Features

Italy’s Aquarius refusal presages a tense summer

The row over the MV Aquarius is a sign of a split opening up between European countries.

900-Aquirius-634

The EU is not coping with the migrant crisis

Spain's offer of a safe harbour to the 629 migrants aboard the NGO vessel Aquarius after Italy refused to welcome them is a relief to the "desperate souls" on board, says the Financial Times. But it "highlights the need for all European countries to engage directly and equitably with the migration problem".

This is the first time Italy has turned away a vessel since the start of the Mediterranean migrant crisis in 2013, and signals the determination of the new interior minister Matteo Salvini to "fulfil his campaign pledge" to stem the flow of migrants from Libya, says Nicholas Farrell in The Spectator. Italians have had enough.

More than 700,000 migrants have been ferried to Italy over the past five years, and although most want to move to Britain, France or Germany, in 2015 France suspended the Schengen agreement at the Italian frontier, leaving them "stuck". It will be interesting to see how many more migrants Spain is prepared to accept from Libya.

Spain's compassion is commendable, but this action, "however well meaning, is not going to resolve this problem and risks fuelling the illegal smuggling which the EU is trying to close down", says The Daily Telegraph. The "more hard-headed must question" whether the "very presence" of rescue vessels such as the Aquarius is "encouraging people to pay traffickers and risk their lives".

Italy's refusal not only sends a message to the rest of the EU that it is "no longer prepared to shoulder" this burden, it is also a warning to "those in Libya who can influence the flow of migrants and refugees", says The Economist.

There has been a recent increase in the number of migrants leaving Libya, "which may be an attempt to ensure Italy's new administration is as generous as the last". So far, however, there is no sign that Salvini intends to lift his ban on NGO vessels. It seems we are in for "a tense summer".

Recommended

Bondholders beware – inflation is coming, says Jeremy Siegel
Inflation

Bondholders beware – inflation is coming, says Jeremy Siegel

With vaccines promising an end to lockdowns, inflation won't be far behind, warns Jeremy Siegel, professor of finance at Wharton.
26 Jan 2021
The Arab Spring ten years on: a revolution that failed to blossom
Global Economy

The Arab Spring ten years on: a revolution that failed to blossom

Ten years ago, the Arab world was rocked by mass protests and popular uprisings that ousted long-reviled dictators. For the most part, the end result …
23 Jan 2021
The charts that matter: inflation, bubbles, and booze
Economy

The charts that matter: inflation, bubbles, and booze

As US stocks head higher into bubble territory, John Stepek looks at the charts that matter most to the global economy.
23 Jan 2021
Inflation is the easiest way out of this – just don’t expect politicians to admit it
Inflation

Inflation is the easiest way out of this – just don’t expect politicians to admit it

The UK government borrowed £34.1bn in December, a record amount for that month. Britain's debt pile now amounts to 100% of GDP. How are we going to pa…
22 Jan 2021

Most Popular

The FTSE 100 is set for a makeover with an influx of new tech stocks
UK stockmarkets

The FTSE 100 is set for a makeover with an influx of new tech stocks

The FTSE 100 – the dullest index in the world – is about to reinvent itself as a host of new firms list on the market. The change is long overdue, say…
24 Jan 2021
Think Tesla is a bubble? This might be the best way to bet on it bursting
Oil

Think Tesla is a bubble? This might be the best way to bet on it bursting

The huge rise in Tesla’s share price means that, by market value, it’s now the sixth-largest company in the US and and the world’s biggest car-maker. …
25 Jan 2021
Why we won’t see a house-price crash in 2021
House prices

Why we won’t see a house-price crash in 2021

Lockdown sent house prices berserk as cooped up home-workers fled for bigger properties in the country. And while they won’t rise quite as much this y…
18 Jan 2021