Refugee policy in northern Europe drastically changes

Migrants trying to find their way to a new life in Europe are now facing an added difficulty – regular tightening of policy changes for migrants.

One year after the great refugee influx reached Europe, lasting changes have occurred in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. All four countries have tightened their asylum policies, in some cases harshly, and border controls between the countries have been reinstated for the first time since the 1950s. While differences over joint EU migration policy remain, the situation has created awareness of the need to improve coordination of migration and integration policies in northern Europe.

Italy is also stepping up measures to repatriate migrants who have no right to stay in the country, in a sign of the pressure facing authorities after an influx of people crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

The country’s chief of police has asked officers nationwide to step up efforts to identify and repatriate migrants who are not entitled to asylum, while Italy will also open new identification centers to hold people before their expulsion. In a directive to officers Franco Gabrielli, Italy’s police chief, said local officers should take “extraordinary action” to control and remove irregular migrants.

The tougher migrant stance marks the first significant policy change under Paolo Gentiloni, the new Prime Minister.

In a New Year’s address Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s President, said: “It would be a big mistake to underestimate the anxieties spread in our society after the explosion of international terrorism of Islamic origin, [and] the presence of many migrants in our country has increasingly created a sense of insecurity.” “The correlation between immigrant and terrorist is unjust and unacceptable,” the president added, “but all efforts and security measures have to be put in place in order to avoid the radicalization of threatening figures and preachers of death.”

Denmark, Finland and Norway have also pursued restrictive approaches to migrant issues and numerous changes are being perceived in their policies.