The link to the Conference is here
Very interesting European project, bringing together journalists form all over the continent, the migrantfiles came out today with a second part of their investigative work.
The results are available in different languages, over different platforms. Could this be a model for development of a European space for discussion on the media? An international group working together, though delivering along language and national borders?
The first part of their project available here
The new concept form the European Commission on how to deal with migrants became an agenda last week, on May 13th (Agenda)
The content of this agenda has been analysed and commented at large by all major media houses in Europe, Italy and Germany too.
The differences in how this took place could be summarised as follows though: the Italian coverage on the migration-related events went not much further than that; German analysis continued the analysis of the many related aspects, such as the growing number of migrants saved (Zeit.de), the condition of migrants and asylum seekers once they are are granted a temporary stay; it also took a much more critical stance on the many ambiguous points the concept leaves uncleared.
In my understanding that has been possible in Germany since many newspapers stories focused on migration in the days after the tragedy as well as the days heading to the presentation of the concept. Another reason for that is Italy´s attitude towards Ms Mogherini: being a national plays down the many critical points and general statements she delivered at the UN and within the EU meetings, even more in a country being described as pro EU, pro UN and not very self-reflective since decades.
On top of that by the beginning of May Italy´s media reporting was overwhelmed by the reporting on the launch of this year EXPO (link) so that migration had become again a minor topic for all major newspapers. The simple fact that more lives were saved than migrants drowned created a spiral of growing incuriosity.
The opening of the world exposition managed to focus most media coverage around the premier and the event so that even the usually highly covered 1st of May celebration – with its focus on workers´ rights and working conditions – became a minor event when compared with the one in Milan.
News about migration turned into headlines once a child was found at the border with Spain inside a luggage or alternatively when a baby was born on a vessel. Once more in depth analysis or stories centred around what refugees are confronted with missed to reach relevance.
This one short commentary by M.S. Natale on the Corriere della Sera from May 12 sums up vividly and tragically how the discussion within the EU misses the real point: “Migranti: La Solidarietà dell´Europa con se stessa”
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.
The complex issue of migration to the EU with the tragic growing number of deaths over the Mediterranean sea cries for a discussion which shall be both more focused on the disaster in terms of human beings died and also more centred on the driving forces behind the decision of thousands of migrants of risking anything to flee their homes.
In the days following the latest and so far biggest tragedy German and Italian media outfits developed a rather different approach.
The general sense is that in Germany journalists and media houses follow the development of events but also put those issues in a wider context; the role of national and European institutions, the situation in the countries of origin, the concept that there is a tragedy behind risking everything over the most dangerous migration route nowadays are also integrated in the editorial and articles of the online editions. Here follow two examples.
In Italy there has been a tendency to a rather petty description of events: what happened on that boat, how many smugglers were captured this one time, how evil they are. But if you are looking for a word about Syria for instance, well you will not find it so easily. Repubblica
There are nevertheless stories about the dire condition of prisoning migrants undergo in Libya, as for example on this article by Corriere della Sera. Sadly enough it looks very likely that in a week from now – provided that no more tragedy happens – even this kind of reports will disappear.