France’s interior minister said on Thursday that the ‘far-right’ Italian government is incapable of solving its migratory problems.
“Madame Meloni, the far-right government chosen by the friends of Mrs (Marine) Le Pen, is incapable of settling the migratory problems on which she was elected,” Gérald Darmanin told French radio RMC.

“Yes, there is an influx of migrants and especially minors” in the south of France, said Darmanin, who blames Italy: “The truth is that there is in Tunisia (…) a political situation which means that many children in particular go back up via Italy and that Italy is incapable (…) of managing this migratory pressure.”

In response to the French minister’s outspoken remarks, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani cancelled a planned trip to Paris, saying: “The insults against the government and Italy launched by Mr Darmanin are unacceptable. This is not the spirit with which we must face common European challenges.”

This latest diplomatic spat is a continuation of a war of words between Paris and Rome following the refusal of Italy to allow a ship operated by the NGO SOS Méditerranée carrying hundreds of illegal migrants to dock in one of its southern ports. Eventually the migrants were allowed to disembark in Toulon.

Mr Éric) Ciotti, the president of the right-wing Les Républicains party and deputy for the Alpes-Maritimes recently called on the French government to mobilise “massive means to stop the ongoing migratory flooding at the border.” PM Élisabeth Borne responded by saying she would send an additional 150 gendarmes to the border at Menton.

So far this year, 36,000 illegal migrants have arrived in Italy via the Mediterranean, compared to 9,000 for the same period of 2022. Almost all of the migrants attempting to enter Europe across the Med are young males, many of whom attempt to cross the border into France intending to head for the UK and other destinations. Many if not most of them are considered to be economic migrants rather than refugees.

Migrants sit in their rubber dinghy during a rescue operation by Italian navy ship Borsini (unseen) off the coast of Sicily, Italy, in this handout picture courtesy of the Italian Marina Militare released July 19, 2016. Marina Militare/Handout via REUTERS.