Friday

9th Dec 2022

Italy wants EU bonds to fund migration policies

  • "The unprecedented phenomenon of growing migratory flows towards Europe is expected to last for decades," says Italy (Photo: iom.int)

With Italy at risk of once again becoming a principal migratory route, Rome is trying to take the lead on strategy by floating ideas for funding migration policy with European bonds.

Italy called for the creation of "migration bonds" and "EU-Africa" bonds in a proposal for a "migration compact" briefly discussed at a foreign affairs ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The first category would be issued "to fund the migration management in member states and to finance the migration compact" goals, the document says.

The objective of the EU-Africa bonds would be "to facilitate the access of African countries to capital markets … as well as other innovative financing initiatives".

"It is an innovative solution. It could be used to fund infrastructure projects which are useful to the development of the countries," an Italian official told EUobserver.

While the Africa bonds are a new idea, bonds to fund EU migration policies were already proposed in another document, on economic issues, published by the Italian government in February.

But the idea was rejected by Germany, a long-time critic of collective EU debt, also on Monday.

"The German government does not see any basis for a common funding of debt for member states' spending for migration," chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman told journalists in Berlin.

The EU commission took note of Germany’s statement but sounded more open to the idea.

"The commission has always supported the idea that in order to finance migration policies, we have to be imaginative," its spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, told journalists.

The migration compact, which was briefly discussed by foreign affairs ministers in Luxembourg, contains wider suggestions.

In the document, Italian authorities warned that “the unprecedented phenomenon of growing migratory flows towards Europe is expected to last for decades due to various geopolitical dynamics in the neighbourhood and beyond".

"The migratory challenge is seriously jeopardising the fundamental pillars of European integration (e.g. integrity of the Schengen area) and solidarity among member states.”

It adds that “migration may represent an opportunity both for the EU and partner countries, in terms of economic growth and development, and for an ageing Europe in terms of sustainability of social security systems".

Grand bargain

The compact's objective, the Italian official said, is to make EU foreign policy address the crisis in parallel to EU internal developments.

"If we don't focus on the reasons for the economic migration, the internal solutions will never be sufficient," the official said.

The Italian government’s "fair grand bargain" would see the EU offer investment projects and security cooperation in addition to the bond scheme.

It would also expand opportunities for legal migration and resettlement programmes "as compensation for the burden on those countries that engage in establishing national asylum systems in line with international standards".

In return, the EU would ask countries of origin of migrants, mainly in Africa, for a "commitment on effective border control and reduction of flows towards Europe" as well as commitments on returns.

Target countries would also be asked to establish sites to "screen refugees and economic migrants" similar to the EU “hotspots” in Greece and Italy. They would host "reception centres for refugees, financed by the EU".

EU diplomacy chief Federica Mogherini said after the foreign ministers meeting that “most of [the Italian plan’s] elements support [the EU's] ongoing work and activities.”

"It constitutes a positive political contribution," she said.

Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker was, his spokesman said, also “very glad" to find "strong support by Italy and prime minister Renzi himself" for a European solution to the problems.

Juncker's thumbs up for Renzi comes after the two leaders fell out during the winter.

New increase

Renzi, who is battling to obtain more budget flexibility from the EU, especially for spending on migration, needs Juncker’s support.

The Italian PM wants his plan to be discussed by EU leaders at their next summit in June.

Italy's proposal comes amid concerns over a new increase in migrant arrivals across the central Mediterranean Sea.

On Monday, EU border agency Frontex said the number of migrants crossing to Italy had more than doubled in March compared to February because of better weather.

There were 9,600 detections, compared with 2,283 in March 2015, just before the EU launched a naval mission to stop people smuggling across the sea.

Exactly a year ago, on 18 April 2015, Mogherini recalled, some 800 people died when their boat sank on its way from Libya to Italy.

Tusk says 'alarming' numbers of migrants in Libya

Council chief substantiated concern that more people could cross the Mediterranean to Italy and Malta, and warned that relying on refugee relocations to face migrant flows would be a “mistake”.

Turkish PM issues EU visa ultimatum

Turkey wants guarantees visas will be lifted on its nationals in the passport-free Schengen zone by June or it won't stick to its side of the agreement in the EU-Turkey migration deal.

Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Terezija Gras from Croatia, Dutchman Hans Leijtens, and Frontex's current interim executive director Aija Kalnaja, are all competing for a job left vacant by the resignation of Fabrice Leggeri.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  6. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe

Latest News

  1. EU lets Croatia into Schengen, keeps Bulgaria and Romania out
  2. Energy crisis costs thousands of EU jobs, but industrial output stable
  3. Illegal pushbacks happening daily in Croatia, says NGO
  4. No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU
  5. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  6. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents
  7. The military-industrial complex cashing-in on the Ukraine war
  8. EU delays Hungary funds decision, as Budapest vetoes Ukraine aid

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us