Table of content:


Essential facts vs. manipulated perceptions

The Law of the Sea, the SAR Convention, Human Rights and Art. 79 – ex Art. 63 – of TFEU

Conclusion: a reinforced and enlarged Frontex is definitively not the answer.


We all know that millions of persons are and will be displaced and forced to immigrate. Since 2007 Italy itself has lost about 5 million citizens and residents. These massive population flows can perhaps be slowed down but in the end they are unstoppable. Whenever a phenomenon is inevitable it must be transformed into an opportunity.

Facts must also be re-established away from any demagoguery. Inciting war among the poor is not proper for leaders worthy of their institutional responsibilities. Mutatis mutandis population growth induces GDP growth. In Italy we are now witnessing a tragic demographic collapse, one that can only be reversed with recourse to energetic birth and integration policies.

Essential facts vs manipulated perceptions

Let us start with some data as of January 1st , 2018:

In Italy : « the mortality rate increases dramatically (647.000 persons, 5.1% more than the year before) while births fell at an historical low (464.000, that is to say 2 % less). This negative balance amounts to 183.000 less inhabitants. » (1)

Meanwhile, some 153 000 migrants fled from Italy, 112 000 Italians among them. Arrivals from other countries reached 337 000, the highest score in the last 5 years; among these were 45 000 Italians coming back. (idem) Working conditions being poor everywhere, immigration can no longer play the role of the main socio-economic adjustment variable for our country.

According to INPS, the public pension plan: « Closing the doors to immigration? Boeri: ‘’It would cost us 38 billions’’» (2)

Jokes aside, our country really needs strong socio-economic policies aimed at the integration of more immigrants, including our own citizens who are now forced to flee from Italy by the very same politicians who wash profusely and demagogically about security and immigration.

Birth policies should be compatible with women’s rights. This implies an authentic national division of socially available work among all citizens capable of working so that the individual work-week will be shorter with the same initial paycheck but with increased social contributions – differed salary – levied on the gross paycheck. It also implies a universal and public kindergarten policy backed up by the socialization of many other domestic tasks.

With its induced social and cultural métissage immigration represents an added collective wealth. Thus one can easily think of an integration and development policy just by imagining the city of Riace being able to tap into real and substantial national and European dedicated funds. The expansion and consolidation of the current European funds destined to the immigration sector into a big European Fund for Integration and Development is urgently needed. This Fund should supplement the existing structural funds. This will induce socio-economic development, especially if priority would be given to reverse current regional and social disparity within the EU, thus arresting and counter-acting the present depopulation process. Additionally this would modify the perceptions of the mass of citizens, in particular within peripheral areas, both in the South and in the North of Europe.

The creation of this Fund offers an alternative that is not yet perverted by a regressive security motivation. It is the only positive mode available to simultaneously respect basic Human Rights as well as the crucial principle of free circulation within the borders of the EU. This could be achieved without inducing unmanageable immigrant concentrations in the wealthiest European regions.

The EU should also establish two priorities: first, the ending of colonialism and second the incrementation of the funds destined to international aid. The level of the latter should reach the threshold of 0.7 % of GDP that had been decided upon years ago but never reached. The main flows of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea originate in African countries and transit through Libya. Those who travel along the Eastern European routes, now mainly absorbed by Turkey, are increased by the over 5-million Syrians forced to flee their country due to a criminal warmongering regime change failed attempt.  We should underline the fact that the World-wide majority of migrants and refugees is currently accommodated by the emerging and under-developed countries – the so-called South. This is done with the help of UNCHR backed up by various ONG. For years now the UNHCR has denounced the tragic lack of funds.

Lest us start with a plain question: Is it true that Italy is left alone to manage the immigration phenomenon?  Leaving apart any demagogic manipulation, there exists no immigration emergency whatsoever in Italy aside from the massive flight outside Italy by residents of both genders that still can afford it. I have already dealt with this issue in June-August 2015 in an essay entitled « L’Italia alle prese con le migrazioni moderne » (3)

Here is a fact-grounded answer:

« Is there a real immigration emergency in Italy? Alberto Negri: “Malta presently receives 7.948 migrants who represent 18.3 over a thousand. France receives 304.000, 4 over a thousand. Austria 93.000, that is 10 over a thousand. Germany 669.5000, namely 8.1 over a thousand. Greece receives 21.500, that is 2 over a thousand. Italy receives 147.000 migrants or 2.4 over a thousand. These are the numbers. The rest is propaganda. Let us say that Italy’s reception policies are disorganised at best and that is the real Achilles’ heel of the country » (4)

According to the World Immigration Organization (5) the first arrivals in Europe up to June 10, 2018 were:

« 44.570 arrivals in Europe 2018. 35.455 by sea. 792 dead or missing – Mediterranean Sea.

