Italy’s European Affairs minister has travelled to Madrid to meet his Spanish opposite number in a bid to ease strained relations on immigration policy, and hold their first-ever meeting around the theme.
It comes after accusations from Spain’s deputy prime minister a few days ago that Italy’s new immigration policy is “racist and xenophobic.” This made sparks fly, and led to Theresa Fernandez de la Vega insisting her comments had been misunderstood.
But Spanish worries remain, and two points were stressed in Madrid. One, that a tough Italian law will divert migratory flows towards Spain, and two, that since all EU members are concerned, they should all contribute to policymaking before anything is agreed.
Italian Foreign Minister Roberto Maroni said:
“The criticisms levelled at us I find totally unjustified and are due to ideological prejudice or a lack of information on the matter.”
Italy is a major target for trans-Mediterranian migrant traffic, with scores or more arriving along the coast every day in the summer.
The Berlusconi government has lifted all the toughest measures from the EU ambassador’s proposals to be voted on in the EU parliament in June, so Rome argues its policy is compatible with current, or forthcoming EU practice.