[Paris, 2011. Where was he from? Foto Rb]

Migrants do still come to Europe from non-European countries, both legally and illegally. The latter case was so tragically on the news recently as two boats full of so many desperate migrants sank near the island of Lampedusa. 

The right to movement over any area of the planet should not be questioned. Tragedies such as Lampedusa should not happen. People are entitled to look towards a better future. They should in fact be protected from exploitation of any kind.

In addition to the most dreadful of losses, the loss of human life, there are other problems. 

Even though migration is now regulated by law in several European countries, some lamentable sentiments of distrust and dislike have emerged. What has subsided in Europe, or at least in some countries in Europe, is, to an extent, acceptance of any number and type of migrants, and some right-wing political ideologies have built on this even on a racist level.

Yet, on the one hand Europe is almost by definition an intercultural and multicultural area, both historically through many interactions of various national cultures over the centuries, and also since the member countries became more integrated at EU level, and people can now move freely from one country to the next. On many levels, from cuisine to high culture, interaction has been in place among various EU member countries for years. How can multiculturalism, then, be questioned? Is it not constitutive of our identity?

In relation to non-European migrants, various national states in the EU have partly differing policies, but a level of integration has been achieved in a number of countries through education, intermarriage, antiracist legislation, commercial exchange, and so on.

Even in a country which in this respect is of recent enough immigration, such as Italy, the present Minister for Integration is Kashetu (Cécile) Kyenge, born in Congo.

Is it maybe wrong and too optimistic to maintain that despite difficulties it would be difficult to think that multiculturalism has lost importance in Europe?

Is multiculturalism not there to stay even though in times of unemployment, and for irrational social-psychological reasons, some people are afraid of foreigners, and other people advocate “small nations” as more valid than a continental identity?

The present writer, by the way, feels that he is European rather than Italian, and more in general affiliated to the human race and affected by cosmopolitanism, which he perceives as a positive value.

[Roberto Bertoni]