Eurozone Immigration Crisis 2.0 May Wreck Merkel's Grand Coalition

On June 11, Italy stirred up a storm by refusing to allow a ship with refugees to dock. Repercussions reverberate.

Matteo Salvini, who refused to let ship carrying 629 refugees and migrants to dock, says: ‘We have opened a front in Brussels’. He declared victory when Spain Accepted the Refugees.

Salvini blocked the ship from Italian ports and said it should go to Malta instead. Malta refused, saying it had nothing to do with a rescue mission overseen by the Italian coastguard in waters off Libya.

“We have opened a front in Brussels,” said Salvini, who became interior minister last week. “We are contacting the European commission so that it can fulfil its duties towards Italy that have never been respected.”

With the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, urging the urgent disembarkation of all 629 people on board, including 100 children, as provisions ran out, Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s new prime minister, gave permission for the MS Aquarius to dock in Valencia. He said his country would welcome those on board.

Italy’s new prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, thanked Spain for its “gesture of solidarity”.

Immigration crisis 2.0 Underway

  • French president Emmanuel Macron called Salvini irresponsible and cynical.
  • In return, Salvini accused the French of hypocrisy given their own record of rejecting refugees.
  • An emerging political alliance between Salvini and the German interior minister Horst Seehofer has the potential to blow up the grand coalition in Germany.

Salvini's Hypocrisy Tweet


"This is the last call to save a Europe that is dying of hypocrisy and silence. If our No and our voice will serve to play the alarm clock, ironically one day we may discover that to save Europe we would be just us."

Eurointelligence Discussion

The decision by Matteo Salvini to block the arrival of the Aquarius ship, with 629 refugees on board, pitches Italy against France and Spain. And, through a complicated political process, Germany may ironically end up on the side of Italy. Scholars of the First World War are in familiar territory

Salvini's decision triggered an angry reaction from France where Gabriel Attal, a spokesman for Emmanuel Macron's party LREM, is quoted in the Italian press as saying that it has made him vomit. Macron himself is quoted as saying that the decision was irresponsible and cynical. Corriere della Sera reports that a planned summit between Macron and Giuseppe Conte tomorrow was now at risk because of those comments.

In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Salvini called the French reaction hypocritical given France's own history of turning refugees away. He invoked the move by the previous French government to block the main Franco-Italian border crossing at Ventimiglia in 2015/2016, to prevent ten thousand refugees who had landed in Italy from passing through into France. That number included many woman and children. We recall that this act, plus the Austrian discussion of closing the Brenner pass, led to a massive political outcry in Italy which was largely ignored elsewhere in Europe. And for good measure, Salvini yesterday tweeted Trump-style that the principle by which he will conduct any international coordination is: #primagliitaliani.

In his interview, Salvini also pointed to a conversation he had with Horst Seehofer, the German interior minister and CSU chief. Seehofer and Salvini are allies on this issue. There is an eerily parallel discussion going on in Germany, with the potential to turn very serious. Seehofer has been a fierce critic of Merkel's immigration policy. As interior minister, he had planned to publish a white paper this week to do exactly the same as Salvini - to block all refugees at the border. Merkel stopped him for now, but she is now facing a big backlash among her own party members, many of whom support Seehofer on this. Alexander Dobrindt, the CSU chief in the Bundestag, made it clear that the CSU is not ready to compromise on this issue. Nor is the CSU ready to accept Merkel's proposal to wait until the June 28/29 EU summit, on the grounds that the summit is not going to solve the problem in any case.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports this morning that Merkel came under a lot of pressure from inside the CDU itself at a meeting of the joint CDU/CSU Bundestag group yesterday. The group leader Volker Kauder prevailed with a resolution to postpone any decisions until further talks, but of the 13 MPs who spoke at the meeting, 11 came out against Merkel with the other two sitting on the fence. Die Welt reports that Merkel was visibly shaken after the meeting. Merkel and Seehofer want to seek a compromise over the next few days - which seems at odds with the CSU's official position that it won't compromise. One of the reasons Merkel holds out is the potential this issue has for a stand-off in the EU as well as for the grand coalition itself.

Defend Borders

Here are some translated snips from Salvini's Policy Interview with Corriere della Sera.

Corriere: The Sunday initiative has been severely criticized. Are you convinced that blocking ports was the right move?

Salvini: "Look, I'm a minister for only eleven days, but I think an important result for all Italians has been brought home. Unlike the chatter we've heard over the past seven years, we have awakened Europe. Today I spoke with the German minister Horst Seehofer and I can say that I believe an Italian-German axis is emerging based on a fundamental slogan: to defend the external borders. What it means to defend the Mediterranean and therefore Italians too ".

Prelude to WWI

Once again I am in agreement with Eurointelligence's view of what it happening, even though I typically disagree with their solutions.

This time, Eurointelligence offered no solution to disagree with. Instead, their discussion concluded with this statement: "Don't underestimate the spillover of this crisis into the Italian debate on the future of the euro."

For a discussion of WWI similarities, please see Europe's Nationalism and Trump's Trade Policies Look Like WWI Prelude.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

No. 1-16

Macron just lashed out at an “axis of the willing” (Italy Austria Germany) that threatens to close all borders. This was an evident reference to the 1939 "axis". Macron is arrogant enough to imply that Salvini (and LePen) is a fascist, so is Seehofer a Nazi? The axix may actually materialize as Merkel needs support to bribe Turkey into keeping millions of refugees.


I think you misunderstand the point - this is just one more small piece of a bigger puzzle, so to speak. Here is a recounting of the run-up to WW1 from 2010 in which I mentioned some of the parallels that were evident back then already. Keep in mind that this was a long, drawn-out process. A remarkable feature of it was that almost no-one thought a big war was possible at the time. Even after the war had actually begun, people still believed it would remain a very localized, brief conflict. We are obviously still far away from a similar altercation, and it may not happen at all. But even if growing hostility doesn't result in an outright shooting war, there could be unpleasantness in other forms (for the average citizen). In fact, there already is.


Would be nice if the Catholic Church permitted birth control.


It's always very telling when a people crisis is qualified by how many children are involved. As if the problem is somehow much more significant because there are children on board. Maybe the establishment leading the world should do something to prevent the displacement of these people in the first place... some of whom are just passport-burning illegal immigrants capitalizing on a refugee movement. Or worse using their children as a lever to demand charity. Such people need to be discouraged or arrested, not congratulated.

Ultimately emptying North Africa into Europe is never going to work, economically or culturally. The idiots running the EU think that increasing people numbers will automatically increase economic growth and tax revenue. As if unskilled jobs will just appear out of nowhere under the weight of demand. Meanwhile, the humanitarian movement supporting the refugees is perpetuated by ignoramuses who know nothing about human behavior, political history and pass judgement emotionally based only on the number of women and children affected as if sex and age precludes criminality or antisocial behavior. Clearly its easy to be virtuous when the cost is covered by someone else.

The only practical solution is to stop dropping bombs, stop fomenting revolution and stop attempting regime change in the Middle East and Africa. Political change takes decades or even centuries. You don't force it by murdering people or interfering with foreign government.


Well that escalated quickly.