For 2017:

186.768 arrivals in Europe.

3.116 dead or missing – Mediterranean Sea

For 2016

390.432 arrivals in Europe

5.143 dead or missing – Mediterranean Sea »

The same source provides the respective number of arrivals from 2015 to June 9, 2018:

Spain: 71,347 – Total 2018: 11 792 – 9 315 by sea

Italy: 468 977 – Total 2018: 14 330 all by sea. Annual average for 2015/17: 151 549.

Greece: 1 087 204 – Total 2018: 17 883 – 11 763 by sea »

The cost of sending back an immigrant amounts to at least 4000 Euros and would concern a person who is likely to come back as soon as s/he can. Such returns are not automatic either because most migrants have no valid documents and because it is difficult to return an immigrant without the prior agreement of the eventual host country. Forceful returns are thus a costly policy and one that is lost even before it starts.

Even taking into account the fact that the first semester is not favorable to such sea crossings and the added fact that, under pressure from Italy, Libya is now managing a huge maritime SAR Zone, these numbers are far from indicating an out-of-control emergency, one that could not be faced with ordinary means as before. Adding to this diagnostic, one must note that the reputation of the Search and Rescue operations conducted by Libyans is not great. Remains the fact that this constructed security drive has caused the drastic and counter-productive diminution of the ONG activities, which means that the number of dead and missing is certainly highly under-estimated. (6)

The Law of the Sea, the SAR Convention, Human Rights and Art. 79 – ex Art. 63 – of TFEU

Among the oldest human customs that are synonymous with civilization are found three sacred duties which are well-rooted on both shores of the Mediterranean Sea: hospitality, lending help to persons at risk, a principle naturally extended to the maritime domain, and the safety of ambassadors. Modern natural law, anticipated by our great Giambattista Vico’s  « diritto delle genti », was codified in the universal individual and social fundamental rights as well as in modern international treaties.

According to the Law of the Sea (7) the ship nearest to a shipwreck has the duty to change its course in order to rescue the victims and bring them to the closest and most secure port. The key term here is « closest »; the reason is obvious because before the emergence of the modern massive population flows, merchant ships were mainly involved. The question of cost did emerge but in my opinion this should be taken care of by public insurance companies. It would be greatly more affordable. Obviously, the migrants saved either on land or at sea cannot be landed in a country that does not respect fundamental rights and which would therefore be susceptible to endanger their life and their political freedom. Article 10 of our Constitution enshrines the asylum right. Recently the French Conseil d’Etat has courageously reaffirmed the right to political asylum in France. (8)

With respect to the shameful Italian treatment inflicted upon the « Aquarius », Prof. Paleologo of Palermo remarked that the patrol boats which brought the shipwrecked victims on board were flying the Italian flag and are thus considered « Italian territory ». He also noted that Article 19 of the Testo Unico sull’Immigrazione ( ) forbids any forceful collective return, particularly when dealing with pregnant women, children or persons with an Italian parent. In such cases, the matter falls within the precinct of the European Court and of the International Court of Justice at the Hague. In some cases, it might even concern the Penal Court of Justice located in … Rome.

The case of the « Aquarius » is emblematic because it summarizes all the aspects of search and rescue missions at sea. It initiated with a far from honorable diatribe with Malta. To understand the issue, one must take a look at the so-called SAR Zones. (9) The Convention on Search and Rescue – SAR – dates back to 1979. It provided for maritime zones in the Mediterranean Sea placed under the responsibility of a specific State. However, it did so without modifying the duties derived from the Law of the Sea or from Human Rights. Inheriting a SAR Zone deemed to overwhelm its operational capacities, Malta did not sign in on all the articles of the SAR. Furthermore, Italian and Maltese SAR Zones do overlap.  Malta took pretext of this to refuse permission to the « Aquarius » to dock at La Valletta. It argued that the Search and Rescue operation had been coordinated by the Italian Coastal Guard.

