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Earlier this week, the French and Italian government frictions soared, as the two nation-states continued to dispute intricacies of border parameters. Specifically, Italian authorities called into question the suspected French practice of ‘migrant dumping’ across their western border. With increasing offenses transmitting between both factions, the unclear guidelines of immigration regulations in both countries does not benefit the problem at hand. As migrant flows increase-especially from North African countries, sentiments of xenophobia increase, not only in France and Italy, but also across Europe. Yet, the problem definitely will not soon dissipate, and thus will require cooperation between both governments to establish concrete regulations regarding immigration. In an atmosphere of widespread financial crisis throughout the European Union, this situation heaps additional stress on policy makers in regards to economic matters as well.
However, the historical rivalry between France and Italy appears to culminate in this particular context. Attitudes become personified in the bickering between central figureheads in this dispute. On one side, the Italian Minister of the Interior specifically accuses the French government of being complicit in mysterious migrant appearances within his borders. In an earlier interview, Minister Matteo Salivini alleges, “the French are trespassing, dumping migrants at their pleasure … but Italy is no longer the refugee camp of Europe.” Yet quickly, he backtracks by adamantly declaring he is not racist but just trying vehemently to protect Italian well-being. Even under this abundant pressure, the opposing French Minster of the Interior- Christophe Castaner subliminally retorted, “we have to be more efficient in the expulsion procedures of illegal migrants or those whose asylum request have already been denied.” Obviously, the French Interior Minister attempts to avoid furthering already tense conditions.
Unfortunately, this hands-off, delegating approach to a serious problem will not lead to a swift and efficient solution. Both ministers seem more content to point fingers than actually coming to the table to hammer out an understandable agreement. As powerful, founding leaders in the E.U., Italy and France bear an enormously important responsibility to set a standard for migration control within the continent. For in reality, other European members are intently watching and will ultimately follow suit. In the end, their decisions- both collective and individual- foretell possible strains on political relationships, hurt those individuals seeking asylum, and set a precedent for European exclusivity.
Yet, this dispute might not exist under differing circumstances. Specifically, Italy faces both economic turmoil and political jostling. Trying to dig itself out of economic crisis, the Italian government remains mostly focused on implementing fiscal and monetary policies, especially to curb mounting domestic debt. Therefore, the federal government does not have the time or resources to deal with issues of illegal immigration, particularly if it results from French intrusion. Also, the considerable numbers of migrants approaching the European continent appear a majority of African origin. For this reason, subsequent sentiment appears coated in prejudice. It also remarkably correlates with the rising feelings of nationalism and populism among E.U. citizens, along with assistance from recent horrific events of terrorism.
However, the grander concern should be for the humanitarian repercussions of these conditions. For, these multitudes flee from impoverished or war-torn conditions, if not both, and should instead be greeted with open arms from morally conscious, developed societies. Indeed, their arrival might strain economic conditions, but these countries are stable enough to expand their welfare states to effectively house and integrate new citizens. For actually, these new citizens would only make up a small percentage of the French and Italian populations, as reported by the U.N. Also, economic research finds immigration beneficial to labour force productivity and GDP growth. In contrast, both governments could opt to become directly involved through foreign aid and direct investment in North African economies, if their intention is to protect their own dire standing while maintaining their position as a moral global leader. Either way, Italy and France must hasten to reach a conclusion.