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UK, Italy consider joining forces on irregular migration: Report

UK, Italy consider joining forces on irregular migration: Report

by host

The U.K. is considering teaming up with Italy to address illegal migrant flows across the Mediterranean, the Telegraph reported late Friday.

The newspaper reported that Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Simon Case was sent to Italy in mid-June to meet senior members of the Italian government with the aim of preparing the deal.

The agreement, which officials quoted by the paper said would focus on small boats, follows up on a Memorandum of Understanding signed in April by the two countries in an effort to tackle illegal migration under the “Strategic Migration Partnership.”

Nearly 45,000 people arrived in the U.K last year after crossing the English Channel by small boats — a record high for Britain which led a few members of the Conservative Party, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s own political family, to demand tougher policies on irregular migration.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, meanwhile, has been increasingly focusing on cracking down on migration flows — a wedge issue for Italy’s far-right. Around 105,000 people arrived in Italy in 2022, up 56 percent compared to the previous year, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Last month, Meloni successfully brokered a historic deal to overhaul the way Europe welcomes migrants — requiring frontline states to institute a stricter asylum procedure at the border for those deemed unlikely to be accepted and giving capitals greater leeway to return rejected applicants.

However, she failed to replicate her success at Friday’s European Council, where hours-long negotiations failed to land a joint statement as Poland and Hungary refused to drop their opposition to the already-agreed deal.

Heightened political discussions to stem migration flows come as at least 79 people drowned in mid-June off the Greek coast, sparking only short-lived outrage and a muted response from the European Commission.

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