Italy becomes latest EU state to shun UN migration pact

Published 29.11.2018 01:12
Updated 29.11.2018 08:00

Italy has joined a number of countries that are refusing to endorse a U.N. pact on migration, which is to be signed next month.

The Global Compact for Migration is on the agenda of an international conference in Marrakech, Morocco, on Dec. 10-11, but Italy will desert it, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a statement yesterday. This was because the government has decided to delegate to parliament a decision on whether to back the deal or not, and lawmakers will not debate the issue before the Marrakech meeting.

The announcement came a day after Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, a migration hardliner and leader of the far-right League, said he was "absolutely against" the pact. That stance contradicted what Conte had said in a U.N. speech in September.

"The migratory phenomena we are facing require a structured, multilevel, and short, medium, and long-term response from the international community as a whole. It is on this basis that we support the Global Compact on migration and refugees," he said.

Yesterday's Corriere della Sera newspaper portrayed Salvini's rejection of the U.N. deal as undermining Conte's international credibility. It asked: "What is the prime minister's word worth?"

The U.N. pact was approved in July by all 193 member nations except the United States, which backed out last year. It followed the biggest influx of migrants into Europe since World War Two, many fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and beyond. It lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and better manage migratory flows as the number of people on the move worldwide has increased to 250 million, three percent of the world's population.

Salvini claimed it limits national sovereignty and places "economic migrants on the same level as political refugees."

The non-binding pact has drawn opposition from nationalists in several countries. Australia has become the latest country to decline signing a United Nations migration agreement, with ministers saying Wednesday that it was not in the national interest. The U.N. pact has become controversial in many countries in the West, especially in those led by conservative governments, with Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Estonia, Israel and the United States saying they will not sign it.

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