Senate gives final OK to Italy-Albania migrant agreement

The Senate on Thursday gave definitive approval to the government’s controversial accord with Albania to set up Italian-run centres to process thousands of migrants rescued by Italy in the Med in the Adriatic country each year.

The Upper House gave the green light with 93 votes in favour and 61 against.

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 rescued by Italian ships 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.

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.

The Italian opposition has slammed the deal as creating a new Guantanamo and allegedly breaching the Italian Constitution, charges the government rejects.

Some other EU countries have said it is a model that could be emulated.