North Africa is a geographically strategic region for Italy. Currently, however, the region navigates troubled waters. The Libyan crisis, the rise of the so-called Islamic State (IS), migration flows and economic and energy relations in the Mediterranean basin are key priorities for Italian foreign and security policy. On Libya, the country’s internal chaos has paved the way for the expansion of IS and further increased migration flows from the region. Turning to Egypt, until recently Italy used to be its first European economic partner. However, relations with the al-Sisi regime worsened in the aftermath of the Regeni diplomatic rift. At the same time, Tunisia is facing a difficult transition and the future of the Algerian leadership seems to be still uncertain. How is the Italian government coping with current challenges? The Vienna conference (May 16), co-chaired by Italy and the United States, aimed at finding viable options to the Libyan impasse. Over the last two years, Matteo Renzi’s government tried hard to follow a wider multilateral approach, mainly hinging upon the UN and the EU. In order to foster the Italian role in the wider Mediterranean region, Renzi sponsored Federica Mogherini’s appointment as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR). Despite all these efforts, Italy is still struggling to cope with the many challenges in its southern neighborhood. Although the Italian government is working to escape the fate of a stalemate in the region, a way out from the crisis is still there to be found.
In June 2014 the then President of the European Council, Belgian Hermann van Rompuy, arrived in Rome on a secret mission. He was to deliver an important message to Matteo Renzi – who had replaced Enrico Letta as Italian Prime Minister just a few months before. The message was on behalf of Angela Merkel, François Hollande and Jean-Claude Juncker, winner of the recent European elections as EPP leader and incoming European Commission President.
Libya has always been among Italy’s priorities in foreign policy, if not the main item on the country’s agenda. The Vienna conference (16th May) was co-chaired by the United States and Italy. The Conference tried to give a new impulse to the solution of the Libyan crisis.
After the achievement of unification, one of the Italian political élite’s main aims was recognition of the country as a “great power” by the members of the international system. Such ambitions sharply contrasted with Italy’s political weakness, as well as with its economic and social backwardness. In spite of everything the Italian authorities began to dream of an African empire, on the model of the great European powers, which were involved in the “scramble for Africa”.
The arrival in Sicily on May 13 of 898 migrants, mainly from Egypt, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia, marked an important new development in migration routes from North Africa to Italy. Instead of taking the sea from Libya, as is usually the case, the two fishing vessels rescued by the Italian navy in international waters started the crossing from Egypt. After few minor cases in the last two months, this massive arrival is clear evidence that the Egyptian route has officially reopened.
Il naufragio avvenuto lo scorso 4 ottobre al largo di Lampedusa, costato la vita a 366 persone, è solo l’ultima di una serie di tragedie del mare che hanno assunto la natura di vera e propria emergenza. Uomini in fuga da situazioni di guerra e disordine cercano un approdo nella “fortezza Europa”, trovando spesso sofferenza e morte. Diventa sempre più evidente, dunque, come l’approccio europeo basato sulla mera gestione dell’emergenza non sia più sufficiente a fare fronte a una situazione sempre più problematica. Ma da dove vengono i migranti? Quali risposte hanno messo in campo, rispettivamente, Italia e Europa? Questo ISPI Dossier analizza le incognite legate alla difficoltà nel trovare una soluzione a livello europeo, cercando di mettere in evidenza le maggiori problematiche.
In a country long known for its tradition of tolerance, the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) is an outlier. Vocally Islamophobic and unapologetically Euro-skeptic, the party has risen to global prominence by embodying the rise of Europe’s growing far-right fringe. At the forefront of the PVV is Geert Wilders – a Dutch parliamentarian infamous for his uncensored criticism of Islam.