asylumBordersBrexitCooperationCoronavirusDefenseEducationEuropeExportsHuman RightsImmigrationInfectious diseasesInvestmentItalyKevin FosterLaw enforcementNegotiationsRightsSanctionsSecurityTradeUnited KingdomVisas

Italy warns UK against detention of EU citizens over border mistakes – POLITICO

LONDON — Locking up EU citizens who travel to Britain for a job interview or fall foul of post-Brexit immigration rules is not “acceptable,” Italy has told the U.K.

Benedetto Della Vedova, the Italian undersecretary for foreign affairs, visited London last week to meet counterparts at the U.K.’s Home Office and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, as the two countries reshape their relationship after Brexit.

In an interview with POLITICO, Della Vedova said he had raised the issue of immigration detentions with U.K. Immigration Minister Kevin Foster. “We made it clear to the Home Office and to minister Foster that we don’t consider acceptable what happened, and we hope that in the future cases like these will be treated in a different manner,” Della Vedova said.

The comments come after recent cases of EU citizens being detained and held in immigration removal centers after trying to enter the U.K. for work without visas or residence status, or traveling for job interviews — a situation for which no paperwork is required.

Last month, the Home Office said it had ordered border officials to stop transferring people detained without work visas to immigration removal centers while travel remains disrupted during the pandemic. Border officials should instead grant people immigration bail “where appropriate,” allowing them to stay in the country on bail conditions until they can take a flight back to their countries of origin.

Della Vedova said he had been reassured by Foster that EU citizens in those circumstances “won’t be put in cells again.” But the Italian minister said such a “dramatic change” in the U.K. immigration rules “must be handled in a more flexible and pragmatic way” than it has been in the first five months since freedom of movement with the EU came to an end. And he warned that many more Italians might seek to move to the U.K. without the necessary visas as international travel resumes.

“In that case, of course, you are not facing an illegal migrant, you are facing an EU or Italian citizen who is not fully aware that something called Brexit happened,” Della Vedova said.

A new relationship

Della Vedova’s visit to London focused on initial discussions for a bilateral deal between the U.K. and Italy to complement the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) signed last year, and which the Italian minister said he expects to be “fully implemented.”

His aim is to reach a deal by the end of the year, allowing closer cooperation between the two countries on issues like defense, climate change, education, science, investment and law enforcement.

The latter is of particular importance for Italy’s fight against organized crime. The country’s national anti-mafia prosecutor, Federico Cafiero, told the Guardian last month that criminal data sharing with Britain after Brexit “will be less effective,” and warned the mafia could “exploit” weaknesses in international cooperation.

However, Della Vedova said the Italian government had “not yet” seen Brexit hit its law enforcement work with Britain, which he said remains strong through Interpol and at the diplomatic level.

The Italian minister also expressed hope that, through the TCA and bilateral deal, the U.K. and Italy will be able “maintain the high level of investment” in each other’s countries, and keep “very strong ties” on international issues, including human rights in China.

It should be possible for the U.K. and the EU to “maintain more or less the same stance toward China,” he said, pointing to the recent decision by the European Parliament to freeze the ratification of the EU-China investment deal until Beijing lifts sanctions against EU lawmakers, and the suspension of the European Commission’s own efforts to ratify the text. “I don’t want to say it is under revision, but we decided to take some more time for a final decision,” Della Vedova said.

Missing pieces

Talks between Britain and Italy have so far not addressed another post-Brexit change that is annoying Rome: university fees. EU students starting a full university degree course in 2021-22 in the U.K. and arriving after December 2020 will have to pay much higher tuition fees, and won’t be eligible for tuition fee loans.

“This is a problem for Italian students who cannot afford the high fees,” Della Vedova said. “I think at the end of the day it will be a problem also for the U.K. universities because the recruitment of students, researchers and professors among the Italian community was very successful for the Italians but very fruitful for the universities.”

The U.K.-Italy bilateral deal is also not expected to cover asylum, an important reform for the Home Office after Brexit. Britain wants to return refugees to the first safe country they entered on their journey to the U.K., or to a third country while claims are processed. To do that, the U.K. is seeking bilateral deals with EU member countries, but is struggling to persuade other capitals to enter negotiations. Della Vedova said there are currently no negotiations on asylum between the two countries because Italy opposes such a policy.

As a big exporter of cheese, vegetables and other fresh food to Britain, Italy is also closely watching the phased introduction of border checks on EU exports to the U.K., most of which will come into force on January 1, 2022. Asked about their potential impact on Italian exports, Della Vedova said more investment in logistics is needed, but expressed confidence that the EU and the U.K. will stick to the standards agreed last year because it is in the mutual interest “not to break what is going so well.”

“The goal [of the Italy-U.K. bilateral relationship] is to have something that is not worse than in the past,” he said.

Want more analysis from POLITICO? POLITICO Pro is our premium intelligence service for professionals. From financial services to trade, technology, cybersecurity and more, Pro delivers real time intelligence, deep insight and breaking scoops you need to keep one step ahead. Email [email protected] to request a complimentary trial.



Due Credit: Efogator.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button