How to stop once and for all the false narrative on migration? The European Commission decided to declare war to populists by publishing an anti-fake fact document on the phenomenon in order to put a hot topic away from the electoral campaign. It never happened since 2015, since the migration crisis erupted in Europe.
To its latest progress report on migration, the European Commission attached a five pages special fact-sheet, named “Debunking myths about migration”. The reason for this unprecedented initiative is the awareness that migration will be used during the electoral campaign in order to influence the public debate and, consequently, the vote.
“Migration will be in the electoral campaign”, pointed out the EU commissioner for Migration and Home affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos. “Amid disinformation, misinformation and fake news it is hard to understand what is going on”.
The Italian lies on ‘invasions’
The European Commission tries to make the debate fair and clear. “Populists have invested on migration, and now we have elections”. This is not just Avramopoulos’ personal concern. The executive body of the EU as a whole looks at the political debate with a certain degree of worry.
Italy is one the EU member states where migrants have made the political fortune of Matteo Salvini. The leader of The League gained a lot of support by riding the wave of the refugee crisis. He was able to convey the message to the Italians the country was invaded by asylum seekers, and he was also capable of convincing many of them that the current government stopped the flows.
That is not true, as already argued on this blog. The numbers of arriving migrants started to decrease even before Salvini took the power. The current Italian government is basically benefiting from the policies of the previous administration as well as of the European decisions.
“In the Central Mediterranean, irregular arrivals remain low” […] “Overall, 2018 saw a fall of 80% in irregular arrivals to Italy compared to 2017, and this trend has continued in 2019 to drop to pre-crisis levels”, the Commission report states. Salvini was appointed minister for Home Affairs in the beginning of June, 2018. So the huge drop in arrivals was not because of his personal work, or at least not exclusively.
The European Commission wants to dismantle the Italian myths. First of all, it has stressed: “Europe is no longer experiencing the migration crisis we lived in 2015”. This makes one argument less for Salvini’s electoral campaign.
More misinformation from Salvini
Nevertheless in Italy migration is still a hot topic for “disinformation, misinformation and fake news”, to use Avramopoulos’ expression. The minister was able to say that the government of which he is part was able to return more migrants than ever before, thanks to bilateral agreements with thirds countries.
Official figures from the ministry he is in charge of show the opposite. These basically indicate that a lot of returns were made under his predecessor, Marco Minniti. This means that bilateral agreements have already produced results.
Furthermore, it is not 100% true that “nobody” signed return agreement with countries of origin. The European Commission put in place cooperation programs with Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Ethiopia. With these countries is already in place a mechanism aimed to bring the people back. Again, European Union and African Union set up a special joint task force on migrations, which permitted 15,000 migrants to voluntarily came back home from Libya instead of departing to Europe. So, if people are not coming to Italy is because of Europe. How can Italian politicians explain this to their voters?
Answering a question by an Italian journalist, Avramopoulos stressed that “the Commission was able to adopt a migration policy that never existed before”.
“If you want to blame someone, don’t blame the Commission. Stop shooting to the pianist”, the Commissioner said.