Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is being put under significant pressure as a result of the ongoing migrant crisis on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Former supporters and members of the opposition are attacking her for failing to prevent the recent arrival of thousands of illegal migrants there.
It comes as European Union leaders, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have pledged they will support Italy in dealing with the mass influx, although they have insisted they remain committed to allowing legal large-scale immigration into Europe.
Writing on social media, multiple commentators and groups have accused the Italian Government and Meloni of reneging on their promise to curb mass migration and instead choosing to stand with EU elites who support such immigration for demographic reasons.
— MoVimento 5 Stelle (@Mov5Stelle) September 18, 2023
“They’ve been making fun of Italians for years,” the opposition Five Star Movement wrote on social media, calling on both Meloni and her coalition partner Matteo Salvini to apologise for their “failures”.
Others pointed out that while Meloni has repeatedly pushed for drastic measures on migration she has backed down on her promises, with one Senator accusing her of “not being up to the task” to combat the situation.
Meloni has resorted to increasingly hard-line language on the crisis, demanding that the EU clamp down on mass migration through the Mediterranean.
According to her, Eurocrats should be willing to launch “a naval mission if necessary” to prevent migrants from coming to Europe. She has threatened to unilaterally “adopt extraordinary measures” to deal with the crisis if the EU does not step up to help.
EU Member States have chosen to tighten their borders with Italy after the arrival of thousands of migrants on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. https://t.co/Jhfzi33Kek
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) September 15, 2023
Such threats appear to be falling on deaf ears in Brussels.
While von der Leyen vowed to support Italy during a visit to Lampedusa on September 17, she insisted such help would not come in the form of a tougher crackdown on migration.
“We have an obligation as part of the international community,” she wrote, adding that she did not have a problem with migrants coming to Europe, just with “smugglers” deciding who gets to come to the continent and who does not.
It is very important for me to be in Lampedusa today.
I'm here to offer a coordinated response by the Italian and European authorities.
I would like to present to you a 10 point action plan ↓ https://t.co/p1KorMPEh4
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) September 17, 2023
Von der Leyen went on to present a 10-point action plan aimed at mitigating the crisis, which includes the aim of relocating migrants from Lampedusa to other EU Member States, as well as working with other international bodies to protect migrants.
The response of those on the right has not been positive.
“Why don’t migrants go to Japan? Why don’t they go to Australia? Why don’t they go to Russia? Why don’t they go to China? Why do they only come to France and Europe?” former French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour wrote online.
He went on to lash out at von der Leyen and the mainstream media, whom he claimed “constantly make the French and the European people feel guilty” in order to facilitate mass migration.
The Italian island of Lampedusa saw another huge influx of migrants over the weekend. https://t.co/YwvwDzSe9v
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 28, 2023