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Mediterranean: major challenge for the EU, says Dassù

“If we fail to meet the challenge of the Mediterranean, the winner in Europe will be the populist movements; by now the future depends to a varying extent on our ability to work out the problems of the Mediterranean”. Deputy Foreign Minister Marta Dassù launched this message as she participated today in a conference at the Chamber of Deputies in Rome entitled “Mediterranean and migration: a new European policy of peace, democracy and development”.

Arab Spring viewed over-optimistically and simplistically

“The link between the Mediterranean and Europe is not clear either to political forces or citizens, but if it is not managed rationally, the European project will be overtaken by anti-Europe parties”, which find a “very useful” topic in the issue of migration, explained Dassù, according to whom, “we will not succeed in developing a Mediterranean policy that works, if we do not let go of the clichés that we have been applying to the Arab Spring”, which has been viewed “over optimistically and simplistically”; she also recalled how, even more than the Arab Spring, what has happened along the southern shores of the Mediterranean has been a “reawakening, that carries a series of problems and contradictions with it”. A long-term process, therefore, “that will be very difficult to govern” and towards which Europe will have to have a “humble” approach, without pretending to “impose its own recipes”.

“Mare Nostrum” has gained little solidarity from Europe

On the topic of immigration, Marta Dassù then pointed out how Italy “is quite disappointed” by the EU’s response to the boat-landing emergency of recent months. “No major progress has been made; we have sought solidarity on “Mare Nostrum” but, in reality, have received very little”, with the exception of Slovenia, the Deputy Minister added, noting that the “Dublin II System does not adequately recognise the burden on the countries of initial impact”. Today, Dassù warned, it is not enough to respond to citizens with promises of solidarity, what is needed is a European policy that lightens the load on the countries of first landing. A burden that Italy has been bearing, given, for example, that in the first 10 months of 2013 40,000 new landings were recorded, with Lampedusa alone the point of arrival of more than 14,000 migrants. Numbers that threaten to fan nationalistic embers, according to Minister for Integration Cecile Kyenge, who also spoke at the conference. “As European society opens to the world, xenophobic and protectionist political movements are gaining ground, claiming to defend national identities and home interests but that do entirely the opposite”, Kyenge added.

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