Italy has been the main country for the number of arrivals since the so-called “refugee crisis” began, approximately in 2014. The Central Mediterranean corridor is the most transited route due to the political instability in Libya.
Between 2014 and April 2018, approximately 630.000 migrants landed on Italian coasts, most of them from Sub-Saharan countries. Although the legal framework of the Dublin Regulation provide that their asylum demand should be presented in the country of first entry, the final destination of the migratory project of many of them is not Italy. On the contrary, their social and kinship networks are often in other EU countries, such as France, UK or Germany. Moreover, the average time for examining an asylum application lodged in Italy (and giving a positive or negative answer) is two years, and the reception conditions may be bad in the heterogeneous and overburdened Italian reception system.
As a consequence, starting from 2014, northern Italian borders with France, Switzerland and Austria became increasingly transited by migrants who, after crossing the Mediterranean Sea, where carrying out a so-called “secondary movement” within the EU.
The struggle against the so-called “secondary movements”, or intra-EU movements, has become during the last years a central issue in the government of the French, Swiss and Austrian borders with Italy. These borders have been progressively “sealed” for non-EU citizens, without a regular residence permit in the EU, thus bringing to light the contradictions between Schengen and Dublin Agreements, that is to say, between the principle of freedom of movement and the lack of a unified system of asylum at EU level. In this sense, previous bilateral (and trilateral) agreement between States have been implemented, as well as systematic suspensions of the Schengen Convention in the French case.
REJREG (“Rejection regimes: an ethnographic study of the social life of intra-EU borders”) is a research project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement n. 792793.