European countries are now being offered cash for migrants.
The European Union (EU) will pay member states €6,000 ($7021) for every migrant they take in from boats stranded in the Mediterranean, according to a recent report in the Financial Times. The proposal, which the European Commission is expected to publish today (July 24), is widely seen as an attempt to placate Italy’s new right-wing, anti-immigrant government.
Last month, Italy refused to allow a rescue boat with hundreds of migrants onboard to dock. The country’s new far-right interior minister said those on board will only see the country “on a postcard.” It came just a week after the Aquarius, a rescue ship containing 630 migrants, was also turned away. The ship was eventually rerouted to Spain.
It’s not just Italy taking a hard-line to migrant arrivals. In June, a rescue ship was stranded for five days with 230 migrants on board after both Italy and Malta had refused it permission to dock. The ship was finally given permission to dock after Malta and seven other EU countries agreed to take a share of those on board.
But this week, the Italian government announced it would temporarily accept migrant arrivals. Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi told the press that Italy’s ports would be open until a solution was reached to prevent “all rescued people from landing in one country.”
Despite the increasingly toxic rhetoric around migration, the number of migrant arrivals has fallen dramatically since 2005 (paywall). In Italy, which bore the brunt of the migrant crisis, arrivals have fallen by almost 80% from the year before. But the reality—that migrant arrivals have returned to pre-crisis levels—has yet to be reflected in Europe’s political discourse. In fact, it is migration that threatens to topple German chancellor Angela Merkel (paywall) the longest-serving leader in the EU, and weaken freedom of movement, one of the EU’s the founding principles.