Europe's Migrant Deal Raises Fresh Questions

(Bloomberg) --

Stalked by Europe’s surge of populism, the continent’s leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron clinched a deal on migration after Italy flexed its muscles and Angela Merkel warned the European Union’s fate at stake. Markets cheered.

Like bygone summits to save the euro, leaders haggled into the wee hours of this morning for results to present to voters back home. The German chancellor emerged after 4:30 a.m. with an agreement: boost border security, set up holding centers, send rejected asylum seekers home and – meeting Italy’s key demand – overhaul rules for distributing migrants when a gateway country is overwhelmed.

It was a major step to rally unity at a time when growing doubts about U.S. President Donald Trump’s commitment to the bloc’s security prompted consensus on boosting defense cooperation.

But while Merkel spoke of a “good signal” and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Italy is “no longer alone,” the deal raises as many questions as answers.

For all its many holes, the accord may be enough for Merkel to stave off a revolt by her Bavarian sister party that could have deprived her of a parliamentary majority. For Europe as a whole, faced with a populist Italian government emboldened by its victory, there may be more troubled times ahead.

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And finally ... It was hard not to draw parallels with Brexit as England and Belgium came face to face in a World Cup match. It coincided with embattled U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May at the EU summit in Brussels where her negotiating side seems increasingly outflanked. The soccer result would seem to reflect that state of play: 1-0 to the Belgians. The image endures of May awkwardly holding a gift from her Belgian counterpart: a bright red soccer shirt of the rival team.

 

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