The prime ministers of Italy and Romania have urged the EU to do more to help integrate migrants.
In a joint letter, Italy’s Romano Prodi and Romania’s Calin Tariceanu called for clearer EU rules on inclusion and on deportation of EU nationals.
The two leaders met in Rome to try to ease tensions over Italy’s decision to deport some Romanians under a new decree aimed at tackling crime. EDITOR’S NOTE: Italy is not suffering the criminality of ethnic Romanians, but gypsies, otherwise known as ‘Roma’ who happen to have resided in Romania.
The murder of an Italian woman, blamed on a Romanian man, ignited the row.
Last week’s murder in Rome led to the Italian emergency decree allowing deportations of any foreigners – including EU citizens – considered a threat to public safety.
Italy’s move prompted Romania to ask whether it violated European law, which allows EU citizens to travel freely across member states’ borders.
EU officials say Italy is acting within its rights provided it respects the union’s criteria for expulsion of EU citizens and does not target a group. Under European law, EU countries can expel EU citizens who pose a public threat or who lack sufficient income.
Romania has pledged to send about 30 police officers to help Italy identify criminals among the Romanian migrant community. A Roma (Gypsy) man has been charged over the murder in Rome.
The joint letter on Wednesday asked the European Commission to “consider a European strategy for the inclusion of Roma, to serve as the basis for new initiatives or to complement existing initiatives”.
More than half a million Romanians live in Italy – and at least 20 have been sent home so far in the new crackdown.
Bucharest has warned against a wave of xenophobia in Italy, following an assault on three Romanians by a mob in Rome in what is seen as a reprisal attack.