Tag Archives: Franco Frattini

Statewatch Analysis: The EU’s self-interested response to unrest in north Africa: the meaning of treaties and readmission agreements between Italy and north African states

Statewatch released an Analysis by Yasha Maccanico entitled “The EU’s self-interested response to unrest in north Africa: the meaning of treaties and readmission agreements between Italy and north African states.”  The Analysis provides a description of Italy’s responses to the migrant arrivals in 2011 caused by the unrest in North Africa.

Excerpts:  “The ‘crisis’ reveals questionable practices and routine abuses – The measures adopted in response to the increasing number of migrants arriving from north African countries serve to highlight a number of practices that have become commonplace in Italy in recent years.

The first of these is a widening of the concept of ‘emergency.’ Calling an emergency gives the government a wider remit to derogate from specified laws so as to resolve situations that cannot be dealt with through ordinary measures….

Although the situation in north Africa was worrying, the emergency was called when slightly over 5,000 migrants had arrived. An analysis by Massimiliano Vrenna and Francesca Biondi Dal Monte for ASGI notes that the government has repeatedly called and extended states of emergency since 2002 to deal with immigration, which is treated as though it were a “natural calamity” even when there is a wholly predictable influx of people from third countries. The urgent need specified in decrees declaring a state of emergency is to conduct ‘activities to counter the exceptional – later referred to as massive – influx of immigrants on Italian territory’ (as happened on 11 December 2002, 7 November 2003, 23 December 2004, 28 October 2005, 16 March 2007, 31 December 2007, 14 February 2008 for Sicily, Calabria and Apulia and was extended to the whole nation on 25 July 2008 and 19 November 2009), stemming from a prime ministerial decree of 20 March 2002. Thus, Vrenna and Biondi Dal Monte’s observation that the emergency is ‘structural’ appears well-founded. It has serious repercussions for the treatment of migrants (see below) and the awarding of contracts outside of normal procedures, with the involvement of the civil protection department whose competencies have been expanding considerably.

The second practice involves the expulsion, refoulement or deportation of migrants outside the limits and procedures established by legislation for this purpose. The failure to identify people, to issue formal decisions on an individual basis to refuse them entry or expel them, or to give them the opportunity to apply for asylum or other forms of protection, was a key concern when boats were intercepted at sea and either the vessels or their passengers were taken back to Libya between May and September 2009, when 1,329 people were returned. These rights were also denied to people arriving from Egypt and Tunisia in application of readmission agreements in the framework of the fight against illegal migration. Their presumed nationality was deemed sufficient to enact expulsions to these countries, because ongoing cooperation and good relations with Italy appeared sufficient to indicate that they were not in need of protection, regardless of the situation in their home countries. ….

The third practice is the ill-treatment of migrants held in detention centres. Without dealing with this issue in depth, it is worth noting that what could be viewed as arbitrary detention is occurring on a large scale, in the absence of formal measures decreeing detention and without the possibility of appealing against decisions. In fact, after landing, migrants are summarily identified as either ‘illegal’ migrants or asylum seekers, largely on the basis of their nationality….”

Click here for Analysis.

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Italy and Libyan NTC Take Further Steps to Reactivate Italian-Libyan Friendship Agreement

Italian Foreign Minster Franco Frattini traveled to Tripoli on 30 September for meetings with the NTC President Mustafa Abdel Jalil and Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril.  Frattini and Jibril met one week earlier on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Meeting.  Italy and the NTC signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint coordination committee whose function will be to prepare for the reactivation of Italy-Libya Friendship Agreement as soon as a new Libyan government assumes office.

Click here and here for articles. (IT)

Click here for statement from Italian Foreign Ministry. (IT)

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Italy Hopes to Revive Libyan Friendship Treaty, Including Migration Control Provisions

Italian officials, including Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa, said yesterday that the Italian-Libyan friendship treaty signed in 2008 by Prime Minister Berlusconi and Gaddafi should be revived once a new government takes power in Libya.  The head of the Libyan National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, has previously said that the provisions of the treaty, including the migration control provisions, would be respected by the new Libyan government.  Italian Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Alfredo Mantica, is quoted by ANSA as saying that “the first duty of Italy will be to update the part [of the treaty] relating to migration” as soon as the situation in Libya has stabilized. [“Mantica ha spiegato che ‘il primo dovere dell’Italia sarà quello di aggiornare la parte che riguarda i flussi migratori’ del Trattato di amicizia italo-libico, non appena la situazione in Libia si sarà stabilizzata.”]

Click here and here for articles. (IT)

Click here and here for previous posts about Libyan NTC’s statements regarding the treaty.


