Representatives of several European Universities gathered in Naples' Orientale University | Photo: ANSA/Francesco Tedesco
Representatives of several European Universities gathered in Naples' Orientale University | Photo: ANSA/Francesco Tedesco

The Naples Orientale University works with other academic institutions on future immigration policies as part of a project that was discussed at a meeting on Monday, September 23, in the southern port city.

Ten European universities are analyzing data on migrant flows, setting guidelines to harmonize national policies and to improve European integration strategies thanks to the project MAPS (Migration and Asylum Policies System).
Participants met on Monday in Naples to discuss the latest developments of the project, which is promoted by the Orientale University in Naples and funded by the European Union. The other nine universities taking part in the initiative are: National and Kapodistrian University in Athens, University La Coruna (Spain), University Jean Moulin in Lyon, University of Malta, University of Innsbruck (Austria), Queen Mary University in London, University Goce Delcev of Macedonia, University of Sarajevo and the Stiftung Europa Universitat Viadrina in Frankfurt.

'Arrivals on the rise but no real emergency'

At the meeting on Monday university representatives discussed their studies, reporting an increase in migrant arrivals but no real emergency, said Professor Giuseppe Cataldi, the head of the MAPS project at the Orientale. "Today's meeting highlighted huge discrepancies in legislation and administrative practices in the management of the migratory issue and in the recognition of refugee status," said the academic.

The objective of the project, continued Cataldi, is to present policy makers with future options: "We are aiming for a modest but competent proposal for policy makers at a national level and especially at a European level." The head of the MAPS project also said participants discussed the need to react against a "wave of nationalism that questions international legislation on search and rescue operations at sea and human rights law."

Call for 'return to normality'

States are also criminalizing those carrying out rescue operations, he noted, adding that university representatives called for a "return to normality.There is nothing exceptional in the migratory phenomenon, we have all been migrants and there is no emergency, especially in a prosperous area like Europe," he said.

The universities' studies on immigration were hailed by local administrators including Laura Marmorale, the city councilor in Naples for immigration and social integration policies. The project at the Orientale university, she said "is a very important initiative with many European partners, the best occasion for researchers to join forces and help us in the management of migrant flows."

The Greek situation

The situation in Greece was among the focus of discussion. Maria Gavouneli of the University of Athens was one of the participants."Before 2011," she explained, "Greece did not have centers for asylum seekers because they hadn't experienced any significant arrivals." Over the last few years, their numbers have steadily increased. Gavouneli pointed out that in 2013 there were only 233 asylum applicants, the following year approximately 5,000.  There were about one million arrivals in 2015 but very few applied for asylum in Greece because "they were in transit towards other European countries," Gavouneli explained.

Migrants generally "don't look for a job in Greece and they are not interested in learning the language" because they are not interested in staying, noted Gavouneli. The various situations reported in countries examined by researchers require different solutions which universities are proposing to policy makers, said Cataldi.


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