Thursday

21st Nov 2019

Salvini appeases Macron, amid 'flop' in anti-EU strategy

  • The G7 interior ministers met in Paris on Thursday and Friday (Photo: elysee.fr/g7)

Italy's far-right deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, has tried to make nice with the French establishment amid doubts on his plan to create an anti-EU league.

"With regard to the fight against illegal immigration ... I found an absolute community of intent with my French colleague," Salvini, the Italian deputy PM and interior minister, said in Paris on Thursday (4 April), referring to Christophe Castaner, the French home affairs minister.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Matteo Salvini (r) said the G7 meeting meant Italy was not isolated on the world stage (Photo: elysee.fr/g7)

Salvini spoke of a "harmony of views" with France and of a new "Paris-Rome axis" in Europe, following a meeting of the home affairs chiefs of the group-of-seven (G7) wealthy nations - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US - in the French capital.

And Salvini declined to criticise French president, Emmanuel Macron - his self-avowed "main opponent" on the EU stage.

"I have never met Macron. We have different histories, different interests", Salvini merely said.

He even attacked the French 'yellow vest' rioters in France, who had been embraced by other populist EU leaders, adding: "A peaceful protest is one thing, but hundreds of vandals damaging property is something. If he uses a heavy hand, Castaner's is doing the right thing".

Castaner, for his part, kept his distance from his new Italian colleague.

He underlined his "political differences with Salvini" at a separate press briefing on Thursday.

"We also have some disagreements, in particular, on the landing of ships that bring relief to the nearest port," he said, referring to Salvini's repeated refusals to let rescue boats take migrants to Italian ports.

Salvini's friendly overtures to the liberal and pro-European French government came amid his plans to build a new anti-migrant and anti-EU league in the European Parliament (EP) after elections in May.

The Italian minister added that the French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, remained his principal "ally in France".

Speaking in a more familiar vein, he also used the G7 meeting to troll Germany by saying it should take in the 64 migrants recently rescued by a German charity, Sea-Eye, off the coast of Libya, instead of letting them take shelter in an Italian port.

"I asked him [German interior minister Horst Seehofer] to open the port of Hamburg," Salvini said.

Luxury hard-right 'summit'

Salvini has invited delegates from hard-right parties in around 20 EU states to a congress entitled "Towards a Europe of Common Sense" at a luxury hotel in Milan on Monday.

His League party has declined to say who was invited and who had agreed to come.

But Le Pen, whom he will meet in Paris on Friday, will not be going to Milan, saying she was too busy on her French election campaign.

The Hungarian right-wing leader, Viktor Orban, plans to stay away, Hungarian media reported.

The Austrian far-right Freedom Party is also giving the event a miss, posing doubt on the cohesion of Salvini's new league before it has even formed.

The absenteeism showed "the political flop of the League's European project", Laura Ferrara, an MEP from Italy's Five Star Movement party, told the British Daily Telegraph.

The German far-right party, the AfD, and like-minded politicians from The Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden are expected to attend, however

Political flop?

But Salvini's trolling of Germany on sending migrants to Hamburg underlined his differences with the AfD, which does not want to show solidarity with Italy on migration.

The AfD also supports free markets and has no intention of sharing German wealth with more indebted EU states such as France or Italy.

EU far-right parties had "very different views" in many areas, Joerg Meuthen, the AfD's top candidate in the EP vote, told the AFP news agency on Thursday.

"We are a party that believes in the market economy and aren't friends of protectionist measures, compared to [France's] National Rally," he said.

The AfD's main allies were "northern Europeans such as the Danes, the Finns and the Irish who favour an open economy and not strong statism as is the tradition in France", he added.

Salvini's bid to pull Poland's eurosceptic Law and Justice party into his group could also falter on the question of Russia relations.

The Italian and the AfD both have strong links to the Kremlin and oppose EU sanctions on Russia, amid Poland's historic and deep-rooted mistrust of its aggressive neighbour.

And those links, in the AfD's case, might be even stronger than previously thought, according to a Russian document obtained by British broadcaster BBC.

Russia-AfD alleged links

The text was emailed during the German election in 2017 by Petr Premyak, a former Russian intelligence officer, to Sergei Sokolov, a senior Kremlin official.

It referred to Markus Frohnmaier, an AfD candidate who was subsequently elected to the Bundestag, and who denied any knowledge of what he called the "fake" documents cited in the BBC story.

"Chances of [Frohnmaier] being elected to the Bundestag: high," Premyak's email said.

"Required: support in the election campaign," it added.

"Result: We will have our own absolutely controlled MP in the Bundestag," it said.

Prison suicide rates in France highest in Europe

Suicide rates per 10,000 inmates in 2017 in France stood at 12.6, higher than any other European country. The latest figures are part of a much bigger report out Tuesday by the Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Berlusconi wants Europe to be a military global power
  2. Orban ordered to apologise over 'misleading' Soros survey
  3. EPP to decide on expelling Fidesz by end of January
  4. Rowdy anti-corruption protest in Malta
  5. Ambassador: Trump ordered Ukraine election meddling
  6. EU links Libyan government to human trafficking
  7. Greek PM on migration: 'Greece has reached its limits'
  8. Luxembourg: EU ought to recognise Palestine

Opinion

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'

As ex-national leaders, we know it's not easy to withstand public pressures and put collective interests ahead of domestic concerns. But without strong institutional leadership, EU values themselves risk ringing hollow, not least to those seeking protection on Europe's shores.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. EPP wants to re-open accession talks with Balkans
  2. New EU financial instruments needed
  3. Binding measures to expand gender balance
  4. Watershed moment for rule of law in Hong Kong
  5. EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration
  6. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  7. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president
  8. Don't lead Europe by triggering its fears

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us