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Memorandum of Understanding Between Italy and Libyan NTC

The MOU between Italy and the Libyan National Transitional Council signed last Friday, 17 June, is a short 1 ½ page memorandum that makes reference to four previous agreements signed by the Libyan and Italian governments.

Thank you to ASGI – Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione for bringing this document to my attention.  See ASGI’s press release where it sets forth its doubt about the legality of this new agreement with the NTC.

Excerpts from the MOU (using Google translate):


[The Italian Government and the NTC] [c]onfirm their commitment to a shared management of migration, primarily through the application of the Italian-Libyan cooperation in combating terrorism, organized crime, trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and illegal immigration , signed in Rome 13 December 2000 and subsequent Protocols of cooperation on migration of December 29, 2007, with its Additional Act of February 4, 2009, – and 7 December 2010.

In this context, the Parties will exchange information on the flows of illegal immigrants on criminal organizations that promote them, on modus operandi and the routes taken and the organizations specialized in forging documents and passports, as well as mutual assistance and cooperation in the fight against illegal migration, including repatriation of illegal immigrants.

To this end, agree to perform, as soon as there are conditions, regular consultations between the respective competent bodies, according to art. 5 of the said Agreement.”


Confermano l’impegno ad una gestione condivisa del fenomeno migratorio, in primo luogo attraverso l’applicazione dell’Accordo italo-libico per la collaborazione nella lotta al terrorismo, alla criminalità organizzata, al traffico di stupefacenti e di sostanze psicotrope ed all’immigrazione clandestina, firmato a Roma il 13 dicembre 2000 e dei successivi Protocolli di collaborazione in materia migratoria del 29 dicembre 2007, con relativo Atto aggiuntivo del 04 febbraio 2009,- e del 7 dicembre 2010.

In tale ambito, le Parti procederanno allo scambio di informazioni sui flussi di immigrazione illegale, sulle organizzazioni criminali che li favoriscono, sui modus operandi e sugli itinerari seguiti e sulle organizzazioni specializzate nella falsificazione di documenti e di passaporti, nonché alla reciproca assistenza e cooperazione nella lotta all’immigrazione illegale, incluso il rimpatrio di immigrati in posizione irregolare.

A tal fine convengono di effettuare, non appena ve ne saranno le condizioni, regolari consultazioni tra i competenti rispettivi organismi, come previsto dall’art. 5 del suddetto Accordo.”

Click here for MOU. (IT)

Click here for ASGI Press Release. (IT)

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Italy and Libyan National Transitional Council Sign Migration Agreement

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and Mahmud Jabril, the head of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC), signed a migration agreement today in Naples.  The agreement provides for “mutual assistance and cooperation in combating illegal migration, including repatriation of illegal immigrants.” Frattini is quoted by media reports that Italy “is ready to help the NTC in terms of equipment and facilities, as we did with Tunisia, providing the tools to patrol and prevent the illegal trips.” Jabril said that with the agreement “we reaffirm the commitment of the NTC to respect previous agreements by Libya” with Italy and that “illegal immigration in our opinion will shape relations between Europe and Africa for the next 25 years.”

Click here, here, here, and here for articles.  (IT)

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UNHCR Denies Any Involvement with Italy-Libyan National Transitional Council Migrant Agreement

UNHCR spokesperson Laura Boldrini has said that the UNHCR was surprised at Foreign Minister Frattini’s claim that UNHCR was somehow involved in any new migration agreement between Italy and the Libyan National Transitional Council.  According to TM News Boldrini said  “there is no involvement of any kind relating to these operations and [UNHCR] reiterates its opposition to any action of expulsion at sea of ​​migrants heading for the Italian coast.”

Click here (IT) for article.

[UPDATE:   Click here and here for articles where Frattini clarifies he did not intend to suggest that UNHCR would be involved in the new agreement.   The agreement in question is being referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in the Fight Against Illegal Immigration, Terrorism, Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking.  (Un Memorandum d’ Intesa per la collaborazione nella lotta all’ immigrazione clandestina, al terrorismo, alla criminalità organizzata ed al traffico di stupefacenti.)


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Frattini Says Migrant Repatriation Agreement to be Signed Tomorrow with Libyan National Transitional Council

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said earlier today that an agreement would be signed tomorrow between the Italian government and the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC).  While no specific details of the agreement are being reported yet, the agreement will supposedly commit the NTC to taking steps to prevent the departure of migrants and also includes a repatriation agreement.  Frattini also said that the UNHCR will be a party to the agreement.  Frattini is quoted as saying that “unlike what happened with Gaddafi this agreement sees the UNHCR fully involved.”

