Mediterranean Immigration: Giorgia Meloni’s Rome Invitation

Elected in 2022 on a program to close borders, the far-right Italian leader nevertheless resolved to deal with the issue of exile in concert with the European Union and the countries of the Mediterranean basin by organizing, this Sunday, July 23, an “international conference” on migration.
Giorgia Meloni welcomed the leaders of the Mediterranean countries to Rome on Sunday July 23 to promote a new mode of cooperation between countries of immigration and countries of emigration, on the model of the agreement signed by the European Union (EU) with Tunisia with the aim of curbing the arrival of exiles on the continent. Italy’s far-right prime minister opened the conference by setting the priorities for what she calls “the Rome process”. “Fight against illegal immigration, management of legal immigration flows, support for refugees, and above all, the most important thing, otherwise all that we will do will be insufficient, broad cooperation to support the development of Africa, and particularly of the countries of origin of migrants”, she detailed.

Among the personalities present, the presidents of Tunisia Kaïs Saïed, of the United Arab Emirates Mohammed ben Zayed, of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the president of the European Council Charles Michel, the High Commissioner of the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and delegates from major international financial institutions. Malta, Egypt, Libya, Ethiopian, Jordan, Algeria, Niger, Lebanon are represented by their respective heads of government. While others, such as Greece, Turkey, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, have sent ministers. France and Spain have no representatives.

Shortly before, in the Vatican, Pope Francis celebrating the Angelus called on European and African heads of state and government to bring “help and assistance” to migrants crossing the Mediterranean but also to those who, as in Tunisia and Libya, “are trapped and abandoned in desert areas”.


During the 2022 legislative campaign that brought her to power, Giorgia Meloni had promised to “stop the landings” of migrants in Italy. His government has since put sticks in the propellers of humanitarian ships, without stopping departures. According to Rome, some 80,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean and arrived on the coasts of the Peninsula since the beginning of the year, against 33,000 last year over the same period, mostly from the Tunisian coast.

Faced with this observation, Giorgia Meloni and the European Commission have intensified their “dialogue” with Tunisia for several months, promising funding if the country undertakes to combat emigration from its territory. Brussels and Rome thus signed last week, with the Tunisian president, a memorandum of understanding which notably provides for European aid of 105 million euros intended to prevent the departure of migrant boats and to fight against smugglers. The agreement also provides for more returns of Tunisians in an irregular situation in the EU, as well as returns from Tunisia to their countries of origin of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. “We do not accept the passage [of migrants] who are outside the legality, declared Kaïs Saïed, the Tunisian president, according to AFP. The Tunisian people appreciate the human value of immigrants, but they face criminal gangs” among these migrants.

A senior EU official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed that the EU is keen to negotiate similar partnerships with Egypt and Morocco. In Rome, the Mauritanian president warned that special attention should be paid “to countries and regions facing critical economic, political and security situations in order to better support them”, and provide “the financial resources necessary for their implementation”.


On the other hand, the NGOs are upwind. Sea-Watch regrets that “the EU and its member states continue to toughen their deadly policies of isolation”. While Human Rights Watch believes that “Europe has learned nothing from its complicity in the atrocious abuses committed against migrants in Libya”. For the independent researcher Yves Pascouau, the fact that there is a “discussion channel” between Europe and the countries of departure is a positive thing. He believes, however, that “long-term thinking” is missing.

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