Southern European leaders meet for Med7 summit focused on immigration

Southern European leaders meet for Med7 summit focused on immigration

Leaders from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and Malta will gather in Nicosia today for this year’s Med7 summit—a

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Photo: Reuters

Leaders from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and Malta will gather in Nicosia today for this year’s Med7 summit—a gathering of the EU’s southern member states.

While migration is the focus of today’s agenda, all eyes will be on French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Tensions between Paris and Rome flared over last week after Italian Deputy PMs Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio accused France of stealing wealth from Africa. The two were likely referring to the CFA Franc, a French-backed currency used by 14 West and Central African countries that is argued to hamper development.

Salvini and Di Maio are competing for seats in May’s European elections. Their criticism of French policies is designed to appeal to their populist bases at home, but the attacks could bode ill for Italy in the long-term. Paris and Rome have long been close allies, with France most recently backing Italy over its budget dispute with the EU. Jeopardising that relationship for short-term political goals could leave Italy isolated, particularly within the EU, over the medium-term.

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