The new arrivals are registered on Sicily, where they remain as they wait for their cases to be processed and until they are relocated. What they encounter in southern Italy are weak and overburdened social systems and infrastructure. The country as a whole, moreover, suffers from high unemployment, policy-making processes that very much need reform, and a stalled economy.
This makes it all the more important for Europe to provide Italy with additional assistance, aiming at combating smugglers, rescuing people at sea and housing, integrating and relocating refugees and migrants. That is just one of the arguments I posit together with my coauthor Sylvia Schmidt. Rome knows that it needs Brussels, which is why Italy is bringing new momentum to the EU’s neighborhood, foreign and defense policy and advocating a robust European asylum and migration policy – steps that are needed now more than ever if the causes of displacement and migration are to be effectively addressed in Europe’s neighboring regions.
At the same time, the Renzi government must finally implement Italy’s long-overdue reforms if it wants its European policy proposals to be taken seriously. The country’s December 4 referendum on streamlining parliamentary processes is a milestone – albeit a risky one – on the path to achieving that Goal.