Italy, France vow to move in coordinated way after talks on immigration, Libya

Rome and Paris showed a willingness to move in a coordinated way after Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and French President Emmanuel Macron held talks late Wednesday on such key issues as immigration and instability in Libya.

Macron was the first European leader to pay a visit to Rome after the formation of Conte’s new coalition government of the Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party.

“Opinions may diverge, but this must always happen within a solution-oriented dialogue based on mutual respect, as it is due between two founding members of the European Union (EU),” Conte told a joint press conference after the meeting.

Echoing Conte’s remarks, Macron said that “it can happen to quarrel sometimes, but we will always find ourselves in the end.”

During this visit, the two leaders vowed to move in a coordinated way.

“It is crucial for the EU to move towards a structural management of migration inflows, instead of (taking) an emergency approach,” Conte said.

“We need to get this topic out of the anti-European propaganda,” he said. “We also need to manage the phenomenon in an efficient and realistic way.”

The prime minister said he had “the full openness of president Macron” on working together for a European mechanism to manage arrivals and distribution of refugees, and for a more efficient repatriations of migrants not entitled to asylum.

Italy has long asked EU partners to accept shares of the migrants brought to land by rescued ships operated by humanitarian groups in the Mediterranean.

“I am sure we can agree on such a European mechanism coordinated by the European Commission,” the French president said.

“This would allow (countries of first arrival such as) Italy or Malta to have the guarantee before the rescue boats arrive that all these people will be taken care of,” he said.

The two countries’ interior ministers will meet next week to follow up on these proposals, according to Macron.

On the Libya issue, a topic that Conte’s office had anticipated it would be a crucial issue in the talks, the two leaders discussed a common strategy, and in this case not only in the EU framework but also within the United Nations.

“On Libya, there is a real convergence between France and Italy,” Macron told reporters.

“Rome and Paris have worked together, providing specific messages to our partners, and we are both convinced the only way out for the Libyan crisis has to be found in the dialogue and a political process,” he added.