Chancellor Angela Merkel makes brief visit to Rome to discuss new EU migration agreement

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte in Rome today. It comes two days after

merkel conte

Photo: FILIP SINGER/EPA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte in Rome today.

It comes two days after Merkel’s meeting in Berlin with European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen. The two discussed Von der Leyen’s proposal for a new EU migration agreement to be presented early next year. Italy continues to vehemently oppose the current Dublin Agreement rules that require EU countries to take responsibility for asylum seekers on arrival in their territory. Rome seeks distribution of asylum seekers across the EU bloc.

Merkel is expected to update Conte on von der Leyen’s proposal today. Although details are scant, von der Leyen is likely looking to distribute migrants more evenly across Europe, thus alleviating pressure on the likes of Italy, Greece, and Spain. This will please Conte, who is under huge pressure from opposition leader Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration nationalists, who are leading in the polls.

The problem for Rome’s desire to distribute asylum seekers across the bloc is that central European countries—notably Hungary and Poland—refuse to accept any refugees in their borders. Thus, any future plan will flounder unless the central Europeans come on board. There is no sign they will. Poland’s anti-immigration government was recently re-elected in a landslide. An extra hurdle is von der Leyen’s executive will likely attract staunch anti-migration candidates from the east, risking the integrity of any future plan.