06 April 2011
Italy and Tunisia have signed an accord for managing the immigration emergency. The agreement was signed by Interior Minister Maroni in Tunis after lengthy negotiations with the local authorities. Minister Maroni explained that this was "a technical cooperation accord between the two countries to combat illegal immigration that envisages repatriation in addition to strengthened collaboration between the police forces". Indeed, one of the accord's points provides for direct repatriation for Tunisians arriving in Italy by boat after the entry into effect of the decree on temporary permits to be signed tomorrow.
The government has set up an interministerial contact group to monitor application of the accord, the members of which, in addition to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, will include the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Interior, Defence, Infrastructure and Transport, Economic Development, and Labour and Social Policies, with the coordination of the Office of the Diplomatic Advisor to the Prime Minister. Participants in today's meeting included, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Ministers Frattini, Maroni, La Russa, Alfano, Romani, Matteoli, Sacconi and Fazio, and Undersecretaries to the Prime Minister Letta and Bonaiuti.
Europe has sent a significant response to Italy's appeal for assistance: yesterday, by broad majority, the Strasbourg Parliament approved a report presented by Northern League EuroPM Fiorello Provera recommending that the governments of all 27 members assist Italy, and asking Commissioner Malmstrom to activate the mechanism of solidarity envisaged in the treaties, including Directive 55 on the "temporary protection" of refugees fleeing war zones.
Immigration will be one of the items on the agenda of the summit between Prime Minister Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Rome on 26 April.