The government’s migration-focussed meeting. On Thursday, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and several key ministers got together in the Southern town of Cutro, where a tragic shipwreck claimed the lives of over 70 migrants in late February.
- Holding the Council of Ministers meeting there was meant to signal the government’s attention to the issue, as a host of Italian citizens – and the opposition – are questioning the authorities’ handling of the incident.
A crackdown on traffickers. “The government […] intends to stop the trafficking of human beings,” said PM Meloni at a press conference along with her two deputy PMs, Transport Minister Matteo Salvini and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, as well as Justice Minister Carlo Nordio, Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, and Undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano.
- They signed off on a new migration flow management decree featuring harsher penalties for human smugglers – up to 30 years in the most serious cases – and more effective expulsion practices.
- The PM sought to emphasise the government’s “policy of greater firmness” and launched a message to deter human trafficking. “It is not convenient to enter Italy illegally. Pay the smugglers and risk dying.”
- On the other hand, the decree also features measures to strengthen legitimate immigration – such as streamlined procedures for legal entry into Italy and higher quotas of work-related immigration visas.
- Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida recently noted there are 300.000 to 500.000 places opening up.
The European game. The Italian leader has been pushing other member States to help Italy more meaningfully on the migration issue and reform existing laws, which place a significant burden on first-entry countries. The next significant date is the European Council meeting on March 23-24.
- PM Meloni discussed the issue with her Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte when he visited Rome on Wednesday. He also called to curb human trafficking and harmonise intra-European migration management through a more efficient approach.
- Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had promised to offer “effective and lasting” solutions in the upcoming new Pact for Migration and Asylum, which will be tackled in the coming weeks. However, no agreement is in sight yet.