Europe on a verge of a critical turmoil
The current year has opened for the European Union with two major thorny issues, namely the one never solved of migrants, and the Brexit, to which the new just strengthened Franco-German axis has been added in recent days. Let's see in detail the situation of the old continent, never so confused and to a political drift (and not only).
The situation of migrant
The thorny problem of migrants today concerns countries like Spain, Greece, France but above all Italy, the country that more than anyone else is taking charge of landings of migrants.
The official data state that between June 2014 and June 2017, about550 thousand people arrived by sea in Italy, most of them coming from sub-Saharan Africa, on boats departing from Libya. Since July 2017, the frequency of arrivals has dropped significantly, as an effect of the agreements that Italy and the European Union have had with Libya and with other countries of transit of migrants, such as Niger. The same mechanism had already been adopted with Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi refugees who joined through Turkey until March 2016. More than a million in a year, a situation that has convinced Europe to pay six billion euros in Turkish coffers in exchange for closing borders.
What happened in 2018? According to UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) data, between January 1 and November 30, about22,550people have landed in Italy, 95 thousand less than in the same period of 2017. Among the countries of origin the most represented is Tunisia (4,800 people, 23% of the total) followed by Eritrea (3,000 people, 14%), Sudan (8%), Iraq and Pakistan (6%). 72% of people arriving onItalian shores are male, women are 9%, minors 19% (mostly unaccompanied). If we consider the landings on all European coasts, more than 110,000 migrants have arrived by sea in Europe between 1 January and 30 November 2018. 29 thousand have landed in Greece and 59 thousand in Spain.
Spain is by far the newest European country with the highest number of arrivals by sea. The number of people arriving, partly also by land in the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, had already increased in 2017; it mainly welcomes migrants from sub-Saharan Africa (Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, Gambia), the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria), the Middle East (Syria). In Greece especially Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis arrive, fleeing from Turkish control.
The theme of migration is at the top of the political agenda and to the attention of the European public for the past five years and shows no sign of losing relevance. The European Union struggles to find a common policy and every state is more concerned with its own interests and electoral benefits rather than the common European and global interest. Much more active in Italy instead, where the Lega/Movimento 5 Stelle government seems to have established two goals: to close the Libya-Italy route at any cost, and to make Italy a less welcoming country for foreigners. It has therefore strengthened the collaboration with the Libyan coast guard to increase the rejections and make the rescue by sea more complicated. In 2018 the number of people rejected in Libya is higher than the number of people arriving in Italy from Libya.
The situation in real time sees a ship flying the Dutch flag, Sea Watch 3, off the Italian coast with the Italian government's veto to land migrants. The government has allowed food and medicine to be sent on board, but not to land anyone, bouncing the problem back to Holland, the country the flag is flying over. Yesterday, 29 January, Strasbourg has approved "in record time" the resolution presented by the Italian Government, according to which Italy is asked to provide assistance, by sending water, food and ensuring medical care adequately, but do not guarantee the landing of migrants. Minister Salvini had imposed that the Netherlands should take charge of it, the state of which the ship is flying the flag, or Germany, the state to which the humanitarian organization belongs. During the Med 7 summit, on the agenda yesterday in Nicosia, on the occasion of the summit of the countries of the southern shore of the Mediterranean, five states offered availability for relocation: Germany, France, Portugal, Romania and Malta. While a peremptory denial has arrived, without surprise, just from Holland. Meanwhile, the Sea Watch remains isolated like a quarantined ship. Prohibited approaching for a radius of half a mile, and the shipwrecked rescuers on 19 January in front of Libya are 'prisoners' on board.
And the stalemate worries all of Europe, which expresses the hope that a way out will be found soon, with the need for an assumption of responsibility on the part of the whole European Union to govern the phenomenon of immigration, which, in the words of the Premier Conte, "risks otherwise imploding".
The Brexit knot
What is currently the most controversial political situation in the Eurozone is Brexit. The situation is so animated that latest news of January 29 retain that the headquarters of many large retailers have raised the alarm on the possibility of a supply shortage even of basic foodstuffs, in the event of an exit without agreement of the Kingdom from the EU (no deal). Some of the major supermarket and fast-food chains (Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, The Co-op, Lidl, McDonald's and KFC) have sent an open letter to Parliament and the Government. "We are extremely concerned about the significant risks involved in maintaining the choice, quality and durability of the food available to our customers".
