Immigration in the Mediterranean: the uncertainty of the operation Triton

(In collaboration with Termometro Politico)


On October 15th, the announcement by the Minister of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Joyce Anne Anelay, concerning the refusal of the United Kingdom to take part in the operation Triton has confirmed not only a British policy increasingly closed to immigration, but also the undisguised discontents that more and more lurk around the European managing of the so-called “voyages of hope”.

The reason for theBritish irremovable refusal has to be found in starting the operation Triton, scheduled for November 1st. Considered initially as a complementary to the operation Mare Nostrum, it will soon be the only string that the European Union will have to his bow for dealing with an emergency becoming more and more pressing every month.

The Italian government, through the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Minister of Interior Angelino Alfano, announced to terminate Mare Nostrum, with the consent of the EU agency Frontex.

The operation had contributed to save the lives of 150,810 migrants, but failed to prevent the deaths of other 3,000 desperates heading to the European coasts. In addition, it should be noted that it cost a waste of resources that Italy was already struggling to support: we understand, then, why the protests carried out ​by international institutions and NGOs, such as Amnesty International, Save the Children and UNHCR did not have much echo.

What does the operation Triton involve and why is it considered unsuitable? With respect to the operations Mare Nostrum, Hermes and Aeneas, the operation Triton will be a very small thing: firstly, is expected a patrol up to approximately 30 miles from the Italian coasts, further comprising a rather small part of the Mediterranean Sea, in contrast to what provided in the operation Mare Nostrum, which extended up to international waters to protect the safety of the migrants behind the North African coasts.

Secondly, the funds provided by the European Union will amount to 2.9 million Euros a month throughout 2014, with little chances of being increased in 2015. This possibility is strongly questioned by the necessity of having the conjoint consensus of the European Council and the European Parliament. The latter seemed to be less inclined on favorably considering immigration, especially after 2005, since it gained decision making power in this subject.

Last important factor, given the nature of the operation and the strictly voluntary adhesion to Triton, is the indifference shown by Germany and the United Kingdom, which have declared the opposition to provide technical tools and support resources. According to official sources, there are nine countries that became available in October: Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

Solidarity, although appreciated, however is insufficient and, on the eve of the operation Triton, there are questions about the real ability of the European Union and the EU agency Frontex. In particular, the intention to carry out an effective action on the management of flows and immigration, also overcoming the divisions that until now have obstructed it.




Master of Arts in European Studies (LUISS “Guido Carli”)

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