Italy's former Interior minister Matteo Salvini | Photo: ANSA/LUCA ZENNARO
Italy's former Interior minister Matteo Salvini | Photo: ANSA/LUCA ZENNARO

Italy's government coalition continues to be divided on changes to ex-interior minister Matteo Salvini's migrants-security decrees. Salvini's former government coalition partner, the Five-Star Movement (M5S), wants to postpone the issue to September while its current ruling partner, the Democratic Party (PD), is asking to speed up a reform.

Italy's government coalition has yet to find an agreement on changes to Matteo Salvini's migrant security decrees. Salvini drafted the decrees when he was interior minister and deputy premier.

Salvini's former government coalition partner, the 5-Star Movement (M5S), wants to postpone the issue to September while its current ruling partner, the Democratic Party (PD), would like to reform the legislation sooner.

During a cabinet meeting on June 22, the anti-establishment M5S asked to start talks in September on changes to the decrees.

The M5S's ruling partners -- the progressive PD, left-wing Leu and Italia Viva (IV) party of ex-premier Matteo Renzi -- are instead pushing to reform the controversial legislation as soon as possible. 

A new meeting has been scheduled on June 30 to try to find an agreement. 

Signs of a possible agreement 

Last week Thursday, the M5S sent to a meeting Giuseppe Brescia and Vittoria Baldino, two of its lawmakers favoring a compromise, instead of leader Vittorio Crimi, a hardliner on immigration. This is why the meeting was seen as a sign of possible détente.

The discussion, which lasted for about two hours, focused on a draft reform ''of mediation''. The proposed reform includes key changes to Salvini's legislation: 

  • it scraps fines to NGO-run migrant-rescue ships, with the obligation to coordinate with their flag State
  • it increases the number of special permits -- without reintroducing the humanitarian protection eliminated by Salvini-- for those with serious psychiatric conditions, diseases or those who risk ''inhumane and degrading treatment'' in their country
  • the maximum period of detention in CPR centers, where migrants are detained while they await repatriation, is halved from 180 to 90 days
  • municipalities can register asylum seekers 
  • the SIPROIMI system of protection for those with international protection status and unaccompanied foreign minors is extended to vulnerable people like for example parents with underage children.

Proposals to amend the text were illustrated by members of the ruling coalition: 

  • Matteo Mauri and Carmelo Miceli for the PD asked to return to the SPRAR (System of protection for asylum-seekers and refugees) system which was dismantled by Salvini and renamed SIPROIMI and to promote working permits.

  • Loredana De Petris and Federico Fornaro of the Leu party asked for a reform of the system regulating migrant-rescue missions at sea, in order to end the criminalization of NGOs. 

  • Davide Faraone of Italia Viva presented a 15-point proposal with changes including the introduction of 'ius culturae', granting citizenship when immigrant children have completed five years of schooling in Italy.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese has asked her legislative office to draft a new reform proposal to be presented on June 30.

The request to postpone talks to September 

The M5S appeared to have softened its stance on a reform, defining as a ''starting point'' issues raised by President Sergio Mattarella. 

When Mattarella signed the second Salvini security law last August, he observed that the obligation for sailors to rescue people in danger at sea remained. He also pointed out, citing a ruling by the Constitutional Court, that a fine that is potentially very high for ship commanders is comparable to a criminal penalty.

The M5S party however also said changes needed to be ''limited'' and "without propaganda and with concrete objectives: protection for those who really need it and a serious fight against human traffickers."

They also proposed to resume talks in September given that there are "already several decrees'' being converted into law and that ''others have been announced." 

Mauri however urged to reach an agreement as soon as possible. ''We are close to cancelling one of the saddest pages for our country and for this we ask all forces in the majority to move forward without uncertainty'', he said.


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