Tuesday

16th Jul 2019

Italy approves harsh anti-immigration bill

  • Not wanted: illegal immigrants in Italy could have to pay up to €10,000 fines (Photo: European Commission)

The Italian lower house on Wednesday (13 May) approved legislation which criminalises irregular immigration, sets up citizen anti-crime 'patrols' and sentences landlords to up to three years of prison if they rent to undocumented migrants.

The legislation, which still has to be approved by the Senate, makes entering or staying in Italy without permission a crime punishable by a fine of €5,000 to €10,000.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

A provision to triple the time irregular immigrants can be detained in holding centres also forms part of the security package, approved by 316 votes for to 238.

Silvio Berlusconi, who last year made irregular immigration the core of his successful re-election campaign, linked the bill to a vote of confidence for his government. The move ensured that more liberal-thinking members of the ruling coalition would not vote against it and so bring down the government.

"This is a fundamental step to equip law enforcement officials and mayors with the means to combat crime in general," interior minister Roberto Maroni from the hard-right anti-immigrant Northern League party said following the vote.

Italy's centre-left opposition, the Catholic Church and human rights activists have slammed the criminalisation of immigrants and said the citizen-patrols would soon turn into vigilante groups likely to harass foreigners and minorities such as the Roma.

In reply, Mr Maroni said the patrols would mostly consist of unarmed, retired police officers.

Earlier this week, Italy already came under fire from the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) and the Vatican after it started returning boatloads of migrants to Libya before they could claim asylum.

The action was in breach with international law on refugees, the UN warned.

"You should listen to the voice of the United Nations, you should listen to the authoritative voice of the Church, people can not ignore this. This government seems to be made up of supermen who have no respect for the UN," said the Democratic party's Marco Minitti.

Mr Berlusconi seems determined to stick with the vote-bringing anti-immigrant policies, however. In defence of his new bill he said that he does not support a multi-ethnic Italy.

"The left's idea is of a multi-ethnic Italy. That's not our idea, ours is to welcome only those who meet the conditions for political asylum," he told a news conference last weekend.

For now, the EU has kept silent over the new measures as they still need to be approved by the Senate. Last October, though, the Berlusconi government was forced to back down on some draconian anti-Roma measures, after the EU commission threatened to start legal proceedings against Rome.

EU defends US data pact, as Facebook court case opens

An Austrian privacy campaigner vs Facebook over the future of data transfers to the US case opened at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Tuesday. The European Commission, meanwhile, says the Privacy Shield pact is working fine.

News in Brief

  1. Ansip's ex-cabinet chief to head EU cybersecurity agency
  2. Malta starts trial of journalist murder suspects
  3. Full text of von der Leyen candidacy speech to MEPs
  4. Von der Leyen open to further Brexit delay
  5. Von der Leyen promises carbon border tax
  6. Brexit: both UK PM candidates say Irish backstop is 'dead'
  7. Mogherini: Iran's nuclear enrichment 'reversible'
  8. Report: Selmayr to leave 'next week'

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Son: Malta trial for murdered journalist 'not enough'
  2. Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post
  3. EU talks tough on Turkey, but arms sales go on
  4. The Abortion Exodus - more Poles and Croats going abroad
  5. Poland's ex-PM loses EU parliament chair again
  6. Von der Leyen reaches out to left and liberal MEPs
  7. Farmers among new MEPs deciding on EU farming money
  8. Von der Leyen's EU vote far from sure

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us