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9.10.2012

Future Challenges

The future scenario of migration in Italy depends on how three main issues will be addressed in the near future. At the level of policies the question how the management of immigration flows as well as the inclusion of the immigrant population into the Italian (mainstream) society can be improved is at the centre of attention. A second issue is the perception of immigration by the Italian public. Will immigration and immigrants continue to be viewed in a rather negative light or will both be regarded as a chance rather than a threat? Finally, recent international developments such as the economic crisis and recent political changes in many North African countries had and will continue to have an impact on immigration patterns in Italy. How to deal with the repercussions of these events will be a political and economic challenge Italy needs to find answers to.

With regard to immigration policies, there is no doubt that one of Italy's biggest challenges is that connected to irregular migration. It is necessary to develop appropriate measures to reduce the number of migrants living in irregularity on Italian soil because their irregular status is closely linked to social marginalization especially due to an irregular migrant's lack in e.g. social and political rights. Also, coherent integration policies have to be designed, including the rethinking of the concept of citizenship and naturalization against the background of Italy's current character as a country of immigration.

How immigration is perceived by the Italian public also depends on the question how it is dealt with at the political level. Especially right-wing parties, like the Northern League (Lega Nord), tend to exploit the topic for electoral purposes by drawing a close connection between immigration and public security and by focusing exclusively on the criminalization of irregular migration. In order to win votes they present immigrants as competitors for jobs, thereby blaming immigrants to be one reason for unemployment among Italian nationals. This is especially dangerous against the background of the current economic crisis that has predominantly affected vulnerable groups, including immigrants. The worsening of the job market for both immigrants and Italians may lead to increasing competition for work and may provoke social conflicts as well as changes in immigration patterns in the coming years. Despite this discourse, there is also a tendency towards a growing awareness among the Italian public of the complementary role of immigrant labor especially with regard to specific economic sectors, such as care work and construction, where Italians do not want to work.

Finally, international developments have an impact on immigration patterns in Italy such as the "Arab Spring" in 2011 that has caused new migration movements from North Africa to Italy and Europe. Against this background, weaknesses of the Italian refugee reception and asylum system came to light that have to be addressed in the near future.

Dr. Giorgia Di Muzio

Dr. Giorgia Di Muzio

Dr. Giorgia Di Muzio studied political science and sociology at the University of Bologna. She wrote her doctoral thesis on Eastern European women in the household and care market in Italy.

E-mail: giorgia.dimuzio@unibo.it


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