Lower House ratifies Italy-Albania migrant deal

The Lower House on Wednesday ratified a deal between Italy and Albania to set up two migrant reception centres on Albanian territory to process the asylum claims of migrants and refugees rescued by Italian authorities at sea.

Lawmakers approved the ratification bill with 155 votes in favour, 115 against and two abstentions.

The bill now passes to the Senate for final approval.

The agreement, signed by Premier Giorgia Meloni and her Albanian counterpart Edi Rama in Rome in November, provides for the reception and processing of up to 3,000 migrants and refugees per month.

People with special needs such as the elderly, children or pregnant women, migrants and refugees who have been rescued by NGO-run ships and people who land directly on Italian soil are to be excluded from the deal.

In December the Albanian constitutional court suspended the ratification of the deal in the Albanian parliament pending a decision on challenges to the plan.

Rama said at the time that he was “confident” in the court’s assessment of the agreement because it “has nothing unconstitutional” and that he expected a decision to be taken “much sooner” than the March deadline.

Since taking office in autumn 2022 the Meloni government has been reaching out to third countries in a bid to stem irregular migration by sea to Italy, which in 2023 rose by around 50% over the previous year.