LONDON – Locking up EU citizens who are traveling to Britain for a job interview or who fall under post-Brexit immigration rules is not “acceptable”, Italy told the UK
Benedetto Della Vedova, Italy’s Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, traveled to London last week to meet his counterparts from the British Home Office and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, as the two countries are reshaping their relations after Brexit.
In an interview with POLITICO, Della Vedova said he raised the issue of immigrant detentions with UK Immigration Minister Kevin Foster. “We have made it clear to the Home Office and Minister Foster that we do not consider what has happened to be acceptable, and we hope that in the future cases like these will be dealt with in a manner different, ”said Della Vedova.
The comments follow recent cases of EU citizens detained and detained in immigrant removal centers after attempting to enter the UK to work without a visa or residency status, or traveling for interviews hiring – a situation for which no documentation 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 as travel remains disrupted during the pandemic. Rather, border officials should give people an immigration bond “where applicable”, allowing them to stay in the country on bail until they can catch a flight back to their home country.
Della Vedova said he was reassured by Foster that EU citizens under these circumstances “will no longer be put in cells”. But the Italian minister said “such a drastic change” in UK immigration rules “must be handled in a more flexible and pragmatic manner” than it has been in the first five months since the end of the freedom of movement with the EU. And he warned that many more Italians could seek to settle in the UK without the necessary visas to resume international travel.
“In this case, of course, you are not dealing with an illegal migrant, you are dealing with an EU or Italian citizen who is not fully aware that something called Brexit has happened,” said Della Vedova.
A new relationship
Della Vedova’s visit to London focused on initial talks for a bilateral deal between the UK and Italy to complement the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement (ACC) signed last year , and that the Italian minister said he expected it to be “fully implemented”.
Its aim is to reach an agreement by the end of the year, allowing for closer cooperation between the two countries on issues such as defense, climate change, education, science, investment and law enforcement.
The latter is particularly important for Italy’s fight against organized crime. The country’s national anti-mafia prosecutor, Federico Cafiero, tell the Guardian last month, sharing criminal data with Britain after Brexit “will be less effective”, and warned that 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 the hope that, thanks to the ETA and the bilateral agreement, the United Kingdom and Italy will be able to “maintain a high level of investment” in their respective countries, and to maintain “very close ties” on international issues, including human rights in China.
It should be possible for the UK and the EU to “maintain more or less the same stance towards China,” he said, highlighting the European Parliament’s recent decision to freeze ratification of the agreement. EU-China investment until Beijing lifts sanctions. against EU lawmakers and the suspension of the European Commission’s efforts to ratify the text. “I don’t mean to say that it is under review, but we have decided to take a little more time for a final decision,” said Della Vedova.
Talks between Britain and Italy have so far failed to address another post-Brexit change that annoys Rome: university fees. EU students starting a full university course in 2021-2022 in the UK and arriving after December 2020 will have to pay much higher tuition fees and will not be eligible for tuition loans.
“It is a problem for Italian students who cannot afford the high fees,” said Della Vedova. “I think that in the end it will also be a problem for UK universities as the recruitment of students, researchers and professors from the Italian community has been very fruitful for Italians but very fruitful for universities . “
The UK-Italy bilateral deal is also unlikely 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 UK or to a third country while applications are being processed. To do this, the UK is seeking bilateral agreements with EU member countries, but is struggling to persuade other capitals to enter into negotiations. Della Vedova said there are currently no asylum negotiations between the two countries as Italy opposes such a policy.
As a major exporter of cheese, vegetables and other fresh foods to Britain, Italy is also closely monitoring the gradual introduction of border controls on EU exports to the UK, 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 UK will stick to the standards agreed to last year as 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.
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