Italy Economy Real Time Data Charts

Edward Hugh is only able to update this blog from time to time, but he does run a lively Twitter account with plenty of Italy related comment. He also maintains a collection of constantly updated Italy economy charts together with short text updates on a Storify dedicated page Italy - Lost in Stagnation?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Immigration Law In The Works

Just following on from the previous post about the role of immigrants in Italian GDP growth it is interesting to note that Welfare Minister Paolo Ferrero has announced that the government is working on the draft of a new law which would be more coherent with Italy's growing need for and increasing dependence on immigrants:

Italy should have a new immigration law before summer, relaxing restrictions adopted by the previous centre-right government, Welfare Minister Paolo Ferrero said on Thursday.

Speaking after a meeting with local authorities and immigrant associations, he explained that his department, together with the interior ministry, had nearly finished drafting the bill. "The measure should start its passage through parliament in January and be finalized by spring," he said. The law would relax restrictions introduced by the government of former premier Silvio Berlusconi in 2002.

"There are many reasons for changing this old law," said Ferrero. "One of them is the long time it takes to issue residency permits [...] The waiting period can be endless". The 2002 law has also been criticized for the fact that only foreigners with an Italian work contract are allowed a residency permit. Residency permits last just two years and if immigrants lose their job before the expiry date they are required to leave the country.

Ferrero said that one of the most important ideas under consideration was doubling the residency permit's two-year duration. "Part of the idea is to reduce the amount of work involved, which is pointless if the person applying for the permit is legal and has all the necessary prerequisites. "Increasing the length of the permit will reduce the number of requests that need to be dealt with".

Other legislative changes under discussion include the introduction of a single asylum law and a points-based entry system to encourage managed migration. Proposals are also being drawn up to grant certain immigrants the vote and make it easier for them to gain Italian citizenship. Meanwhile another major change, involving the way residency permits are issued, is in the process of being implemented. This transfers authority to grant residency permits from the hands of the police to the control of local municipal authorities.

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