Failing to Control Migration, Italy Weighs Throwing Money at the Problem

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Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is said to be considering backing a “Marshall Plan” for Africa as a long-term solution to halt illegal migration flows to Europe as the country continues to struggle to stop new boats.

Halting illegal immigration was a main campaign promise by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni prior to September’s national election, but since forming her conservative coalition government, illegal migration has continued, along with migrant taxi NGOs dropping off migrants picked up in the Mediterranean.

Meloni pushed back against allegations her government had changed policy on illegal immigration saying, “There is talk of a change of course by the government: absolutely not. The government does not intend to change its position, our position remains the same: in Italy, you do not enter illegally, you only enter legally,” Il Giornale reports.

“We want to fight human trafficking, illegal entry and deaths at sea. We don’t want to continue to favour human traffickers,” Meloni said and added, “The people who organize the departures of illegal migrants to Italy are armed and I don’t want to help these people because I fight all the mafias.”

Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani also spoke of the government’s plans to tackle illegal immigration saying, “We are working so that the issue of immigration is addressed in the short, medium and long term.”

“We aim to create investment initiatives in Africa, not for a new colonialism but to stimulate growth, because only in this way can immigration be combated,” he added.

Such a policy, labelled a “Marshall Plan” for Africa, has been proposed in the past by prior Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, leader of Forza Italia, a coalition partner in the Meloni government and the party of Foreign Minister Tajani.

In 2018, Berlusconi suggested that a Marshall Plan could help African economies and prevent people from wanting to make the dangerous illegal trip to Europe.

The problems with these plans is, of course, despite the theory of a wealthier Africa encouraging would-be migrants to stay home crumbles when it meets reality. Real-world experience suggests the wealthier African nations get, the more emigrants they produce.

Meloni’s Interior Minister Matteo Pinatedosi has also stated that he wanted to halt the activities of migrant taxi NGOs picking up migrants and bringing them to Italy and while the government did reject one NGO ship that ended up finding a port in France, many others have been able to drop off migrants in Italy in recent weeks.

Earlier this year in September, prior to the formation of the Meloni government, some predicted that Italy could see as many as 100,000 illegal arrivals by the end of the year.

The precision may be accurate as the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has reported that as of December 11th, 97,765 migrants have arrived by boat illegally this year, the highest level since 2017.

Since Prime Minister Meloni took office in late October, over 12,400 migrants have arrived by sea illegally.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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