It is true that Malta hosts proportionally more migrants than Italy, but it is equally true that the concept of « safe port » was here used in a distorted fashion. This is a direct result of the failed European reallocation of refugees already present within the EU borders. One must underline the fact that even if it had worked, this reallocation would have concerned a tiny fraction of the migrant phenomenon. (10)

Lately a huge SAR Zone was established by Libya. This happened in a context in which this country is victim of the most complete anarchy and has a deplorable reputation for its Search and Rescue operations at sea. In effect, all the ONG involved testify to the fact that migrants prefer to throw themselves to the sea rather than be rescued from the Libyan Costal Guard. The honor of the Libyan and of European peoples forces us to add that backdoors negotiations with Libyans are not foreign to this poorly « dissuasive » behavior. There has been talks of occult financing to the tribes …

It would seem, even if unconsciously (?), that the creation of Frontex – that is to say the regressive choice to militarize the immigration issue and to grotesquely attempt to build a maritime Maginot Line in the Mediterranean Sea – has aggravated this drifting along that regressive choice. Similarly, it is illegitimate to abuse the principle of « innocent passage » in the territorial sea in order to criminalise the ONG and the other actors from civil society which are now active on the immigration front. If some individuals are suspected to manipulate mass immigration to destabilise specific countries or blocs of countries, the solution lies in a national and European law that would forbid the implicated ONG to dock on Italian shores when they are effectively financed by these individuals, their foundations or other like them. In any case, without the principled repudiation of neo-colonialism with its warmongering regime change and without the return to the full independence of Libya – and, for that matter, of Syria –, there does not exist the slightest hope to contain and to stabilise migration flows within Europe’s borders. It would help initiating new and serious negotiations to clarify all these concepts and specific responsibilities, taking due account of the long-term saliency of the mass immigration phenomenon.

Aside from these international considerations was also brought to light a damaging and in part electoralist confusion within the newly formed Italian government. In effect, the Coastal Guard and the Port Authorities fall under the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport. The sad reality is that our country cannot afford the luxury to act in a disorderly and ad hoc fashion in such a serious dossier. On the contrary, it should avoid media hype and concentrate on a vast diplomatic offensive to arrive at a really viable European immigration policy.

It should be underlined that one of the major and most progressive conquests of the European integration process, one built from the bottom up, is embodied in Article 79 of the Consolidated Treaty of Functioning of the EU (TFEU). Recent agreements like the now de facto defunct Dublin Treaty have always seemed ultra-vires to me. This is because unless specifically specified, current treaties cannot contradict previous ones, especially not on such fundamental issues like freedom of circulation within the EU borders.

We can safely contend that without Article 79, immigration, which is by definition a transborder phenomenon, would not have been established as a joint power in the EU. The EU has nothing to do with the doctrine of « preventive war », one that is illegal and criminal by definition,  and Italy even less given the Article 11 of its Constitution which repudiates war as a mean of resolving conflict (aside from self-defence on its national territory in accordance with the UN Charter.)  The current regressive all-out security choice causes a pernicious and purely nationalist/chauvinistic trend, which in turns leads to dangerous restrictions of basic freedoms, for instance freedom of circulation. Thus the Schengen Treaty became the object of too many restrictions over and above what could have been explained advocating exceptional and by definition transitory measures. I tried to explain elsewhere that this trend to abuse the security issue, in order to militarize civil and democratic life, is not at all innocent. (12)

The already de facto failed attempt to negotiate a repartition of refugees who have been granted asylum within the EU has always seemed to me a losing and inadequate strategy. Accepted refugees are but a tiny part of the overall immigration issue. In any case, it is one that would be detrimental to Italy although this is not always understood by our political leaders. The same could be said of the anti-human rights and of the demagogical rhetoric, which equally displays a poor understanding of the real costs involved. This is particularly true for the unbelievable calls to have closed migrant reception centers. (13)

In Italy, these migrant reception centers are already overcrowded due to unacceptable public neglect. Their management is often in the hands of the mafias or of otherwise corrupt hands. This is mainly due to the often private nature of these centers, a reality that has already brought the unanimous condemnation of our country as well as that of the Public Prosecutor, judge Gratteri. (14) The criminalization – Bossi-Fini/Minniti laws and decrees – of the migrants and of the Roms, leads to an unhelpful and counter-productive over-crowding of Italian jails, a tragic situation which already triggered the European condemnation of Italy for torture and for the inhuman treatment of detainees.

