When talking about migration, Europe usually has the feeling to be invaded, developing fears, ignorance and obstacles for the migrant people to get included in the hosting countries.
But what are the real facts?
Let's have a look at some data about migration (2017)
in Guadeloupe (France), Spain, Sweden, Tuscany and Sicily (Italy).
(Click on the images to enlarge)
*Updated context (Sweden - Mai 2019)
In May 2019 the Swedish government proposed to prolong the temporary law with two more years, meaning it would last until 19 July 2019. Some small changes will be made, but the reason with this strict law is still to limit the possibility to get asylum and residency in Sweden.
In July 2018 Sweden implemented a new law which made it possible for young migrants to apply for a residency in Sweden if they are part of the school system. This means that some migrants that were otherwise supposed to leave Sweden can stay in the country temporary.
*Updated context (Spain - Mai 2019)
The loss of human lives related to the migratory movements in the world has not stopped increasing in recent years. According to the latest data registered in 2016, more than 7495 people have lost their lives at sea. 5079 of them in the Mediterranean Sea. All this is a sign that the measures implemented to date have not worked. The implementation of legal and safe means of arrival for migrants and refugees and the reinforcement of rescue operations are essential to prevent thousands of people from losing their lives at sea. The difficulties experienced by refugees and migrants along their journeys are combined: violence in countries of transit and at the external borders of the European Union, exploitation, illegal returns, criminalization, restrictive asylum policies. These are the main routes of access to Europe: Western Africa Route; Western Mediterranean Route; Central Mediterranean Route: the most dangerous; Route of Apulia and Calabria (Italy); Eastern Mediterranean Route; Western Route of the Balkans; Route of the Eastern borders; Circular route from Albania to Greece.
Spain wanted to teach the world a lesson by welcoming the ship Aquarius in June 2018 when all the doors of the Mediterranean were closed to the ship loaded with migrants. But the lack of a European scheme and the record of arrivals to the Spanish coasts have changed that initial opening. The Spanish authorities are now denying permits for the sailing of the ships dedicated to the rescue of migrants and intensifying the pressure on Brussels. The objective is clear: to avoid these arrivals at a time when migration has become an arena of electoral confrontation.
The fear of getting caught up in policies that right-wing parties have begun to use as a weapon against the government also translates into small gestures. Salvamento Marítimo, which dedicates a part of its efforts every day to help the boats that cross the Mediterranean, has stopped reporting the rescues on their Twitter account.
With the central route of the central Mediterranean relatively blocked, Spain tries desperately to limit the arrivals from Morocco. The figures do not remit. In the first half of January, more than 3,000 people arrived to Spain, practically three times more than in the same period of 2018, according to official Spanish data.
*Updated context (Italy - Mai 2019)
After the significant growth in migration to Europe in 2014-2017, many Western European countries have started a process of restriction of the rights they grant to asylum seekers. This is what happened in Italy, particularly after the - so called - yellow-green government settlement (31 of May 2018).
Even if the number of arrivals to Italy is at the lowest level registered in the past few years, the phenomenon of migration has reached the dimension of an emergency in the internal public debate.
The government lowered the level of protection for asylum seekers, but at the same time it was unable to increase the - boasted - repatriations of migrants to their countries of origin: obtaining an increase in undocumented migrants stuck in the country.
Between June 2018 and December 2020, the number of irregulars in Italy will increased by, at least, 140,000. Part of this increase - about 25,000 - has already happened over the past months (end of 2018).
In early October, the Italian government introduced a decree-law (Decreto-Legge n. 113, 4 October 2018) that was converted into law in early December (Legge n. 132, 1 December 2018). Among other things, the Law n. 132 change the system of “layers of protection” for asylum seekers in Italy.
Before the approval of this Law, the Italian system was based on three layers of protection:
Refugee status. Resulting directly from the 1951 Geneva Convention, the status is assigned to those who have a well-founded fear of being personally persecuted “for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion (Art. 1) and for reasons of gender and sexual orientation (added by EU Directives).
Subsidiary protection. Resulting from EU legislation: it applies to people who, while not qualifying as refugees, “would face a real risk of suffering serious harm” if they returned to their country of origin (risk of death penalty or execution, of torture or inhumane treatment, of threat of life by reasons of indiscriminate violence during an armed conflict).
Humanitarian protection. This is the third layer of protection, legislated at national level, several EU countries have alternative forms of protection after refugee and subsidiary protection. In Italy, “humanitarian protection” is used as a residual category, and this protection was attributed for different reasons: from health issues to severe economic conditions in the applicant’s country of origin. The maximum length of the residence permit tied to humanitarian protection is two years.
The current Italian government has decided to abolish humanitarian protection. The rationale behind this change is that, the government believes, the humanitarian protection layer was too benevolent. In its place, the government introduced six “special cases”: heroic acts, special protection (no refoulement), victim of labour exploitation, natural disaster in home country, very serious health conditions, domestic violence.
This special case will be applicable to a small minority of those who were granted with the humanitarian protection beforehand.
The immediate effects of this change are:
a. Asylum seekers whose request is still pending will no more be able to receive a humanitarian protection, and will be at a higher risk of having their application denied, thus becoming irregulars;
b. Current beneficiaries of humanitarian protection will not be able to renew their protection, thus becoming irregulars.
c. Making returns more effective. The second part of the first Chapter of the Decree-Law focuses on improving returns and facilitating the return of third-country nationals in an irregular situation. In order to achieve these objectives, the Law extends the maximum duration of the foreigner’s detention in return centres from 90 to 180 days. In addition, it modifies the previous Decree Implementing the Reception Conditions Directive and the Procedures Directive (Decree-Law 18 August 2015, n. 142), by expanding grounds for detention in hotspots.
The new Decree reduces not only the scope of protection and the number of potential beneficiaries, but also the duration of the stay for those falling into the ‘special’ categories. The ‘humanitarian’ status were provided with a two-year renewable residence permit, the permits issued in the new ‘special cases’ allow residence in Italy for six months for exceptional natural disasters or violence and one year in the other for ‘special protection’, ‘medical reasons’ and other ‘special cases’. Such permits are renewable and allow the holder to work but – differently from the humanitarian residence permit – they cannot be converted into a work permit when the circumstances for which they were issued cease to exist.
Only in the event that the foreigner has accomplished exceptional civil acts, whose nature is not further specified, the person – at the discretion the Minister of the Interior, can be issued a residence permit lasting two years.
Sources / to go further