Thursday, November 8, 2007

Italy and Romania urge EU help with migrants

EU Observer
08.11.2007 - 09:21 CET | By Lucia Kubosova

The prime ministers of Italy and Romania have urged the European Commission to help EU countries cope with the integration of other member states' citizens - in particular of Roma origin.

In a joint letter to the commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, the centre-left Italian leader Romano Prodi and Romanian liberal leader Calin Popescu-Tariceanu suggested Brussels should do more to deal with EU migration.

"The destination member states don't have on their own the means to confront the difficulties that face them," the two leaders wrote on Wednesday (7 October), according to AP agency.

They called on the EU executive to develop a "European strategy of inclusion for the Roma" and other disadvantaged people, as well as clearer rules on deporting EU citizens who do not fulfil the conditions for living in other member states.

Mr Popescu-Tariceanu arrived in Rome following a recent public outcry in Italy over a rising number of crimes committed by foreigners, particularly Romanian citizens of Roma origin.

Last week, the Italian government adopted measures allowing the local authorities to expel migrants without proper documentation and with previous records in the police register.

Bucharest reacted by protesting against its citizens being singled out as the target of such extraordinary measures, particularly highlighting cases of racism-motivated attacks on Romanian immigrants by Italians.

Before arriving in Italy, the Romanian prime minister accused Italian politicians of triggering "a wave of xenophobia".

But on Wednesday, the two leaders agreed on some bilateral action to tackle the situation, such as forming a joint police force and more coordination by border police from both countries.

Also, Bucharest will strengthen its consular network in Italy, while Rome plans to introduce new measures to boost social integration of newly arrived immigrants.

According to Eurostat figures, more than 240,000 Romanians were registered as residents in Italy this year, with almost twice the number registered in Spain.

The Italian authorities estimate that around 560,000 Romanians live in the country, representing around one percent of its population. There was a significant rise of their numbers after Romania joined the EU this January.

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