What the migrant wave is doing to change European politics

The number of boats carrying migrants from North Africa across the Mediterranean is rapidly increasing, but Europe is struggling to adapt to this mass movement of people. Tunisia in North Africa is now the launch pad for the majority of migrants who take the risk-laden journey across the Mediterranean Sea. The surge is mainly made up of sub-Saharan Africans who are desperate to flee the continent. The surge is changing the politics of Europe, with Italy having a new right-wing prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, who was elected with a promise of a naval blockade. In Sicily, where the majority of those coming from Africa land, Enrico Trantino, one of Meloni's allies, is embracing the idea of "Team Europe" and is dangling the prospect of up to $2bn (£1.53bn) in support if Tunisia's president, Kais Saied, helps to stop the boats. The far-right AfD party is on the rise in Germany, with a recent poll putting them neck-and-neck with Chancellor Scholz's governing Social Democrats. With important elections approaching, that matters. Rosenheim in the German state of Bavaria is the first stop for many migrants coming to the country. In 2015, thousands of Syrian refugees took their first step on German soil here, and the country welcomed more than a million refugees in that crisis. The irony is that Europe, particularly Italy and Germany, needs more people. The government in Berlin is proposing that asylum seekers already in Germany - who are forbidden from working until their claims are processed - could be given a fast track into the workforce to help solve "desperate" labor shortages. However, just as businesses across Europe are crying out for more workers, voters across Europe are pressurising their politicians to put their own people first. The Dutch government collapsed last week because the governing coalition could not agree on new restrictions on immigration, and the once uber-liberal Scandinavian countries have also adopted tough policies. Denmark's Social Democrat-led government passed a law in 2021 allowing it to relocate asylum seekers to countries outside the EU while their cases are reviewed. Few would not be moved by the dreams so many migrants speak of - whether it's to play professional basketball or to send money home to a struggling family or simply to escape war and violence. But that sympathy for individuals has not turned into a collective willingness to open up Europe to those who want to come. If anything, precisely the reverse.


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