Davide Ruggeri, an 18-year-old high school student in Rome, first began to notice the effects of the migration crisis in his early teens. It was a time when North Africa was in turmoil. Thousands of people were fleeing in makeshift boats to Italy’s coasts and moving up through the rail network, in search of better lives in the wealthier countries of Northern Europe. Some made it to Ruggeri’s neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Rome, where they eked out a living in squats and the black economy.
The son of a teacher and an IT technician, Ruggeri holds the view — widespread in Italy — that the country has been abandoned by the European Union and forced to deal with the crisis alone: bearing the brunt without adequate funds to deal with it, disadvantaged by EU rules that asylum seekers must claim refuge in the country they first arrive in, irrespective of whether they hoped to travel on to another EU country.
Asked whether he feels European, he hesitates.