June 21. 2024. 2:25

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Italian PM Meloni in power game with Salvini over migration


Following a migrant boat tragedy in Calabria, which left at least 72 people dead, a Council of Ministers will be held in Cutro on Thursday with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and League’s Matteo Salvini expected to cross swords over migration.

Italian media reports that the shipwreck has increased tensions in the coalition as Meloni (Brothers of Italy/Ecr) works on a new migration decree after the ‘flows decree’ and the ‘code of conduct’ for NGO ships.

Council of Europe slams Italy on migration law

The Council of Europe has urged Italy to scrap a decree seeking to regulate NGO migrant rescue operations at sea, describing it as a breach of international law.

The League (ID) has called for the inclusion of regulations provided for in the Security decrees passed in 2018 by the Giuseppe Conte government (5 Stars Movement) when Salvini was interior minister.

Particularly, a clampdown on the issuance of residence permits has been proposed.

“According to the data of the UN and institutes that refer to the EU Commission, in the last ten years, the year in which fewer deaths occurred in the Mediterranean was coincidentally 2019, when I was minister of the Interior and when the security decrees were in force. It is obvious that the fewer people you leave at the hands of the smugglers and traffickers, the fewer people you risk”, said Salvini, deputy prime minister and minister of transport.

‘We will not re-write Salvini’s decrees’

However, Meloni does not seem eager to leave room for the League leader on the migration portfolio he holds dear.

Meloni’s plans are not expected to follow up on the tightening of residence permits but instead go in the direction of strengthening humanitarian corridors and boosting regular flows on the one hand and combating the criminal networks of boatmen on the other.

“We will not rewrite the Salvini decrees”, said Interior Ministry Undersecretary Wanda Ferro (Fdi/Ecr).

The League’s bill on residence permits will be considered in the House Constitutional Affairs Committee on the same day as the Council of Ministers.

“We will discuss it in committee, and we will see whether Brothers of Italy will vote for them or not”, said League House group leader Riccardo Molinari.

“A reception system like the current one, full of loopholes and unbalanced toward the ‘windfall’ distribution of residence permits, is not able to withstand in the medium and long term the challenges that migration numbers pose to our country”, the bill reads.

League MEP Susanna Ceccardi told EURACTIV Italy that it is crucial to distinguish between asylum seekers and economic migrants.

“We cannot have the doors wide open to everyone. Our social, security and economic system cannot support that. The Salvini decrees clarified who really has the right to come to our country and who does not”, Ceccardi said.

She said if Rome does not make these distinctions now, “paradoxically, we risk leaving behind those most in need”.

“Humanitarian corridors are a useful tool, but precisely only those entitled to international protection can access the corridors. Those who are economic migrants must find legal ways through the search for a job”, she added.

Commenting on the tragic shipwreck, Ceccardi said, is the direct responsibility of the criminal management of traffickers.

“Taxi drivers of death who use migrants as an ATM and meat for slaughter”, she told EURACTIV.

A European response

Only on Wednesday, 124 migrants arrived on the island of Lampedusa in three different boats that required as many rescue operations.

Two of the three boats left the day before from Tunisia and one of them sank but no loss of life was reported.

On the same day, Meloni welcomed Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Rome.

“This terrible shipwreck that took place last week, with dozens of people drowning, demonstrated more the urgency of preventing this kind of tragedy”, said Rutte, who insists on applying the Dublin Regulation to limit secondary movements.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen thanked Italy for its efforts to manage migration in a letter in response to the one sent to Brussels by Meloni in the aftermath of the shipwreck.

“The EU and Italy have been working together for many years to strengthen border management and search and rescue capabilities […] We need to coordinate our actions with key partners to prevent irregular departures and save lives at sea”, von der Leyen wrote.

For Ceccardi, the EU Commission chief “finally confirmed”. what the League has always advocated

“More cooperation with North African countries to prevent irregular departures and increase coordination for control activities at sea […] Does Europe realise only now that to prevent the Mediterranean from becoming a graveyard, irregular departures must be prevented?” she commented.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)