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C. Bastasin: The Migration Crisis - A Case for a “Merzi” Leadership

image-03/17/2016 - 13:16Germany and Italy share common interests in tackling the migrant crisis—perhaps the greatest challenge in EU history. Regrettably, in responding to the unprecedented developments at Europe's borders, most national governments have shown an appalling absence of solidarity and strategic ambition. Germany and Italy are best-placed to contribute to solving the collective action problem that is crippling Europe's response to the crisis.

The failings in crisis management have much to do with Chancellor Merkel's “Alleingang” —her lack of coordination when it came to opening borders and strategizing to close them through a special arrangement with Turkey. Merkel's initiatives have a three-pronged nature: they are intrinsic to her domestic political agenda; though well intended, they disregard any coordination with the partners and stir staunch opposition and harsh criticism from a majority of European governments. As a consequence, the German plan has weak political foundations and threatens to backfire. Slovenia and Hungary, for instance, have reacted to the agreement with the Turkish government by rekindling their plans for closed borders within the European space.

Berlin and Rome now have both the duty and the opportunity to constructively change the way decisions are made in matters of common European concern. After abandoning a logic of confrontation with Berlin, the Italian government should harness Merkel's leadership, mend its evident flaws, and turn it into a driving force for the common interest. In order to do this, Matteo Renzi must make a proposal for improved governance of migration policies. Below is a possible design for the proposal.

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