Whether or not the EU agrees, the Italian Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini has vowed to transport 20 Eritrean asylum seekers from Italy to Albania. During a party rally in Padova on Friday, Salvini stated:
In the last 20 years we got used to the fact that migrants were arriving in Italy from Albania. For the first time, after 20 years, we have managed to send some migrants from Italy to Albania. But Europe doesn’t like it. Europe said no. The EU said we can send migrants to Albania, in agreement with the Albanian Government, only if the migrants agree to be sent there.
In theory, these people are fleeing wars, but when they get here they want to choose the hotel where they want to stay in. If Albania wants to welcome them, they’ll be sent to Albania, full stop.
If Brussels is OK with it, we will do it. If Brussels doesn’t agree, we will do it anyway.
On Wednesday last week, European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud had already declared, as we have argued before, that the Eritrean asylum seekers cannot be moved to a third country without their express consent.
For the redistribution of migrants in the event of a bilateral agreement between a member state and a third country, such as Albania, the consensus of the people is necessary to file an application for asylum in another country as that one of arrival.
EU Legislation is even truer in this case. So we need to check for people’s consent, whether they are asylum seekers or not. In this context, there are two European laws. In particular the directive on asylum procedures stating that if someone applies for asylum in an EU country we must give him access to the Procedures in the EU state in question. Then there is the Return Policy.
It this appears that Prime Minister Edi Rama’s deal with Salvini to take over 20 refugees from Italy in an attempt to ingratiate himself with an anti-immigrant, far-right, and eurosceptic Italian government has caused a conflict between the European Commission and Italy.
Moreover, it clearly shows that in spite of his aspirations, Prime Minister Rama is still unable to grasp the basic legal tenets of the European Union and the concept of the rule of law.