Meloni’s Migration Pact with Albania

Scritto da in data Giugno 26, 2024

By ToniAnn Izzo

Leggi in Italiano

On Wednesday, June 5, 2024, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to thank him for Albania’s cooperation in Italy’s new approach to managing migration.

This fairly new deal, agreed upon not too long ago on November 6, 2023, involves many controversial elements that have gained attention across Europe.

The Migration Deal Details

The core of the agreement allows Italy to establish and operate migration centers within Albania. These centers will be under Italian jurisdiction, with Italian laws applying inside the fences and Italian authorities managing the operations.

This means Albania has ceded a portion of its territory to Italy, creating a unique situation where technically Italian sovereignty exists within Albanian borders.

Italy has committed to welcoming migrants granted international protection and organizing the deportation of those who do not qualify.

However, the list of countries Italy deems safe continues to expand, complicating the process for asylum seekers. According to the agreement, only men will be sent to the Albanian facilities, with vulnerable groups such as minors, women, and the elderly excluded.

Broader Context of the Migration Crisis

Europe has been struggling with the migration crisis for years, with Italy being one of the main entry points for migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

The pressure on Italy’s resources has led to this new strategy to manage the influx more effectively.

Last year alone, the number of boats arriving in Italy had doubled, and the number of migrants seeking asylum had also doubled.

This new trial run with Albania is a show of desperate measures from Italy. Meloni hopes this plan will mainly be a means of deterrence and scare people from trying to enter the country illegally.

Historical Context and Motivation

Prime Minister Rama supports this agreement mainly because of a historical sense of debt to Italy. During the 1990s, Albania underwent significant political and economic turmoil, leading to mass emigration.

Thousands of Albanians fled to Italy in search of safety and better opportunities.

Italy provided refuge and support during this period of crisis, and Rama feels that Albania now owes Italy for its hospitality and assistance.

While that is his stated intention, some wonder whether his motives are driven by a desire to repay debts or to align with the EU, as Albania aims for EU accession.

If this plan that Meloni has cooked up sounds familiar, well that is because it is. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has a similar plan that he has been working on with Rwanda as a new destination for the migrants that wind up there.

16/12/2023. Rome, Italy. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama for a meeting at the Palazzo Chigi. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street.

Legal and Ethical Implications

This arrangement raises many legal and ethical questions. Applying Italian law on Albanian soil and the presence of Italian police officers have led to debates over jurisdiction and territorial rights.

Human rights organizations have expressed concerns about the treatment of migrants and potential violations of international law, especially given Albania’s non-membership in the European Union (EU).

One ethical concern is how Italy will guarantee a fair asylum procedure and judicial review of detention in another state.

Implementation and Delays

The plan, initially set to begin this month, has faced delays. Construction of the necessary facilities is behind schedule, pushing the start date to August 1, 2024.

Despite these delays, the agreement has already influenced broader EU migration policy discussions. Just a month ago, 15 EU countries wrote to the EU commission asking them to find ways to transfer migrants to non-EU countries, citing the Italy-Albania deal as a precedent.

It is bizarre that many countries are endorsing this plan without evidence of its effectiveness. It would seem their priority is to remove migrants from not just their own countries, but the entire EU, washing their hands of the issue.

How can these nations commit to a strategy whose outcomes remain unknown, when the migration pact is yet to begin?

Financial Considerations

The Italian government estimates the five-year deal will cost €670 million, roughly equivalent to the expenses Italy would have paid managing the migrants domestically.

However, others argue the cost will be higher, potentially reaching €850 million due to rising construction expenses and overall inflation. 

The Italy-Albania migration deal will show a significant shift in how European countries manage migration within the EU and non-EU states.

The lines between sovereignty, borders and territory are becoming blurred. Human rights, and international cooperation are at the forefront of the concerns as these outcomes will be vital in shaping future EU policies and in this case, Italy-Albania relations.

ToniAnn Izzo

I am a political science enthusiast from New York City with a passion for global politics.

I aim to spark interest in young people, who are the most impacted by today’s political decisions by  making complex issues understandable and engaging.

I bring a fresh perspective to political discussions to make politics fun and accessible for the next generation.

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