Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni met with European Council President Charles Michel in Rome January 30th to discuss migration and inflation ahead of next month’s EU Council Summit. The visit is seen as a way of ironing out pre-existing issues between the two leaders. Scheduled over two days in Brussels beginning on February 9th, the summit will see heads of state or government gather to discuss matters facing the bloc, with migration and green subsidies expected to be key.
In a joint press statement distributed following the meeting, both leaders underlined their points of unity regarding migration in developing a common EU strategy:
Europe can and must imagine structural solutions to the migratory challenge, starting with the defence of external borders; that there is awareness of the fact that Italy clearly cannot govern this matter alone.
The meeting marked the 100 days of Meloni’s premiership, and she thanked Michel and the Commission for recognising the central role Italy and other Mediterranean nations play in defending Europe’s external borders. Meloni also noted that human traffickers were the only group that profited from EU disunity. The statement stressed the need for better liaising with countries of origin in the pursuit of better border security, a situation that requires “European solutions to a problem that is a European problem.”
Migration policy has been described as a critical theme of the new Swedish Presidency of the Council, with Meloni and her administration conducting diplomatic outreach to North African states to help reduce the numbers crossing the Mediterranean in the wake of a recent surge. The Council is currently experiencing an impasse on the migration question, following the presentation of a new pact on asylum and migration proposed in September 2020, regarding the share of responsibility each nation-state should take.
Also discussed was the EU’s response to the recently announced American decision to provide €370 billion worth of green subsidies under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The Act is seen by many as a protectionist measure that directly challenges the EU’s electrical vehicle industry.
On Tuesday, Euractiv reported on a leak of the EU’s planned response to the IRA in the form of lower regulatory barriers and favourable tax credits and subsidies for clean technology.
Both Michel and Meloni stated their commitment to the single market and maintaining a level playing field for European businesses, as well as for greater accessibility to EU funds for individual members. Meloni also reminded Michel of Italy’s wish to see the implementation of a common European sovereign wealth fund to support capital investment projects.
Both leaders reiterated their support for Ukraine amid the ongoing war with Russia, with Michel now travelling to Paris to hold a similar meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.