Orbán and Salvini for an anti-migration alliance

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán want to do more to "protect Europe" against the influx of migrants. At their meeting in Milan they announced the formation of an anti-migration alliance. Commentators express concern about the future of the EU and cite reasons for the rise of sovereigntism in Europe.

Open/close all quotes
Le Figaro (FR) /

Nationalists sabotaging the EU

Salvini and Orbán could make life considerably more difficult for the EU after the European elections in 2019, affirms historian Jean-Thomas Lesueur of the centre-right Thomas More Institute in an interview with Le Figaro:

“Nothing goes to say that the peaceful division of posts and power between the Party of European Socialists and the European People's Party, which has presided over the destiny of the European Parliament for years, can last beyond May 2019. I don't know if the nationalists will be able to obtain a majority, but there can be no doubt that they will be able to prevent or at least hamper the formation of any other majority. In a nutshell, while the Salvini-Orbán axis (and let's not forget Kurz's Austria) won't be able to secure a new balance of power, it can seriously impair the functioning of Europe.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

The Fata Morgana of a better Europe

The vision of Europe presented by populists like Orbán is dangerous, warns political scientist and former PiS politician Paweł Kowal in Rzeczpospolita:

“The pope of the European populists, Viktor Orbán, meets Salvini, one of the most intelligent populists in Europe. He adulates the Italian minister in Milan even more than he adulated [PiS leader] Jarosław Kaczyński in Krynica. It's as if Orbán still hasn't found the right partners for reshaping the Union. The populists' goal is power. And to secure this power you have to persuade the people that it will be worthwhile to change the system in Europe, in other words to give up the current EU for a different vision of Europe. That's like showing the weary and bored Europeans a Fata Morgana of a better Europe. That's what happened with Brexit too.”

Huffington Post Italia (IT) /

Clash between imperialism and desire for freedom

The rupture that is emerging in the EU has its origins in the different mentalities of Eastern and Western Europe, explains Roberto Sommella, director of the association La Nuova Europa, in Huffington Post Italia:

“Europe is a zone in which two different concepts of society clash: the neo-imperial concept of Brussels, which takes concrete form in forced unification, the Teutonic harmonisation of norms and their enforcement; and the revolutionary concept of the people of Prague and all the peoples who rose up against dominion and assimilation [in the Soviet Union] before them. These two opposing forces are still opposed to each other and are generating the structural instability in the community's architecture.”

Público (PT) /

Europeans allowing populism to thrive

The inactivity of the EU is allowing the extremist populism of Orbán and Salvini to flourish, Público contends:

“Even after this new populist, xenophobic and illiberal offensive, no protests were to be heard. ... The Europeans haven't realised that a decade ago the rhetoric used by Orbán and Salvini would have triggered an unimaginable scandal. They aren't aware that by failing to launch a frontal offensive against this radical populism they are ensuring that this radical populism thrives and continues to spread. And that politicians like Salvini or Orbán are appearing as symbols of a Europe that has given up on itself as an idea and a project. The informal meeting in Milan is clear proof that the noose of extremism is getting tighter.”

444.hu (HU) /

In actual fact they are opponents

Salvini's plans are poorly thought through, the government-critical website 444 comments:

“In answer to the question of how he plans to send the refugees back if Libya, where they come from, refuses to take them, Salvini answered that he wanted to reach an agreement with the African and Asian countries of origin on that issue. In this way he has postponed indefinitely the big plan for sending the refugees back home. At the same time, with his plans to send the refugees home Salvini has been able to avoid the problems caused by the fact that the Italian government in fact wants to solve the refugee problem with a binding quota system. Hungary is resolutely against such a move. So in fact the two governments are on opposite sides - in the European Council - on this issue.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Not the right material for a true alliance

This nationalist alliance won't last long, Avvenire is sure:

“Orbán is calling on Italy to seal off the sea while Budapest puts up barbed wire on its borders. But is blocking the arrival of people from non-EU states really the continent's main problem and the adhesive for a new concept of Europe? Once the walls have been built will all the rights listed by Salvini yesterday, the right to life, to work, to health and security, suddenly be magically fulfilled? It is the repudiated EU that has guaranteed Hungary's growing prosperity by providing it with substantial economic aid. What is Italy's stance on this? After all, Rome is threatening to block its contributions to the EU budget if the other countries don't accept the redistribution of refugees.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Shrill tones but no concepts

Matteo Salvini may see himself as Italy's next prime minister but pride comes before the fall, Der Standard believes:

“Relying on such (right-wing) populist tactics to whip up sentiment with ever shriller and ever more frequent announcements may work for a member of the opposition - and even for a while for a minister of the interior. But not even Salvini will be able to continue blaming his favourite victims, the migrants, for the high youth unemployment, the unaffordable pension system, the horrendous public debt and Italy's economic downturn for the duration of the legislature period. He needs something neither he nor any other populist has demonstrated until now: a concept that doesn't blow up in his face within just a few months.”