EU infighting erupts as Scholz slams Meloni on migration alliance with Sunak

Tensions within the European Union escalated on Thursday (October 19) as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz criticised right-wing leaders, particularly Giorgia Meloni of Italy, for their approach to migration and repatriation deals with third countries.

Scholz’s remarks come in the lead-up to an upcoming leaders’ summit where reducing irregular migration will be a key agenda item.

In a fiery speech to members of the German parliament, Chancellor Scholz championed repatriation deals with third countries as a potential game-changer in addressing the migration challenges faced by EU member states. He claimed that such agreements would significantly contribute to a reduction in the number of migrants arriving in Europe.

Scholz’s pointed criticism was directed at those leaders who employ “tough talk” and grandiose promises to expel migrants.

While not naming anyone explicitly, the reference was unmistakably aimed at Rishi Sunak and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni, both of whom have embraced a strong stance on migration issues.

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This rift between Scholz and the right-wing leaders emerged in the aftermath of a joint op-ed by Sunak and Meloni published in The Times ahead of the European Political Community (EPC) meeting held in Granada two weeks ago. The op-ed called upon other EU nations to act with a sense of urgency in countering migrants and human traffickers.

Despite their vocal promises to tackle the migration challenge head-on, both Sunak and Meloni have faced setbacks this year, with statistics indicating a rise in migrant arrivals under their leadership.

Scholz said: “It’s often those politicians [who talk tough] that oversee rising numbers of asylum claims and fail because they don’t find a way to collaborate with countries of origin and transit countries.”

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Chancellor Scholz stressed that migration deals with third countries could mark a crucial departure from past efforts to reduce migration, as they enable EU nations to offer incentives in exchange for those countries accepting the return of migrants. For example, Germany is considering offering more visas for skilled workers, thanks to immigration reforms aimed at sweetening the deal.

Scholz revealed that German diplomats were actively engaged in negotiations for six such migration deals with third countries, underscoring their commitment to finding workable solutions to the migration crisis.

However, recent attempts by the European Union to secure collaboration agreements on migration with third countries have encountered obstacles. A previously agreed-upon deal with Tunisia, which was hailed as a milestone earlier this year, is now hanging by a thread.

The northern African nation has withdrawn financial support linked to the agreement in response to criticisms from Brussels, which argued that Tunisia was not properly implementing the accord.

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