The next European Commission and Parliament should send illegal migrants back to Africa and build up the bloc’s border defences against illegal migration, Viktor Orban said yesterday in his latest attack on the EU’s migration policies.
The Hungarian prime leader said that Europe’s security “hinges” on the success of Italy’s Matteo Salvini, the hard-Right Italian interior minister, who has upended the politics of EU migration by refusing to allow rescue ships to dock in Italy.
"You mustn’t give way, we’re behind you in trying to defend Italy’s maritime borders,” said Mr Orban as he met Mr Salvini in Milan. “Europe’s security depends on your success.”
The supportive visit by Mr Orban is being seen as the early exchanges ahead of next May’s European parliamentary elections which is being billed as a battle between Europe’s liberals and populists with migration as the defining issue.
Leftwing and rights groups demonstrated near the Orban-Salvini meeting under the slogan ‘Europe Without Walls’.
In the most recent case an Italian coastguard with around 100 migrants on board was allowed to dock after Albania and Ireland agreed to take a share.
Both Mr Salvini and Mr Orban have targeted Mr Macron for special criticism, demanding that the French leader show solidarity with southern Mediterranean countries like Italy, which has accepted more than 600,000 migrants in the last two years.
France should show greater "solidarity and sensibility" on immigration and suspend its policy of turning back migrants who try to enter France at the northwestern border crossing at Ventimiglia, Mr Salvini said in a direct challenge to the French leader.
Mr Salvini, whose party’s popularity has soared sharply in recent months, has been locked in negotiations with EU countries like Germany that return migrants to Italy on the basis of the Dublin Regulation which says that migrants must stay in the first EU country that they land in.
Mr Salvini said a “zero-sum” deal with Germany was “close to hand” that would see Italy taking back migrants in exchange for same number being taken away via other routes.
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