Since the beginning of the migration crisis in the 1990s, Italy and Germany have been considered to be two paradigmatic examples for different migration control systems in Europe. Italy was often seen as having a lax migration regime with weak border controls and few guarantees for asylum seekers and refugees. In contrast, Germany was presented as a perfect example of asylum machinery with neither irregular migrants nor periodic regularisation processes. At the beginning of the 21st century the migration debate still suggests the idea of an "inefficient South" towards an "effective North" in matters of immigration control and humanitarian protection. This article challenges this bipolar vision of European migration and shows that the so-called "north-south" axis is not based on any empirical evidence but on a myth which does not take into account the logic of control policies and the socio-economic contexts in which they are carried out.