Italy ‘must not be left alone’ on migration: Germany’s Scholz

ROME (AFP): Italy cannot be abandoned to deal alone with migrant arrivals, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday ahead of a meeting in Rome with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

“Italy, Greece and the other Mediterranean countries are facing a huge challenge as the number of people arriving at their borders is increasing,” Scholz said in an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“We cannot leave Italy and the other countries alone, we must adopt an approach of solidarity and responsibility,” the chancellor added.

Meloni, who heads a hard-right coalition, vowed in her election campaign last year to clamp down on migrant arrivals, but the number of people crossing to Italy by boat has risen significantly since the start of 2023.

Some 52,300 people landed in Italy between January 1 and June 7, compared to 21,200 during the same period in 2022, according to figures from the Interior Ministry.

Scholz called for a “joint distribution of responsibility and competences between EU Member States”, pointing out that Germany took in “more than a million” Ukrainian war refugees in 2022 as well as “230,000 refugees from other countries”.

Italy, which has long been on the frontline of migration from North Africa, says other European Union countries should do more to help, particularly by taking in some of the arrivals.

EU interior ministers were meeting Thursday in Luxembourg to attempt to reach an agreement on a long-stalled revision of the bloc’s rules to more equally share asylum seekers and migrants.

But diplomats have cautioned that the odds of a deal were still 50-50, with more countries adopting hard-line policies on the issue.