Angela Merkel became known for her extend-and-pretend solutions on the euro crisis, especially with Greece, where the unsuccessful anti-austerity pushback from Greece in 2015 highlighted. Piling on unpayable debt burdens to the eurozone "periphery" countries was the core of her economic extend-and-pretend approach. In immigration, the main extend-and-pretend solution was an agreement with Turkey to house refugees coming their direction. Ironically, they also rely on Greece for the same thing. And Italy
Meanwhile, there has been no meaningful progress on practical intra-EU arrangements in meaningfully dealing with refugees on a fair burden-sharing basis. (The xenophobic politicians in Germany and Austria prefer to call them all "migrants," to more easily brand them as moochers coming live high on the hog in good white Christian countries.) Meanwhile, Greece has knuckled under to enduring a permanent depression on the orders of the EU establishment, and of Germany more particularly, and is in chronically desperate states. Italy is also fighting the austerity trap. And name-calling and hostile statements against Turkey are popular favorites for conservative politicians in Germany and Austria. Plus, Germany has known for years that BAMF, its own refugee-resettlement agency, had severe management problems and wasn't prepared for the 2015 upsurge. And still isn't prepared. (How Germany's BAMF refugee agency became a 'political scapegoat' Deutsche Welle 30.05.2018)
So this is an inherently unstable situation. And Greece, Italy, and Turkey can threaten to send large groups on their way north.
In Italy, the new Interior Minister, the national official in charge of law-enforcement - not natural resources like the Interior in the US - is Matteo Salvini, a toxic xenophobe from the far-right League party, which is the junior partner in the new national coalition government. Chico Harlan writes (The torchbearer of Italy’s far right is now in power and wants to make good on anti-migrant promises Washington Post 06/04/20118):
With an Italy-first message, Salvini has rocketed into the center of Europe’s battle over migration. He is recasting the cultural debate about how to treat those fleeing the Middle East and Africa, highlighting examples of migrant criminality and describing the influx as an “invasion.” And now, in his first week in control of Italy’s interior ministry, he has power to do what he has pledged: more tightly close the doors of a country that, several years ago, ranked among the most welcoming in Europe.
Salvini has risen to power on a mix of grass-roots anxiety and his own political acumen. He is the leader of Italy’s far-right League, a once-fringe regional secessionist party that polls now show is on the brink of becoming the country’s most popular party. He styles himself as a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a thorn in the side of Brussels bureaucrats. He is an irrepressible social media user. He has a public profile far larger than that of Italy’s new prime minister, an academic with little political experience. ...
Among those who crossed the Mediterranean last year, 64 percent landed in Italy. Some 400,000 have applied for asylum here [Italy] over the past four years ...
What makes Salvini stand apart, though, is that he so unsparingly highlights what he sees as the problems with migration. When a Nigerian immigrant was arrested this year in the killing of an 18-year-old, Salvini wrote on Facebook, “What was this maggot still doing in Italy?” Last week, during negotiations to form a government, Salvini posted video footage of what he said was a supposed migrant plucking the feathers of a pigeon. “In broad daylight in the middle of the street,” he wrote. “Go home!!!”
Michael Brooks gives a good summary of the Italian coalition in the first 12 minutes or so of this video, TMBS - 43 - How Not To Do Identity Politics 06/06/2018 (?):