Birth cries of an EU army in Africa?
ROME - The Italian Insider spoke to Cinzia Bianco, senior researcher at the Euro Gulf Information Centre (EGIC) about the motivation and possible consequences of increasing the Italian military presence Libya, Niger, and Tunisia. To read more about the background of the situation, please click here.
Could you comment on Italy’s plans to put more troops in Libya
I believe that the rationale behind this move is not that divergent from
the move in Niger. Italy is following the lead of other European
countries in acquiring a small degree of greater reactivity in the
operations that are crucial in the stabilization of the EU neighbourhood.
In particular, these interventions are also clearly designed to stem
down the flow of migrants aiming to reach Europe via Italy. The issue of
immigration has been a long-standing question of Italian domestic
politics. In the past few years it has become more prominent as coupled
with the economic crisis and the refugee crisis. With elections
forthcoming in March 2018, the incumbent government has an even
additional reason to step up its policy to manage the question.
How much do you think Italy's current military plans in the region are
motivated by political gain, both domestically and on a European level?
For the most part, the plans are motivated by domestic politics, i.e.
the incumbent government getting to elections with a track record of
positive, though small, achievements in stabilizing migration flows and
instability in the southern neighbourhood.
Do you think troops in Niger will result in increased terrorist
activity in Italy as France suffered several attacks after the French government put
troops in the region?
Not really. Italy's history in the region is very different from
France's, and also the numbers and overall situation of residents at
risk of radicalization.
Do you think that the plans are effective or do you think that human
traffickers will find alternative routes to northern Libya through Chad
While it is very conceivable that traffickers will find alternative
routes; that takes time as does re-arranging the traffic. The operation
could buy Italy (and Europe) some time to find a more appropriate
Do you think the joint efforts with the likes of the French and German
military shows a desire to stabilize the EU community through
specifically military action in a way that points to the possibility of
an EU army?
Since a few months, the project of an EU army seems to be very concrete
in the minds and strategies of many policy-makers around Europe so yes,
indeed, these joint efforts are particularly significant at this time.