French border checks in force over Italy’s migrant policy

Lines formed at Italy’s northern border crossings with France following Paris’ decision to reinforce border controls over a diplomatic row with Italy about migration policy and humanitarian rescue ships that shows no end in sight. France announced this week it was sending 500 extra officers to beef up its frontiers with Italy in retaliation for Italy’s delays in helping humanitarian ships that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean. After a weekslong-standoff, Italy allowed three aid groups to disembark their passengers in Italian ports because doctors determined they were all vulnerable, but refused entry to a fourth. The Ocean Viking charity rescue ship, which had been at sea for nearly three weeks, eventually docked in Toulon, France after Paris reluctantly took it in.

France strongly criticized Italy’s handling of the Ocean Viking, which was accompanied by triumphant social media posts by right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini that “the air has changed” before France had publicly agreed to take it in. In retaliation, France announced it was withdrawing from a European Union “solidarity” mechanism approved in June to relocate 3,000 migrants from Italy.