Fighting Immigration and Mattei Plan, the Italian Model Reference for Common Future of Europe and Africa

Politics - May 1, 2024

On the issues of combating illegal immigration and building a constructive dialogue between Europe and African states based on cooperation among equals, the model proposed by Italy and Prime Minister Meloni is leading the way. In addition to the historic agreements with Tunisia and with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, to whom Europe has proposed 7.4 billion in aid and 600 million euros in grants – of which 200 million are earmarked for the emergency of migratory flows – the collaboration between Brussels and Nouakchott also fits into this context. During a visit to the Mauritanian capital, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and the Spanish prime minister, Socialist Pedro Sanchez, announced that the groundwork had been laid to help the economic development of the country led by President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani. In fact, Europe is ready to allocate 500 million euros in aid over the next five years. An extraordinary package that in 2024 alone, thanks to a first tranche of 210 million, will enable Mauritania to curb irregular migration and launch those projects that will promote social progress, job creation, and economic growth in the country.


From Mauritania to the Canary Islands, this is the new route most travelled by migrants

The West African republic, bordered to the north by Morocco, to the northeast by Algeria, to the east by Mali and to the south by Senegal, has proven to be a welcoming port for migrants in recent years. At the same time, however, the huge influx of people fleeing from countries plagued by crises and political instability, such as Gambia and Mali, has been intercepted by criminal organizations which have offered new routes to enter the territories of the Old Continent illegally.

Of the 31,200 irregular entries recorded by Frontex in the first two months of 2024, 12,100, or 38.78 percent of the total, set foot on European soil by landing on the shores of the Canary Islands. According to intelligence analysis, 83 percent of the people who landed in the Spanish outpost off Morocco would come precisely from Mauritania. A very long and very dangerous route that has quickly established itself as the one most traveled by traffickers and desperate peoples.


Not only a fight against irregular immigration: Spain follows the Italian model

The pressure on the Canary Islands is extremely high, to such an extent that one can speak of an emergency. The wave of migration, which has increased by 541 percent year-on-year, has found Spain unprepared. Premier Sanchez, faced with these numbers, has set to work to find a solution to the uncontrolled departures from Mauritania’s poorly guarded coasts. The Italian model, proposed by a government very distant from his own in approach and ideology, provided him with the keys and tools best suited to intervene.

In addition to economic resources to manage migration flows, the aid package to President Ghazouani included interventions to create opportunities for young people, to provide humanitarian aid, and to push the country’s economic and industrial growth. Madrid wants to focus especially on the development of projects related to green hydrogen production, to be implemented with the participation of Spanish companies.


The Mattei Plan, a bridge for the common future of Europe and Africa

Spain and Europe’s wide-ranging interventions in Mauritania follow to perfection the cooperation model set by Italy. During the Italy-Africa summit of last January, Giorgia Meloni had outlined the hot topics on which heads of state and prime ministers had discussed. In addition to curbing illegal immigration, the European and African delegations had placed education and training, energy security and transition, the fight against climate change, food security, and economic and infrastructure cooperation at the center of the political agenda. Specific themes that represent the pillars of the Mattei Plan, the span of that bridge that unites Europe and African states, shortening distances and fostering dialogue. But above all, one that affirms “a new model of cooperation in which we must all believe, which is based on responsibility, trust and respect,” as the Prime Minister reiterated before the authorities attending the Rome meeting last January 29.

With the launch of the Mattei Plan, Italy has in fact inaugurated a new season. There is and will still be a lot of work to be done, but how this Plan can be declined in its different lines of action was explained by the Head of State. The President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, during his visit to Ghana – the second leg of his trip to Africa after the Ivory Coast – dwelt on the figure of Enrico Mattei, on the collaboration among states and on the role of the Italian government.


The President of the Republic’s reference to the Mattei Plan and to the Italian government’s commitment during his visit to Ghana

The summit that took place last January, which President Akufo-Addo graciously attended – and I thank him again for this presence – confirmed Italy’s intention to promote joint, concerted action, in accordance with the indications of African countries, for concrete collaboration between Africa and Europe. The Mattei plan, which the Italian government launched evoking – as we recalled together with President Akufo-Addo – a protagonist of the friendship between Africa and Europe and a protagonist of the friendship for the independence then achieved by African countries, evokes precisely the will to collaborate on an equal level, according to the needs and indications to African countries, seeking to involve the whole of Europe in this,” said the Head of State from Accra during the press point that took place at the end of his talks with the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

As reported in a Quirinale note, President Mattarella also touched on other crucial points for the common future of Africa and Europe. A future that passes through the Mattei Plan and this partnership set on an equal relationship that even goes beyond the traditional collaboration on the energy front between Italian and Ghanaian companies.

Also on the cultural level,” President Mattarella reiterated, “we would like to increase our collaboration, especially university collaboration, for an exchange of researchers, for mutual knowledge and exchange of students. Because this allows to bring the younger generations closer in an intensification of our friendship. Also, because Italy hosts a large and appreciated Ghanaian community that is very well integrated in my country. Appreciated – I repeat – and contributing to the Italian economy and representing a bond of friendship between Ghana and Italy. So as President Akufo-Addo kindly mentioned, there are many Italians who have been living and working in Ghana for a long time. All this makes us think, of course, – thinking about the Ghanaian presence in Italy, so well inserted, integrated and appreciated – of the need to address together, globally, the migration phenomenon, which is a growing phenomenon, of great dimensions and must be converted, from a disorderly phenomenon in the cruel hands of human traffickers, into a phenomenon regulated by legal access, by regular, authorized, agreed upon entries. This is an important goal to make room for our younger generations and collaboration.”


Near Accra an example of how the Mattei Plan will be declined in the direction of training

The fight against irregular migration flows is also countered with culture and the possibility of allowing, to those who have been trained, to enter Italy and Europe legally. Among the stops on President Mattarella’s trip to Ghana, a visit to the Salesian “Don Bosco” vocational training center in Ashaiman played an emblematic role. Not far from Accra, in fact, the organization representing manufacturing and service companies in the Upper Adriatic, together with an employment agency, the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, the Salesian NGO “Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo” and other partners, has launched a project that allows young Ghanaians to be placed in Italian companies located in the national territory, after having successfully completed a vocational training course.

Ashaiman’s best practice is just one example of how the Mattei Plan can be declined on vocational education and training. Similar pilot projects will also be launched in Morocco, where a large center of excellence for vocational training on the subject of renewable energy may soon be established. It is in this way that collaboration benefits both Africa and Europe. Two continents that have a common future, as the Head of State Sergio Mattarella and the Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni have mentioned on several occasions.