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Italy urges EU migration help

Med states bear brunt, deserve funds, Maroni says at summit

24 November, 18:56
Italy urges EU migration help (ANSA) - Venice, November 24 - Interior Minister Roberto Maroni on Tuesday urged the European Union to help Mediterranean countries deal with migration pressures. Addressing a summit of western Mediterranean interior ministers, Maroni said more resources were critical if such countries were to effectively manage the large number of African migrants entering Mediterranean countries en route to the EU. He recalled that the EU was in the process of finalizing its home affairs policy programme for the next five years, providing a ''historic'' opportunity to request more help. The so-called Stockholm Programme, drawn up to succeed the five-year Hague Programme, is expected to be finalized and signed at the EU summit in mid-December. ''It is to be hoped the Mediterranean will receive enough resources and attention to help it deal with the great challenges posed by immigration to this area,'' Maroni said. ''In order to better manage legal immigration, the procedures for fighting illegal immigration and human trafficking must first be strengthened''. The daylong summit in Venice was attended by the EU's five Mediterranean countries, as well as five North African states: Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania. In addition to discussing migration, ministers also considered the issue of terrorism, Maroni said after the conference. All delegates agreed that the Internet was a crucial battleground in the fight against terrorism, he said. ''We have decided to join forces to prevent the radicalization and recruitment of terrorism and prevent new information technologies, such as the Internet, being used for terrorist purposes,'' the Italian minister explained. ''This is an important decision that will see us working together to block such sites and the exchange of dangerous information in our ten countries''. Ahead of the conference, Maroni met with French Immigration Minister Eric Besson for bilateral talks on migration matters. Sources said they agreed to raise joint proposals for additional resources at the next European council of interior ministers at the end of November. The centre-right governments of President Nicolas Sarkozy and Premier Silvio Berlusconi have several times adopted a common approach to migration in the context of the EU. Last month, Sarkozy and Berlusconi sent a joint letter to the European Commission and the EU's duty president calling for ''concrete decisions and actions'' in migrants' countries of origin. Sarkozy reiterated his determination to fight illegal immigration on Tuesday, stressing there would be no amnesties for migrants arriving in France without documents. The immigration issue was also raised at a separate bilateral meeting between Italian Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi and his Spanish counterpart Celestino Corbacho in Rome on Tuesday. Both men agreed on the need for ''more robust cooperation in tackling migration flows,'' sources said, while Corbacho remarked afterwards that there ''a growing need for a coordinated immigration policy''.

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