Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio during closing remarks at the Med Conference at Rome's Parco dei Principi Hotel on December 7, 2019 | ANSA/Fabio Frustac
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio during closing remarks at the Med Conference at Rome's Parco dei Principi Hotel on December 7, 2019 | ANSA/Fabio Frustac

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has said Italy was a "positive example for all of Europe" in terms of migratory policies, highlighting that the "Safe Countries" decree presented by the government in October has had a positive impact on migrant flows.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said that on the topic of migrants, Italy is a "positive example for all of Europe." Di Maio made the remarks at a hearing of the Schengen Committee in the Italian Parliament on Wednesday.

"We have signed accords with 30 countries; some are working, others need new life, but we believe that their number and their efficiency must be increased," Di Maio said.

"The Valletta agreement is only a first step. It's time to insist in Brussels and with our partners," he added. He further argued that the Dublin Regulation "must be changed," for while it allows for the relocations of asylum seekers, "all of those who don't have the requisites remain Italy's problem."

'Positive impact'

During the hearing, Di Maio claimed the Safe Countries decree had a "positive impact on migrants flows." The number of irregular migrant arrivals to Italy has dropped from 180,000 in 2016 to 11,000 this year, he said. These numbers are in keeping with those of UNHCR.

The new decree lists countries Italy considers safe, and whose citizens are therefore not eligible to receive asylum in Italy - unless the individual asylum seeker is able to demonstrate that the return to their home country could cause severe harm.

Di Maio said the nature of migrant flows to Italy has also changed. "In 2017/18, most migrants came from Libya and Tunisia. Now, the majority of migrants are Tunisian, Pakistani, and Ivorian," he noted, adding that 2,500 Tunisians arrived in Italy this year, of whom 1,500 were "repatriated."

About the situation in Greece, the minister said that 65,000 arrivals were recorded, up 50% compared to 2018, "because migrant flows and trafficking networks are adaptable. That's why the approach can't be national; the entire European Union must cooperate," Di Maio noted.

In regards to the Balkan route, he said the Italian government was monitoring flows there through an agreement with Slovenia and with a plan that "can be strengthened" if needed.
 

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