Europe, despite its Union, is as divided as ever. Recently, when Italy’s new right-wing government—anxious to prove its credentials—refused to allow a boat carrying 629 African migrants to dock in Italy, Spain’s new left-wing government—equally anxious to do the same—accepted the boat. When the French president, Emmanuel Macron, criticized the Italians for their decision, the Italian government accused the French of hypocrisy, inasmuch as they had refused to take more than 9,000 migrants from Italy that they had previously agreed to accept.
This story is revealing in several aspects. The first is that, whatever attitude governments take to the migrants, no one truly believes that they are more of an asset than a liability. Madrid’s action, for example, was taken on “humanitarian” grounds, rather than because it believed that Spain would benefit from the migrants’ presence. When European leaders discuss the migrant question, it is always in terms of sharing the burden, not the assets, equitably. No one speaks of foreign investment in this way, which suggests that European politicians believe, whether rightly or wrongly, that the free movement of people and capital are different in an important way.
Read the rest of Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal.