French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called Wednesday for the EU to introduce a new automatic system to distribute migrants across the bloc, as the two countries sought to patch up an acrimonious relationship under Italy’s previous anti-migrant populist government.
“The European Union hasn’t shown enough solidarity with countries handling first arrivals, notably Italy,” Macron said after talks with Conte in Rome.
“France is ready to develop this in the framework of overhauling the Dublin accords,” said Macron, referring to the EU regulation which assigns responsibility for migrants to the nation of first entry into the bloc.
“I am convinced that we can agree on an automatic redistribution mechanism” under the auspices of the European Commission, he continued.
Macron said EU member states that don’t participate in the new distribution system would be “punished financially,” a demand shared by Italy. He did not elaborate.
France and Germany have reportedly given their approval to the new system, which could also involve Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Spain.
Conte said he had received French support for a system to redistribute migrants whereby the entire 28-nation bloc would automatically take a share of all the new arrivals in Italy as soon as they were rescued.
“Migration is a complex phenomenon. It’s vital for Europe to turn the page towards the structural, and no longer emergency, management of migrants,” Conte said.
“Migration must no longer be a theme of anti-European propaganda,” he added, referring to the harsh language and policies of the League.
A meeting next week in Malta of the interior ministers for Italy, France and some other countries may provide a test of whether ringing appeals by political leaders can be turned into concrete policies for stable European cooperation on migration.