A draft bill was approved by the Italian government last week to increase spending on migrants in 2018 - even though the number of sea arrivals has come down.
Spending on migrants in Italy will rise from 4.3 billion euros in 2017 to up to 5 billion euros in 2018, according to the draft Economic and Financial Document (DEF), Italy's multi-year plan for public finances and economic strategies.
The increase is based on the assumption that measures introduced last year to reduce the number of sea arrivals from Libya will continue to be effective: "The reduction in sea arrivals is not reflected in a proportionate reduction in the number of migrants staying" in reception centers, the document states.
At the start of April 2018, there still were approximately 174,000 migrants in Italy - a higher number than expected. The document said that part of the reason for this was the limited success of the EU relocation program, which expired last year.
Staying the course
The planned expenditure amounts to 0.26 - 0.28 percent of Italy's GDP, which Italy is willing to continue spending pending the introduction of a common European policy, according to the DEF document. For last year, the overall spending on "rescue, medical assistance, assistance and education" is estimated to have come to less than 0.25 percent of Italy's GDP - not taking any EU contributions into account.
In total, 9,070 migrants arrived in Italy by sea between January and April 2018, with more than two thirds coming from Libya, according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior. These numbers mark a 75.41 percent drop over the same period in 2017 (36,884 arrivals) and a 66.48 percent drop over 2016 (27,058 arrivals).
This year the ports most used in migrant landings were Messina, Pozzallo, Catania, Augusta and Trapani.