The words of Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence, the highest authority of American intelligence, have increased the dose, leaving no room for doubt. During a Senate hearing he thundered that if Britain were to leave without an agreement, Brexit would risk making the United Kingdom "unstable" for decades.Furthermore, this would cause economic turmoil that could significantly weaken Europe, too. But there is more: according to European services it is very likely that divorce between the European Union and the United Kingdom will result in a new referendum on independence in Scotland and a possible vote in Northern Ireland.
Crucial session on January 29th, in the House of Commons, where Premier Theresa May explained the willingness to negotiate with the EU some amendments on the divorce agreement reached in November, which provide "binding" guarantees against the disputed backstop for Ireland. This would oblige London to negotiate "alternative solutions" with Brussels to guarantee a post-Brexit border without barriers between Ireland and Northern Ireland instead of the backstop, the controversial "insurance policy" to prevent the return of a physical border between the two Irelands. It implies the permanence of Great Britain in a customs union with the European Union, plus further special clauses for Northern Ireland.
The new vote, called "crucial", on the B plan for Brexit that the Premier has undertaken to renegotiate with the European Union, will be held by February 13th. According to Labor leader Jeremy Corbin, Premier May's attempt to get changes to the agreement that "failed to bring home in two years is in vain". He said that the first condition of any meeting is to eliminate from the possibilitiesthe danger of what he called "an inconsiderate no deal", which is seen both by companies and by trade unions as catastrophic for the economy, and consequently for all the jobs that wouldinevitably be put at risk. The repercussions are already beginning to be felt even before the divorce is made official, and some companies have already decided to displace production elsewhere.
From Cyprus, where he was at the summit on the countries of the southern shore of the Mediterranean, President Macron said that the agreement with London "is the best possible and not renegotiable".
The vote also includes an amendment requesting the postponement of the Brexit date set for March 19th, which must in any case be limited to a few weeks, but which, according to many, threatens to furtherly entangle the divorce process between London and Brussels. Europe is following every move from London with extreme care.
Merkel and Macron sign the new agreement for Europe"against populism".
France and Germany strengthen the Élysée Treaty signed in 1963 by Adenauer and De Gaulle; 56 years later, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron demonstrate that they have not forgotten history and promise an even closer collaboration in some crucial areas such as military, economic or energy. It is a thin, pragmatic document. And beyond the "modest" content of such agreement, Merkel reminded us that "this is the response of our two countries in the face of the strengthening of populism and nationalism". The "pact " between Macron and Merkel certifies that Europe, in practice, does not exist. The aim of the new pact is to strengthen the Franco-German axis in Europe, providing for greater cooperation in the defense sector, and to contribute to the formation of a "European army", despite the opposition of the President of the United States.
The new Franco-German treaty provides for a bilateral solidarity clause in the event of aggression, in parallel with the one already envisaged by NATO, including terrorist attacks. With the new bilateral treaty, Merkel and Macron want to boost European unity at a time when the risks of strengthening populist and euro-skeptic parties are decidedly strong, and in which the European political panorama is characterized by new faults of political division (between east and west).
The whistling with which hundreds of demonstrators welcomed the two leaders on their arrival acted as the soundtrack at the meeting in Aachen. Contestations that have underlined the particularly difficult phase the two statesmen are going through, with the first in free fall in the polls, and now obsessed with the protest of the gilets jaunes, and with the second, more and more threatened by the advance of Afd, which has fiercely opposed the openings on the issue of immigration.
The Treaty of Aachen has been commented with very harsh tones, according to which it will not strengthen Europe, but will further weaken it. The fact that the pact between Macron and Merkel was signed "on the eve of the renewal of the European Parliament", thus sanctioning "the disintegration of the European Union" has not played in favor of the two great leaders, whose image appears to be decidedly blurred.
All of European leaders hope that what will happen in the upcoming weekswill serve to restore the delicate geo-political balance that has been so severely tested in recent months, so as to regain the stability of the old continent.