Already frosty relations between Paris and Rome have taken an icy turn. France summoned the Italian ambassador to explain these comments made Sunday by Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister. If today we still have people leaving Africa, it’s due to several European countries. First of all, France that didn’t finish colonizing Africa. Di Maio accused France of impoverishing 14 African countries that use the CFA franc, a colonial-era currency underpinned by the French Treasury and forcing people to flee to Europe.
The actual benefits of the CFA franc are disputed by economists, and however, Di Maio’s criticism aren’t really valid. Now there’s two reasons for that, one of them being that people arriving into Italy at the moment. The latest data suggests they are not from countries using the CFA franc and the second point is that in any case as countries if countries remain poor, migration is actually lower.
The Franco-Italian dispute follows the drowning of hundreds of migrants of Libya in recent days. The deaths have renewed the focus on Italy’s decision to end search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean and the EU’s failure to share refugee quotas.
If only wanting France to take migrants who arrived on its shores or at least part of them, and also disagreements over how to handle Libya with Italy and France backing different sides in the Libyan Civil War.
President Macron has not responded directly. He has sought to renew EU momentum with a new Franco-German treaty signed Tuesday in the border town of Aachen. The Europe skeptics, nationalist benefit from the fear in Europe’s people, and they say the answer on your fears is nationalism and we don’t believe this.
The dispute is a taste of what’s to come as populist forces like Italy’s five-star La Liga join battle with pro Europeans. This contradiction has been created whereby Italy is that is the populist and Macron is the European ax stand. It suits both sides in a sense to have each other as the bogeyman. Of course, this is especially important in light of the upcoming European Parliament elections.
Those election campaigns are expected to be bitter with migration at the heart of the debate over Europe’s future.
Henry Ridgwell for VOA news London.