Why Italy bids to become EU "ambassador" in immigration issues

13:13, May 29, 2010      

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Interior Minister Roberto Maroni on Friday launched Italy's candidature to become the European Union's (EU) "ambassador" in the fight against illegal immigration.

"In these last years we (Italy) have acquired enough experience and credibility in tackling sea migration from the African coasts to represent a model for the rest of Europe and aspire to become its ambassador," Maroni said when talking at the opening press conference of the Group of Six (G6) summit of interior ministers from Germany, Britain, Spain, France, Poland and Italy.

The gathering focuses on combating organized crime, terrorism and illicit migratory flows. Representatives from the European Union and the United States also attended the meeting.

"We have invested financial and human resources in sea patrolling and in boosting economic development of sub-Saharan Africa so as to eradicate illegal immigration at its source, in the countries of origin."

Maroni thus forwarded Italy's bid to hold the EU leadership in immigration issues recalling the many bilateral, successful agreements signed with North African countries including Libya which have contributed in curbing the arrivals of "boat people" on Italian shores.

Italy's objective at the 2-day informal G6 meeting closing on Saturday is to turn these bilateral accords into a "framework model agreement" to be adopted by other EU members.

Maroni stressed that Italy has always been a frontrunner in dealing with immigration, which however cannot be just a one- nation, solitary mission.

"So far we have tried to shield the entire Mediterranean frontier but it's a tough task that we cannot face alone. Illegal refugees are a problem concerning all European states and for this reason we must increase funds for a joint, efficient sea patrolling of the Mediterranean."

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