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  • on 05.11.2015
  • at 04:35 PM
  • by Kimberley Evans

What is Italy’s position going to be at the EU-Africa Valletta summit? 0

Following the Afronline.org report on the tensions surrounding the EU-Africa summit on migration planned for 11th and 12th November in Valletta (Malta), Italian deputies are asking the Foreign Affairs Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, for clarity, in order to understand the position Italy will be taking at the summit.

Brussels/Milan – Led by Lia Quartapelle, deputy of the Democratic Party (Prime Minister Renzi’s party) and secretary of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, 30 parliamentarians belonging to the majority government have registered an urgent parliamentary question submitted to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, headed by Paolo Gentiloni, to understand the position Italy will be taking at the EU-Africa summit happening in Malta on November 11th and 12th.  Malta will host the Heads of state of 28 EU Member states, 35 African countries, and representatives from the African Union, ECOWAS and the United Nations.

The parliamentary question, which will be discussed tomorrow  in the Chamber of Deputies, has been posed following the investigative report published by Afronline.org on the numerous tensions surrounding the Valletta summit. In its report, Afronline.org leaked the draft agreement between the EU and its African partners, which lays out an action plan with five key aims: fighting against migrant smuggling and human trafficking; improving cooperation with regards to return arrangements and readmission of the irregular migrants in their African countries of origin; promoting legal channels for migration and mobility, and protecting migrants and asylum seekers. Last but not least, a top priority remains addressing the root causes of irregular migration, by supporting any initiative in favour of peace, stability and sustainable development on the African continent. Asides from the official position, official sources contacted by Afronline.org in Brussels and Africa expressed doubts surrounding the dialogue taking place between the European and African partners on the eve of the summit. A high-ranking African Union figure who closely follows the dossier said that “there is no dialogue. What we are seeing from the EU is a monologue that seeks only to impose its own agenda”.

A parliamentary question is a written request that one or more parliamentarians direct to the government, to clarify the reasons or intentions behind government politics on relevant issues. With regards to the Valletta summit, the 30 parliamentarians are calling out Gentiloni on the “growing dissatisfaction of the African Union with regards to the current agreements being reached; in particular, it would seem that some European member states want to place conditions on development aid directly related to the efforts made by African governments to welcome illegal migrants returned from the EU into their country of origin, in following with the “more for more, less for less” logic. In this case, it means more efforts made on repatriations, and less aid if these efforts are not carried out.”

 “In addition to actions aimed at limiting irregular migration from Africa to Europe and the relocation of migrants with refugee status between the different countries of the European Union, we need to start to work in a systematic way to create a policy that is aimed at the structural improvement of living conditions in the countries from which these migration flows originate”, state the signing deputies. The Summit of Valletta will be an important opportunity to “implement the commitment made by the government to develop and implement a strategy  that is specifically aimed at the development and co-development of African countries, to be shared with the EU and its European partners, as well as also seeking to reduce the structural impact of migration flows from Africa to Europe.

In Malta, the EU will present to the African partners the “Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing the root causes of irregular migration in Africa”. Countries like Spain have already committed to support this fund, however little or nothing is known of the intentions of the Italian government with respect to this instrument whose implementation and objectives raise many concerns amongst NGOs. Reminding us of this is the parliamentary question submitted by Quartapelle, which highlights that “there are those who fear that it will not be used effectively for development projects, but rather for border security and the containment of people’s’ mobility.”

For all these reasons, the 30 deputies leading the parliamentary question ask Gentiloni “what is Italy’s position going to be at the Valletta summit, with regards to the current trend of international aid conditionalities, channeled through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, as well as on the notion of a tighter collaboration of partner countries on repatriation (“more for more, less for less” approach), how much will the Italian contribution to the Trust Fund for Africa be, and will it be an additional fund over and above official development assistance?”

Editor’s note: according to the European Commission, on 4 November 2015 Italy was the second EU donor of the Trust Fund for Africa with 10 million euros. 

by Joshua Massarenti

Translated by Kimberley Evans

Photo credits Andreas Solaro/Getty Images

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