This article is an on-site version of our Europe Express newsletter. Sign up here to get the newsletter sent straight to your inbox every weekday and Saturday morning
Good morning. Kyiv was spooked last night by missiles and gunfire targeting a drone overhead — before Ukraine’s air force admitted it was one of theirs, gone rogue. That followed Wednesday morning’s drone attack on the Kremlin in Moscow: here’s our analysis of that murky incident.
Today, our Rome and Paris bureau chiefs unpack last night’s Franco-Italian migration tantrum, and Poland’s man in Brussels tells our agriculture correspondent Warsaw won’t play ball until Ukrainian grain is shifted out of his country.
I’m away next week. Laura’s in charge. Have a great weekend.
No love lost
Italy’s foreign minister Antonio Tajani was supposed to dine with his French counterpart in Paris last night, laying the groundwork for the first official visit of prime minister Giorgia Meloni to France.
But Tajani cancelled at the last minute amid bitter recriminations, after French interior minister Gérald Darmanin lambasted Meloni for failing to handle rising migration numbers, write Amy Kazmin and Leila Abboud.
Context: Relations between Rome and Paris soured in November, when Italy rebuffed a plea for safe harbour for 234 migrants rescued by a French charity from the Mediterranean Sea. France allowed the migrants to disembark but slammed Italy’s conduct. Tensions have simmered ever since.
Tajani’s trip was aimed at getting the rocky relationship back on track, and to lay the groundwork for a broader agenda of talks, including issues of common interest such as Ukraine and north Africa.
More than 42,400 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, up from 11,226 last year, as conditions in Tunisia, and other countries deteriorate.
Darmanin’s attack on Meloni came after he announced the deployment of 150 additional police officers to the Italian border, amid fears that many migrants arriving in Italy will move on to France.
After a close ally of France’s far-right opposition leader Marine Le Pen complained the deployment was insufficient, Darmanin angrily lashed out, likening Meloni to Le Pen.
“Madame Meloni, the far-right government chosen by the friends of Mrs Le Pen, is unable to resolve the migratory problems on which she was elected,” he said, saying that Italy was facing “a very serious migration crisis” that had got worse under Meloni’s leadership.
He complained that Italy was “unable to manage . . . this migratory pressure”, and that many young people were arriving in France.
Darmanin’s salvo was a clumsy attempt at an attack on Le Pen for the domestic audience, suggesting Le Pen would be similarly unable to control migrant flows.
But it ended up creating a diplomatic incident.
Afterwards, the French foreign ministry tried to patch things up, insisting in a short statement that Paris wanted to work “in a spirit of solidarity” with Italy to “face the common challenge” of the migrant influx.
But Tajani had lost his appetite.
“The minister’s insults to the government and to Italy are unacceptable,” he said on Twitter, announcing he’d changed plans. “This is not the spirit in which common European challenges should be faced.”
Chart du jour: Huge regrets
In all but three constituencies in the UK, the majority of people think Brexit was a mistake, according to survey data cited in the Britain after Brexit newsletter.
The mountain of Ukrainian grain piling up in Poland and other neighbours is increasingly spilling into other policy areas.
Poland’s ambassador has confirmed that if the issue is not dealt with, Warsaw will hold up key priorities for Brussels, writes Andy Bounds.
Context: Brussels has agreed to ban imports of Ukrainian cereals to five member states until June 5, except for loads in transit. Farmers complained it flooded the market and depressed prices, after the EU dropped tariffs on food imports to support Kyiv in its war with Russia.
Poland has made it clear that the millions of tonnes in the country need to be moved, ideally to traditional Ukrainian export markets in Africa and Asia.
If not, an agreement on development and economic co-operation with 79 countries — the post-Cotonou deal — will struggle to obtain ratification in Warsaw’s parliament, the country’s permanent representative in Brussels told the Financial Times.
“We want to support Ukraine but the bankruptcy of farmers is not a price we want to pay. We want a solution for the export of this grain,” Andrzej Sadoś said. He pointed out that Russia’s invasion had “had a negative impact on food security” in these countries.
Sadoś also pushed for sanctions on potash from Belarus, which some countries are lobbying against, fearing that step would deprive them of vital fertilisers.
“Since January 10 we have been very frustrated about the lack of a decision on Belarus,” Sadoś said. “We are not blocking anything. But we need time to get our internal position [on post-Cotonou].”
Translating from the Polish: The post-Cotonou deal is not happening until the grain is moved and potash is banned.
What to watch today
EU leaders travel to London ahead of the coronation of King Charles.
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg hosts Estonian foreign minister Margus Tsahkna.
Now read these
Are you enjoying Europe Express? Sign up here to have it delivered straight to your inbox every workday at 7am CET and on Saturdays at noon CET. Do tell us what you think, we love to hear from you: [email protected]. Keep up with the latest European stories @FT Europe