4th Jun 2023

Italy to jail clandestine migrants

  • A new crime of 'illegal immigration' has been constructed in Italy. (Photo: European Commission)

EU home affairs ministers are gathering in Brussels to discuss a number of proposals on immigration, attempting to set a common approach across member states.

Eyes will also be on Italy after the country passed a controversial law on Wednesday (23 July) that would make undocumented migration a crime punishable by up to four years in jail.

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

A total of 161 Italian lawmakers in the country's senate supported the measures, while 120 were against and eight abstained.

According to media reports, the legislation will introduce a new criminal offence - "illegal immigration" - punishable by six months to four years in prison. The law also states that property rented to an undocumented immigrant can be confiscated.

The maximum period an immigrant can be kept in detention after illegally setting foot on Italian territory will be extended to 18 months - which is in line with EU-wide rules on returning non-EU nationals who do not or no longer fulfill the conditions for entry, stay or residence in a member state.

"Foreigners committed 60 percent of the attempted homicides, 60 percent of the robberies [and] 82 percent of the muggings," Sandro Mazzatorta of the anti-immigrant Northern League party told the the BBC, referring to his perceptions of the situation in the city of Brescia.

The country's interior minister is also a member of the Northern League, in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's governing coalition. Mr Berlusconi returned to power following snap parliamentary elections in April. Fears over irregular immigration featured prominently during the campaign.

But the tough line has come under heavy criticism from the country's left-wing opposition political parties as well as the Catholic Church and human rights organisations.

According to Anna Finocchiaro from the Democratic Party, the newly adopted law undermines the principle of equality. "I don't know why someone should be punished more because they're an illegal immigrant," she said, reports.

Other opposition politicians have warned it could also aggravate racism in the country.

Ministerial meeting

Immigration will also be a central theme when EU home affairs ministers gather in Brussels to consider the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum - an idea presented by the French EU presidency earlier this month.

The pact is to set out common EU guidelines for how to cope with the rising numbers of migrants wanting to make their home in Europe. Current estimates suggest there are some eight million undocumented migrants in the EU.

In addition, ministers will discuss a Brussels-drafted law, suggesting that all employers who hire undocumented entrants should be sanctioned. The European Commission believes that tougher penalties, along with an unified approach across the EU, are vital to crack down on clandestine migrants.

In order to alleviate the pressure of irregular migration while at the same time trying to fulfill Europe's hunger for workers, the meeting will look into the conditions of entry and residence of non-EU nationals suitable for vacant positions requiring high levels of education.


Europe's missing mails

How the EU Commission and national governments delete official emails and text messages — creating areas of decision-making without oversight and control.

MEPs urge Orbán to act to unblock EU money

MEPs tasked with controlling spending of EU funds said they continued to have "great concerns" on how Hungary is handling EU money and called on prime minister Viktor Orbán's government to implement the necessary reforms to unblock suspended EU funds.

Latest News

  1. Spanish PM to delay EU presidency speech due to snap election
  2. EU data protection chief launches Frontex investigation
  3. Madrid steps up bid to host EU anti-money laundering hub
  4. How EU leaders should deal with Chinese government repression
  5. MEPs pile on pressure for EU to delay Hungary's presidency
  6. IEA: World 'comfortably' on track for renewables target
  7. Europe's TV union wooing Lavrov for splashy interview
  8. ECB: eurozone home prices could see 'disorderly' fall

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. InformaConnecting Expert Industry-Leaders, Top Suppliers, and Inquiring Buyers all in one space - visit Battery Show Europe.
  2. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us