It remains that were the other European partners of Italy successful in encouraging this regressive choice in the mind of our leaders, freedom of circulation within European borders would be strictly regimented while hotspots would be imposed on border-countries with one and only one mission, namely to register first arrivals and returning them to the registration point whenever they are caught crossing an internal European border! This happens already at Ventimiglia and on the Brenner pass and elsewhere, and it is susceptible to create a gross injustice which will inevitably foster a very serious and multifaceted problem. European integration, particularly that which strive for the slow but coherent construction of a Social Europe based on a confederation of member National States, would be the first victim.

Conclusion: a reinforced and enlarged Frontex is definitively not the answer.

The same criticism applies for the various proposals which purport to confront the current immigration phenomenon with a massive enlargement of Frontex. « The actual plan provides that the Frontex staff be increased from 1.500 to 10.000 men within 2027. » (15) Such an increase would constitute a further proof to the underlying barbarous trend embarked upon by the blind current EU leadership with its all-out militarised security choice, one which is, in fact, squarely aimed at the European peoples themselves. In such conditions, in 2027 just like today, none of the problems revealed by the tragic and lamentable treatment of the « Aquarius », has any chance to be solved. But the cost for the public purse would be considerable. Italy being one of the main European countries will have to participate at least proportionally to its GDP. And this just to badly carry out what our Coastal Guard with the help of few ONG were doing fine up to now. ONG are financed by citizens’ donations. It is true that such donations are in part deductable from income tax but then the burden is shared internationally by the fortunately growing international civil society. A global democratic world cannot abstract from this trend.

Despite the incomprehensible illusion of some politicians, this regressive militarization trend is in effect antithetical to the best interest of our and other border European States. The most serious result induced by it would actually concretise itself in the context of a proposed though largely inacceptable reform of the current EU Budget. The neoliberal monetarist Eurocrates simply propose further cuts in an already dismantled PAC in order to finance the unneeded enlargement of Frontex! This is serious enough even without having to mention the cost of the immigration Accord negotiated with Turkey … (16)

These funds would be much more useful if they were destined to the creation of the new Integration and Development Fund which I have been requesting since at least 2015. This seems to be the unique method to arrive at an equitable reallocation of the migrants’ flows within member States, without infringing upon the cherished freedom of movement. It would offer the added promise to induce real socio-economic and cultural development within the member States without having to transform them into ersatz of the accord imposed on Turkey.

But in this case, it would go without saying that the priority of priorities for Italy consists in cleaning up its own act in the management of this dossier. In particular, migrant reception centers and accompanying programs must quickly be brought under rigorous public control and be subjected to regular and strict auditing. If only because as was demonstrated yesterday by Badolato and today by Riace, in this case even the existing funds would do.

Paul De Marco

June 17, 2018, translated on June 19, 2018. San Giovanni in Fiore (CS), a city founded by Joachim of Fiore « the Calabrian endowed with a prophetic spirit » which knew how to use asylum right to foster growth even though it is a mountainous city located at more than 1000 m. above the level of the sea. (17)


1 ) « Cala la popolazione e sale la mortalità. Ma non è un caso… » di Redazione Contropiano

2 ) « Porte chiuse agli immigrati? Boeri: “Ci costerebbe 38 miliardi”» Rapporto Inps: senza i lavoratori dall’estero in 22 anni si avrebbero 35 miliardi in meno di uscite, ma anche 73 in meno di entrate. Il presidente: “Si completino le riforme del lavoro e della previdenza: serve un reddito minimo d’inclusione, un salario minimo e il ricongiungimento gratuito dei contributi”. Una proposta: “L’Inps eroga 440 prestazioni, solo 150 sono di natura pensionistica: lo si chiami Istituto della Protezione sociale”. L’abuso della Cig: per il 20% delle imprese dura cinque anni o più, di ROSARIA AMATO 04 luglio 2017

3 ) See . The table of content is reproduced below.