Click here (IT), here (FR), here (IT), here (IT), and here (IT) for articles.

[Update: UNHCR has expressed suprise at Frattini’s statement and said that it has no invovlement with this new agreement.]

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Frattini Says He Expects Libyan Rebels Will Soon Take Steps to Stop Migrant Departures

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said during a TV interview earlier today that “the [Libyan] rebels have said they will keep the international commitments of the Libyan state” relating to illegal immigration (”I ribelli hanno detto che manterranno gli impegni internazionali dello stato libico…”) and that he expects an “important political signal [from the rebels] in the coming days.”  (“Mi aspetto da parte loro un segnale politico importante gia’ nei prossimi giorni”.)

Libyan rebel leader, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, has previously said that a post-Gaddafi Libyan Government would respect “all agreements with Italy by the [Gaddafi] regime, including those involving combating illegal migration and oil contracts with Eni.” Specifically, Jalil has said that the rebels would “respect the Italian-Libyan Treaty signed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. … Any treaty or agreement [which was done] we respect it” and “we will try to implement the treaties.”

Click here, here, or here for article. (IT)

Click here for previous post on Jalil’s statement.


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French PM Fillon: Frontex Should Intercept and Return Migrants Directly to Tunisia

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, after meeting yesterday with  EC President Jose Manuel Barroso, said that it does not make sense to intercept Tunisian migrants at sea and then bring them to Lampedusa; it would make better sense if the Frontex mission based in Italy intercepted Tunisian migrant boats at sea and returned them directly to Tunisia.

Fillon said: “There is no rule that provides for the reception and free movement on European territory of illegal economic migrants. A large portion of the Tunisian migrants who have arrived in Italy, are not destined, as some suggest, to be resettled in different European countries, they are destined to return to their country.” («Il n’y a aucune règle qui prévoit l’accueil sur le territoire européen et la libre circulation des immigrants économiques clandestins. Une grande partie des ressortissants tunisiens qui sont arrivés en Italie, n’ont pas vocation, comme certains le proposent, à être répartis dans les différents pays européens, ils ont vocation à retourner dans leur pays.»)  Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini praised Fillon’s proposal.

Click here (FR), here (IT), and here (IT) for articles.

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Tunisia Denies Reaching Migration Agreement with Italy; Berlusconi Travels Today to Tunis for Talks

Responding to statements made by Italian Ministers Maroni and Frattini that Tunisia was not complying with recent migration agreements reached during their 25 March visit to Tunis, a Tunisian Foreign Ministry source said on Saturday that no such agreement was finalised or signed.

A statement summarising the 25 March meeting between Italy and Tunisia, previously posted on the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site, said in relevant part that “bilateral and regional cooperation has also been discussed during this meeting, particularly regarding the management of migration flows and within the framework of a comprehensive and integrated approach.  As such, both sides agreed to conclude in the near future an agreement on joint management of migration and development in solidarity like agreements signed with other partner countries.” (“La coopération bilatérale et régionale a été, également, évoquée au cours de cette réunion, notamment, en ce qui concerne la gestion des flux migratoires et ce dans le cadre d’une approche globale et intégrée.  A ce titre, les deux parties ont convenu de conclure dans un proche avenir un accord relatif à la gestion concertée de la migration et au développement solidaire à l’instar des accords signés avec d’autres pays partenaires.”

Click here (EN), here (FR), and here (IT) for articles.

Click here (FR) for Tunisian FM statement re 25 March meeting.

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France Restores Border Controls at Italy-France Border to Block Entry by Tunisians

Growing numbers of Tunisians are arriving in the Italian border town of Ventimiglia (Vintimille), on the border with France, and are attempting to enter France.  3500 Tunisians have reportedly arrived in recent weeks.  Most of the newly arriving Tunisians appear to have passed through Lampedusa in recent weeks and were then relocated elsewhere in Italy to relieve the overcrowding on the island.  Many of the Tunisians arriving in Lampedusa have been very clear about their desire to continue on to France due to family or linguistic ties.

France has reinstituted some border controls in the area in an effort to block the entry of the Tunisians.  Additional controls are being instituted within French territory in Menton and Nice.  La Stampa reports that “[p]eople smugglers, who had largely disappeared when border checkpoints [in the Schengen area] were closed down, are now increasingly common. [Smugglers] seek out the migrants at the station [in Ventimiglia] and offer to take them to France…”  Le Point suggests that “by discretely allowing illegal immigrants to arrive in Ventimiglia, Italy is hoping that Europe will wake up and share the burden.  Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Wednesday criticised France for returning Tunisians to Italy after crossing the border, accusing France of a lack of solidarity.

