'National asylum plans should be scrapped'

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Sandro Gozi said EU countries should “begin to experiment” with new ways to manage asylum requests. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
15:31 CEST+02:00
Italy's undersecretary for European politics, Sandro Gozi, on Tuesday called for European countries to scrap their national asylum systems in favour of a broader EU plan.

Gozi said EU countries should “begin to experiment” with new ways to manage asylum requests, following a sharp rise in the number of claims in Italy in recent months.

“If people arrive in Italy, we should look to see where they want to go, search together and begin to allocate [asylum places],” he said on Tuesday, during a conference with journalists to outline the Italian government’s plan for its EU presidency later this year.

“Abandon the different national asylum systems and look to converge them,” Gozi said.

The Democratic Party (PD) politician was speaking as the immigration debate comes to the fore in Italy, following a spike in people arriving by boat on the country’s southern shore.

The interior ministry said last week that 36,000 migrants have landed so far in 2014, just short of the 42,925 that arrived during the whole of 2013.

On Tuesday, the Italian navy rescued two boats, packed with more than 500 migrants and 133 children, off Sicily.

READ MORE HERE: Italian navy rescues 133 migrant children

In response to the increase, coupled with the drowning of more than 400 migrants in October, the Italian government launched its "Mare Nostrum" ("Our Sea") operation patrolling the Mediterranean. Gozi on Tuesday suggested Mare Nostrum should be transformed into an “EU operation”, warning of the dangers of ignoring Italy’s immigration problem.

“If we have a problem...evidently we cannot manage it alone. Also because 90 percent of those who arrive in Italy don’t want to stay here,” he said, citing a rise in asylum requests in Sweden as an example of the broader challenge to the EU.

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“Evidently, if we don’t confront the problems at the EU’s borders, Sweden will have many more problems with its concentration of asylum claims,” Gozi said.

READ MORE: Italy threatens to send migrants across Europe

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