Mattei Plan Is Not About Talk But Actions

Politics - March 18, 2024

Shamelessness and awareness. These are the feelings driving Giorgia Meloni, Italian Prime Minister and leader of the European conservatives, regarding the complex issue of immigration. At Palazzo Chigi, the seat of the Italian government, the control room for the Mattei Plan was inaugurated following important institutional meetings held last month with other leaders, prime ministers, and African heads of state hosted at the Senate.

“We will be the pioneers,” these are Meloni’s clear words indicating the path for a positive change. The goal is to write a new page for relations with Africa. To do this, it is imperative to involve the European Union and the G7 states, an intergovernmental forum of which Italy holds the presidency. Meloni, together with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, has visited Egypt to establish a Egypt-EU memorandum of understanding, very similar to the one already signed with Tunisia. A package of European assistance, including loans and grants, will provide 7.4 billion euros from this year until 2027. Also present were the Prime Ministers of Greece and Belgium, the Austrian Chancellor, and the President of the Republic of Cyprus. A “Team Europe” that is obligated to deliver results.

This initiative is not only useful to curb increasingly pressing immigration due to the severe humanitarian crises in the Middle East but also necessary for security, stability, and significant economic opportunity. In the meantime, Meloni, in addition to the memorandum with Egypt, has also scheduled several bilateral meetings focusing on the Mattei Plan and, of course, the migrant dossier. While departures from Egyptian coasts are nearly zero to date, Egypt borders the Gaza Strip for twelve kilometers, and the situation at the Rafah crossing is more critical than ever. An Egyptian socioeconomic crisis could lead to serious problems and escalate the situation in an instant. This is why it is crucial to engage in dialogue and understand what needs to be done to prevent this from happening.

No mere rhetoric in Africa, but concrete actions. Meloni has reiterated this time and again: “We work with a different approach in relations and cooperation that is not paternalistic, colonialist, or charitable. Africa is not poor; it holds 60 percent of arable land, 60 percent of metals, is experiencing rapid population growth, and thus has enormous human capital potential.”

Therefore, it is necessary to engage with a continent already heavily influenced by other foreign powers. To do so successfully, undoubtedly, requires money, but above all, targeted investments in those most problematic sectors and having an equal relationship. The countries involved in this initial phase will be nine: Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco, Ivory Coast, and Congo. Work tables will be created on the ground for projects agreed upon in six fields of interest: education and training, water and hygiene, health, agriculture, energy, and infrastructure. In recent weeks, the first operational expeditions have been conducted to structure the missions effectively. “In Brussels to share with European authorities, in Abidjan and Addis Ababa,” Meloni explains during the control room meeting. Alongside political meetings, economic meetings have also been held to understand the scope for action with all major international financial institutions. Many resources are needed, but also the will to act and real projects. The only way to build something good is to work together in a compact manner. The next control room meeting will be in April, while the first results should begin to be seen by June when the Italian Prime Minister will report to Parliament.

Europe finally has the opportunity to regain greatness and to engage on equal terms with anyone. Perhaps, at times, initial compromises will be necessary, but then the European dream is finally beginning to awaken again.