Berlusconi, Sarkozy to meet amid differences over fate of Tunisian migrants, foreign takeovers

Berlusconi, Sarkozy to meet amid differences over fate of Tunisian migrants, foreign takeovers
# 26 April 2011 04:16 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Immigration, Libya’s unrest, and economic tensions over French takeovers of Italian companies will all be on the agenda when French President Nicolas Sarkozy meets in Rome with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday, APA reports quoting “Associated Press”.
Franco-Italian relations are normally friendly, but this summit comes amid growing differences.
Italy wants France’s co-operation in coping with an influx of Tunisians, many of whom want to join relatives in France, Tunisia’s former colonial ruler. Rome says Europe should be co-ordinating a response, and not leaving it to Italy, where many North Africans have fled, to shoulder the burden alone.
The two leaders also are expected to discuss French advances on Italian businesses after Italy moved to block the French group Lactalis from taking over the Parmalat dairy company.
On Libya, there is more agreement.
Both Rome and Paris want to unfreeze Libyan funds hit by sanctions and give the money to the rebels, and both want Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to step down and leave.
Top security officials from France and Italy met earlier this month in Milan and attempted to patch up differences over the fate of thousands of Tunisian migrants fleeing unrest at home. The officials pledged joint sea-and-air patrols, and France promised to honour temporary residency documents Rome is issuing to the migrants who have flooded Italy in recent months.
But differences remain.
France last week stopped a train carrying Tunisian immigrants from Italy at the French border, and has sent back migrants who cannot support themselves financially.
Since January an estimated 26,000 Tunisians have arrived in Italy, the closest European country to Tunisia. Rome’s insistence that Europe should share the burden of their care has not resulted in concrete measures.
France and Germany have both criticized Italy’s decision to issue many of the Tunisian immigrants temporary residence permits and say that allows them to go anywhere in Europe’s 25-nation Schengen zone. Italian news reports suggest that France will seek to temporarily suspend the Schengen agreement, which allows legal European residents to cross borders without visas.
On the economic front, Italy has approved measures — which they say mirror French ones — to protect key industries from takeovers.
Italy has grown sensitive to French moves after dairy company Lactalis this week came closer to gaining majority control of Italy’s Parmalat. LVMH Group also recently bought Bulgari jewelers, and France’s Edf has sought to increase its ownership in the Edison power company.
Italy’s government has allowed a delay of previously announced shareholder meetings, which in the case of Parmalat is buying time for Italian bidders to come up with a counter offer and prevents Lactalis from pushing for management changes of its own.
Lactalis lost a legal challenge to the delayed meeting, which will be held in June.
French officials have said Italy has no reason to fear a French invasion of businesses, noting France and Italy each have €30 billion ($43.75 billion) in investment in the other’s country, with the trade deficit being €3 billion in Italy’s favour.
Sarkozy also is expected to make clear whether France will back Italian Central Banker Mario Draghi as the new head of the European Central Bank.

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