Legal flows of immigrants are a source of wealth, reiterates the prime minister, Mario Draghi. Consistent with this principle, and at the request of employers and some regional presidents, Draghi has signed a decree to allow 70,000 non-EU immigrants to enter the labor market. In this way, permits have more than doubled compared to the last six years. With this extraordinary opening to non-EU labor, Italy discovers that for its reconstruction after the pandemic it needs thousands of immigrants, especially in the construction, agriculture, automotive and tourism sectors. The decree foresees, for example, 20,000 foreigners assigned to the “sectors of freight transport for third parties, construction and hotel tourism.”
The origin of the immigrants is indicated in the text and refers to countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. They are nations with which Italy has signed cooperation agreements: Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Korea, Ivory Coast, Egypt and others.
The initial proposal of the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of the Interior to the government was 80,000 income, a figure too high according to the leader of the League, Matteo Salvini, who requested a rebate. The government responded to his request in a small part, but in any case it is a figure that already falls short. The government could sign another decree in the coming months to approve a similar revenue figure. For the moment, the prime minister has confirmed that the needs are higher than the approved permits: “We are thus responding to a request from the Italian industry, especially in construction, whose demand is even higher than this figure,” said Draghi. Indeed, the WeBuild group, the Italian leader in construction, has informed the government that at least 100,000 workers are needed in its sector to carry out the Recovery Plan, in which Italy will invest more than 200,000 million euros, among loans and non-repayable aid from the European Union.
The Minister of Labor, Andrea Orlando, explained the two fundamental motivations for this profound change in Italy, by dramatically increase the number of permits compared to the past: «It is a decree on immigration flows that, for the first time in many years, tries to address the reality and needs of the social partners. It is calibrated on mechanisms aimed at enhancing the role of flow planning, also in a key negotiation with third countries in order to fight against human trafficking ”.
While showing that he is in favor of regulating immigration according to the labor needs of each country, Mario Draghi calls for the European Union to take charge of the emergency of the irregular immigration that reaches the Italian coasts and other southern European countries. But so far he seems to preach in the desert. In Italy, there is no truce in the wave of landings in recent days. Immigrants embark on the adventure of crossing the Mediterranean, hoping to reach Europe, despite bad weather conditions. On Christmas Eve there were dozens of deaths in the Aegean Sea, then almost two hundred off the coast of Libya. In 48 hours, also coinciding with Christmas, more than 1,000 people arrived in various Italian ports.
Taking into account the successive waves of landings on the Italian coasts, the problem of immigration is often present in the political debate, driven above all by the League of Matteo Salvini and Brothers of Italy, led by Giorgia Meloni. The numbers of disembarked immigrants speak volumes. According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, 66,482 people arrived on the Italian coast from January 1, 2021 to December 29; in the same period last year they were 34,134, while two years ago they were limited to 11,439. In this year, Tunisians lead among the nations of origin (15,477), followed by Egyptians (8,135) and Bengalis (7,656).
Mario Draghi’s position is very clear, but it is not supported by Europe: “The government wants to manage immigration in a balanced, efficient and humane way. But this management cannot be only Italian ”, said Prime Minister Draghi.
The European response to Italy is scandalous, according to various media. Several European countries signed an agreement in Malta for the redistribution of irregular immigrants. Only three nations showed host availability: Luxembourg, Portugal and Ireland. In the end, 2,028 immigrants were welcomed last year and 164 in the current one.
Deep down, beyond the problem of irregular immigration and the question of the need for immigrant labor, Italy has another serious problem: the birth rate. Pope Francis warned in the Christmas Angelus about “the tragedy of the Italian demographic winter” that “goes against our families, our homeland and our future.”
The low birth rate in Italy, at the bottom of Europe, means an aging population. Especially since 2015, fewer children are born. Since then, Italy has lost 436,000 citizens. Before, the births of foreign children offset the decline in motherhood for Italian women. Thus, in 2018 there were 65,444 newborns of foreign parents, a decrease of 12,000 children compared to 2013. Everything indicates that foreigners arriving in Italy are aging and face the same difficulties as Italians when adopting the decision to have a child. In any case, the professor of History and advisor for Culture in the city of Rome, Miguel Gotor, of the Democratic Party, writes in La Repubblica, that Italy needs more immigrants: «The problem in Italy is not that there are too many immigrants that ‘us they steal work ‘, but there are not enough, because today we already need them to pay our pensions with Social Security contributions, which they will enjoy minimally ».
Only new policies to help families, which the Draghi government has begun to implement, in line with what is being done in other countries, such as Germany and France, can solve this serious problem of the birth rate.