Click here (EN), here (FR), and here (FR) for articles.


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Frattini Criticises EU for Failure to Assist Italy; Frattini and MEPs Call for Implementation of Temporary Protection Directive and Mandatory Burden Sharing

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has again criticised what he describes as the EU’s and European Commission’s failure to assist Italy with the migrant situation in Lampedusa. Minister Frattini singled out Commissioner Malmström for his criticism.  A statement on the Italian Foreign Ministry web site says that “Italy continues to solicit Europe’s help in confronting the immigration emergency, not only in terms of economic aid but also in terms of a plan for the distribution of the refugees among Member States. ‘Europe has been totally inert in this period’, Minister Frattini asserted and, commenting on EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström[‘s] observation that Italy had already received European funding for managing the influx, specified: ‘This is the typical expression of a European bureaucracy that thinks money alone solves everything’, but it is not enough, ‘there need to be policy interventions’. …[I]n addition to funds it is necessary to ‘invoke a European law clearly establishing the adoption of an extraordinary plan with any sudden influx of refugees toward one or more Member States, which includes the distribution of the refugees among Members within the temporary timeframe necessary to repatriate those who are not refugees, as in the case of the Tunisians, who are simply economic immigrants’.”

MEPs Simon Busuttil (Malta) and Salvatore Iacolino (IT) issued a press release calling on the Commission “to activate the Solidarity Mechanism envisaged in EU law in cases of mass influx of displaced persons. … ‘EU law already provides for a solidarity mechanism that can be triggered in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons (Council Directive 2001-55-EC)’ [and ‘we call upon the Commission to activate it’] Busuttil and Iacolino said.”

Click here for Italian Foreign Ministry statement.

Click here for MEPs Busuttil and Iacolino press release.

Click here for link to Temporary Protection Directive.

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Italy Issues Warning: If Tunisia Fails to Stop Migrants, Italy Will Begin Forced Repatriations

Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said on Monday that “[i]f [the Tunisian Government] do[es] not send specific signals [and begin] keeping the promise of a commitment to stop the migration, Italy will proceed with the forced repatriations.” (“Se non manderà segnali concreti, mantenendo la promessa di un impegno per fermare i flussi migratori, l’Italia procederà con i rimpatri forzosi.”)  Maroni also said “Tunisia had promised an immediate commitment to stop migration, but the boats continue to arrive.  We are not subject to blackmail as with Libya for oil. [Tunisia is] dependent on us, especially in the tourism sector.”

Foreign Minister Frattini said that if Tunisian migrants do not agree to assisted returns to Tunisia, with the possible payment of €1500 using EU funds, “there is a second level of intervention for those who do not accept assisted repatriation, which is stated in the Bossi-Fini law: expulsion.”

Click here, here, here and here for articles. (IT)

Click here (EN), here (IT), and here (IT) for postings on the Foreign Ministry web site.

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Italy Considers Offering €1500 to Tunisian Migrants Who Agree to Leave

The Italian government has tentatively considered the possibility of offering €1500 to any Tunisian who agrees to return to Tunisia.  Foreign Minister Frattini said that Italy could pay the funds to those migrants willing to leave and that the funds would then be reimbursed to Italy by the EU Commission.  The IOM would likely be asked to administer the program.  The proposal was immediately and strongly criticised by Umberto Bossi the head of the Northern League and a fellow minister in the Berlusconi Government.  Bossi called for the migrants to be returned to Tunisia.  A statement posted later in the day on the Foreign Ministry web site said that the proposal would “be activated only in the presence of a full financing on the part of the European Union.”

The situation on Lampedusa continues to deteriorate.  There were approximately 1000 new migrant arrivals yesterday.  The migrant population on the island is approximately 5000 with 2500 people sleeping rough in makeshift tents made of plastic sheeting.

Click here and here for articles.  (IT)

Click here for brief statement from Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Italian Ministers Frattini and Maroni in Tunis for Migration Negotiations

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and Interior Minister Roberto Maroni are in Tunis today for negotiations with Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi and others in an effort to seek Tunisian cooperation to prevent migrant departures from Tunisia.  According to a statement on the Italian Foreign Ministry web site, Italy is calling for “the resumption of cooperation to combat illegal immigration” and for “immediate and adequate coastal monitoring as well as cooperation in identifying and readmitting irregular migrants.”  According to ANSA, Italy is ready to offer economic aid, personnel and equipment (vessels, equipment, radar, etc.).”

Click here (IT) for article and here and here for statements on the Italian Foreign Ministry web site (IT).

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