision; though the PM is not the first politician overwhelmed by the gigantic challenge that migration poses. Still, his persona does not concede for this sort of acknowledgments.
As the op-ed has been written by the one person calling up today´s EU summit, well you gather that the chances for an improvement in the overall capacity of the EU to save lives are very low.
On the other side the chances of seeing vessels and air-attacks on boats on the coast of Libya is on the rise.
The bombing from two years ago taught us nothing, the latest tragedy will have soon also experienced a similar fate.