Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Germany Protests to Italy Over Granting Refugee Status and 500 euros to Sub-Saharans Provided They Head for Hamburg

Granting refugee statuses and rights to remain to non-EU citizens by individual EU member states  but applicable across the European Union  is causing growing tensions within the Schengen area now, but will affect non-Schengen member states too.

Italy was flooded with refugees from the war in Libya, many of them sub-saharan Africans who worked in North Africa until the war.  They fled, particularly the West Africans, not back to their own countries,  but across the Mediterranean where they were landed (or were picked out of the water by the Italians) by the people traffickers,  and went into reception centres.  Many absconded (mostly the North Africans) making their way via Ventimiglia and across the French border to communities of fellow countrymen in France, and other European countries.  Some 13,000 Sub-Saharans remain in the reception centres and Germany has now officially complained that Italy is granting a three-month leave to remain in the EU and sending them on their way to Hamburg with a ticket and 500 euros.  The German Interior ministry notes that these migrants have no claim to settle in Germany, nor  access to any welfare provision or occupation.  Their countries - Nigeria, Ghana, Togo are democratic and at peace.

Well, say the Italians, you can send them back when the the 3-month leave to remain is up.  We are in the front line for receiving African migrants because we're nearest to Africa but the whole of Europe must be involved in responding to African migration.

The appointment of a minister in the Letta government whose principal aim is the immediate introduction of the right to Italian (and thus EU) citizenship conferred simply by being born in Italy compounds the complexity.  At the moment Italian migration controls are internal - without citizenship access to the social state is severely limited, even for education, health and what social housing there is; so while it's relatively easy to get into Italy it's very hard, attractive as Italy is,  to live here or even stay here on support.  Accordingly most migrants move on immediately to other states,  if they come here at all.  If the Democratic party (which has just benefitted enormously from migrants'   votes in local elections) does alter the citizenship laws  so that descent is no longer the main criterion for citizenship, the other constitutionally-imposed rights and duties of an Italian citizen will kick-in  (mostly concerned with inter-generational claims to support and residence).  Although Italy will remain a relatively unattractive stopping-place for migrants, however.  Its  Italian-by-descent citizens receive little in direct welfare payments, social housing, or payments to the unemployed in comparison with northern European EU member-states.  And it is in the deepest recession since 1945 with high and stable unemployment rates.

The migrants to Germany are clustering at Hamburg - it is the state of Hamburg which is making the immediate representations  demanding that encouraging the transfer of migrants by Italy should stop and, not least, that Italy should stop issuing right to remain permits to people from peaceful democratic countries; as well, the German Federal Government has issued a confidential circular to all German states warning  that Italy is exporting migrants who cannot qualify as refugees.

Refugee status, leave to remain, let alone citizenship of an EU member state are very valuable and, for welfare providers, very costly entities.  Perhaps they should not be left within the grasp of political parties manoeuvering for votes in single states of the EU.


We haven't done anything! -  the Italians are denying breaking any rules.  The Germans point to the website of the Italian ministry of the Interior which states that 5,700  extra-communitari  have now left the reception centres with their 500 euros,  permissions to remain in the Schengen area, and tickets (where-to not stated).  Hamburg says 300 migrants are living on the streets in Hamburg right now.


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