A better life? Italy threatens to give EU visas to 200,000 migrants

by WorldTribune Staff, July 16, 2017

Italian officials have threatened to issue temporary EU visas to 200,000 migrants.

Italy has been struggling to cope with a huge increase in people fleeing north Africa and has become frustrated with what it says is the lack of help from its EU neighbors. More than 86,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy this year.

Some 86,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from north Africa to Italy this year. / AP

France and Austria have used dogs and the threat of armored vehicles to push back migrants who try to enter their countries after leaving Italy.

Mattia Toaldo, a senior analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told The Times:

“If migrants continue to arrive and Italy decides to give them papers to cross borders and leave Italy it would be a nuclear option. Italians have lost any hope of getting help from the EU and may say, ‘If you won’t make it a common challenge, we will.’ ”

Mario Giro, the deputy foreign minister, and Luigi Manconi, a senator with Italy’s ruling Democratic Party, told The Times that the government is considering issuing migrants temporary visas.

Giro believes that Italy can exploit European Council Directive 2001/55, developed after the Balkans conflict to give temporary European entry permits to a large number of displaced people.

Analysts said the Schengen protocol, which allows all EU citizens to travel freely across the continent, may be in jeopardy if Italy follows through on its threat.

Albero Panfilio, mayor of the Italian city of Cona, told AFP that the camps where migrants are placed are akin to “a human warehouse. The migrants arrive, they don’t know where to put them, they have a warehouse, they dump them here.” The asylum seekers were “treated like garbage,” he added.

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