4 ) Una nave apre lo squarcio sul mondo che ci attende, di Alessandro Bianchi*

5 )

6 ) « According to some sources, in 2016 the ONG were responsible for around 40 % of all rescue operations. The rest was taken care of by the Italian navy, by the European agency Frontex and by merchant ships forced to modify their routes to search and rescue according to the law of the sea » (translation mine ) in « En Méditerranée, les opérations de sauvetage des ONG de plus en plus compliquées », A l’été 2017, une douzaine de navires intervenaient au large de l’Italie. Ils ne sont plus que trois. Les premiers migrants recueillis par l’« Aquarius » sont arrivés en Espagne, dimanche à l’aube, LE MONDE | 15.06.2018 à 18h12 • Mis à jour le 17.06.2018 à 06h57 | Par Charlotte Chabas et Caroline Vinet

7 ) Vedi: Aquarius, l’esperto: “Illegale il respingimento collettivo di donne incinte e bambini, l’Italia rischia”, (afp), Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, giurista e professore di Diritto dell’asilo all’Università di Palermo: “E’ come si si trovassero su suolo italiano, violato l’articolo 19 del Testo unico sull’immigrazione. Potrebbe intervenire la Corte europea dei diritti umani”. E ci sono anche le “responsabilità penali internazionali” paventate dalla ministra spagnola Delgado, di FABIO TONACCI 14 giugno 2018 .

See aslo:

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

Testo unico sull’immigrazione )

8 ) « La réforme du droit d’asile voulue par l’Europe jugée inconstitutionnelle par le Conseil d’Etat », Une note, que « Le Monde » s’est procurée, rejette le renvoi des demandeurs d’asile vers des « pays tiers sûrs » sans examen de leur dossier, LE MONDE | 13.06.2018 à 06h16 • Mis à jour le 13.06.2018 à 11h00 | Par Maryline Baumard . Let us hope that the French courts will likewise intervene to declare ultra vires all the laws aimed at criminalizing the persons who come to the rescue of persons in distress, including immigrants.

9 ) For SAR Zones see : . See also the map provided in this article:

10 ) See the graphs in « I numeri Ue inchiodano Merkel e Macron: da Francia e Germania respinti 35mila migranti », Giuliano Balestreri Matteo Zorzoli  e in « Due numeri – ufficiali – sull’accoglienza »,  di Potere al Popolo

11 ) « Comunali trash. Si sgonfia la bolla grillina, bucata dall’abbraccio con la Lega », di Redazione Contropiano . Vedi pure: « Risultati elezioni comunali: avanzata del centrodestra a guida Lega, il M5s soffre. Centrosinistra bene a Brescia, ma perde Terni »

12 ) Vedi . For the english vertion see: Vedi pure:

13 ) « Migranti, Salvini: “Basta immigrati a spasso, i Centri saranno chiusi”», Un Centro di accoglienza migranti, Il ministro dell’Interno torna ad annunciare più espulsioni. Pronto un provvedimento per garantire ‘spiagge sicure’ in vista dell’estate, 06 giugno 2018

14 ) « “Cibo per maiali ai migranti”. L’inchiesta choc sull’accoglienza al Cara Sant’Anna », Gratteri condanna i clan: “Sfruttano i bisogni dei disperati”. E sul parroco: “Centinaia di migliaia euro per l’assistenza spirituale”, Sergio Rame – Lun, 15/05/2017 – 17:09 (Prosecutor Gratteri was denouncing here the fact that the food served in the reception center was not even good to feed pigs! )

15) Vedi « L’austriaco Kurz invoca un “asse Roma-Vienna-Berlino” sui migranti », di Thomas Schnee – Mediapart ,

16 ) These accords cost 6 billion euros, see the synthesis here : . Unfortunately, the repartition of the cost among member countries is not provided.

17 ) See the pertinent articles in the section « Italia » of my old site in particular the one entitled « Brevi appunti su Gioacchino da Fiore pitagorico »


« L’Italia alle prese con le migrazioni moderne » in

(Sul soggetto vedi pure The Migrants Files )


1) Flussi di popolazioni e rifugiati

2) Migranti in Europa e in Italia

3) Migranti europei nella EU ed i « Roms »

4) Quadro legale nella UE.

5) Accoglienza, prigioni e sfruttamento degli migranti

6) Fondi europei esistenti ed il Fondo europeo per l’integrazione e lo sviluppo da creare.

7) Epilogo 10 agosto (EU, Papa Francesco e le cavolate grilline e leghiste)

Comments are closed.