The ‘Arab Spring’ and the Extraordinary Influx of People who Arrived in Italy from North Africa

In: European Journal of Migration and Law
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  • 1 Professor of European Union Law, Faculty of Law, University of Milan, Milan, Italy E-mail: Research Fellow, European Union Law, Faculty of Law, University of Milan, Milan Italy, E-mail:

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The ‘Arab spring’ which spread in early 2011 and the consequent exceptional influx of people that arrived on the Italian coasts from North Africa put the national reception and asylum systems under particular pressure, also raising the debate on the status to be attributed to these people. Faced with a situation out of the ordinary, Italy immediately addressed a request for help to the European Union, which has revealed the difference of views and mistrust existing between Member States in relation to these issues. This episode also calls into question the scope and effectiveness of the EU migration management framework, particularly in case of strong and unexpected pressure, and its implementation in a true spirit of solidarity.

  • 3)

    From 1 August 2008 to July 31, 2009, 29,076 people have reached the Italian coasts; from 1 August 2009 to July 31, 2010, only 3499, with a decrease of 88%. Ministry of the Interior, 9.8.2010. available at: As the UNHCR has noted, the reduction of applications for asylum and international protection in Italy in 2009 (from 30,492 applications in 2008 to 17,603 requests in 2009), compared with a substantial stability in Europe, may be due to the restrictive policies implemented in the Channel of Sicily and the drastic reduction in arrivals by sea. See: UNHCR, Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries 2010, Geneva 2011.

  • 47)

    S/RES/1970 (2011) of 26 Febuary 2011 e S/RES/1973 (2011) of 17 March 2011.

  • 50)

    See in particular: N. Ronzitti, ‘Che fare del Trattato con la Libia?’, Affari Internazionali, 28 febbraio 2011, pubblicato su: articolo.asp?ID=1679.

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  • 64)

    COM(2011) 248 final, p. 6.

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