Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Italy To Build Migrant Detention Centers In Albania

Nicholas Zalewski
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama pictured with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Source: Governo Italiano

In Italy’s never-ending quest for a solution for its migration crisis, Prime Minister Meloni has been working on a deal with Albania. The detention centers are tentatively scheduled to open by spring 2024 with a capacity of 3,000 migrants. Ideally, the centers will be able to process 36,000 migrants each year. Prime Minister Meloni stated that she already sent the plan to the European Commission which has not yet provided any criticism of the deal. Meloni believes the deal Albania and Italy can be utilized as a guide for other EU member states to create their own solutions.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama acknowledged that Italy is not the only EU member state that submitted such a proposal to host migrants in Albania. He did not state which ones, but this is an indication that the European Union is reaching a breaking point with illegal immigration. Prime Minister Rama values the relationship Albania has with Italy. Italy is a firm supporter in Albania’s bid to become an EU member state, which has now been stalled for years. Prime Minister Rama is also grateful that Italy allowed Albanians to immigrate to Italy in the 1990s. Currently, Albania receives the most remittances from the European Union, thanks to the Albanian diaspora that works in EU member states and sends money to family members living back home. Eurostat claims that 6.7 percent of the Albanian economy is remittances. Albanians living and working in Italy sent back 279 million euros to Albania, equal to 25 percent of all remittances sent in 2021. Italy is also Albania’s most important trade partner. All of these aspects likely are why Albania chose to work with Italy rather than other European Union member states which also sent proposals.

Migrant detention center was lit on fire by migrants trying to get out of the facility.
Source: News.it

Chaos On Lampedusa

This Move is likely inspired by Lampedusa’s detention center being overwhelmed with thousands of migrants in only 48 hours. Lampedusa is a small Sicilian island that has continued to see migrants arrive from Tunisia. Just this week, the island saw 600 migrants arrive in 24 hours. The move to process migrants elsewhere is likely a tactic by Meloni to keep the island from being overwhelmed. As Lampedusa only has a population of 6500 and is 110 kilometers from Tunisia, it makes the island very vulnerable to quickly becoming overwhelmed by a large influx of migrants. As Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia political party received the most votes from voters on the island, she is also under pressure to show that Lampedusa will not be abandoned. In 2009, migrants lit the detention center on fire. The harsh reality is that even though migrants reach Europe does not mean they will be allowed to stay.

Celebration commemorating the asylum deal between the United Kingdom and Rwanda.
Source: House of Lords Library

United Kingdom’s Failed Deal With Rwanda

While Meloni and Rama may be happy to work together, not everyone will be thrilled about this agreement between the two nations. Despite having left the European Union, some are concerned about the agreement between Italy and Albania and compare it to the United Kingdom and Rwanda. The United Kingdom and Rwanda created an agreement for the United Kingdom to also process asylum applications from Rwanda. However, the United Kingdom has not yet started to process asylum seekers in Rwanda. This is because the government must wait to see whether the judicial system will permit asylum seekers to be transported from the UK to Rwanda. Human rights groups are against this arrangement and point to Rwanda’s less than perfect human rights record.

If the United Kingdom is in charge of running the facilities themselves, the reputation of Rwanda on human rights becomes a moot point in the discussion. In December 2021, Denmark agreed to house 300 prisoners in Kosovo. The deal was approved as long as the prisoners would be treated in respect with Danish legislation and prison regulations. If the United Kingdom constructs and runs the facilities in Rwanda in accordance with United Kingdom legislation, then the nation should be able to process applications in Rwanda.

If the deal is ever allowed to go into effect, it would allegedly cost 206,000 dollars to send each asylum seeker to Rwanda. It is not yet clear how much it would cost for Italy to process migrants in Albania, but hopefully significantly less considering it would be transporting migrants only across the Adriatic Sea instead of flying them thousands of miles from the United Kingdom to Rwanda. The price alone should make people question how it is worth processing asylum seekers instead and how this cost has been calculated. If the price includes the cost of building facilities in Rwanda this is one thing, but if the cost includes only the cost of transporting asylum seekers this would make the attempt to process migrants in Rwanda questionable.


While Prime Minister Meloni and Prime Minister Rama may be willing to work together to allow Italy to have migrant detention centers in Albania, it is unclear if the deal will yet go into effect. The European Commission may not permit migrants to be sent to Albania which would doom the arrangement agreed upon by Meloni and Rama. It will also be interesting to see a breakdown of the cost this proposal and if Italy will be saving money by processing migrants in Albania or will actually spend more than it would if it continued to process all migrants in Italy. As Lampedusa cannot be continued to be overwhelmed with migrants arriving in a short time frame, this deal may be the solution that the island needs.

Please Read The Following For More Information:

Forgnone, Valeria. Italia-Albania. Meloni: “Centri italiani nel loro Paese”. Il Pd: “Un pericoloso pasticcio”. Ue: “L’Italia rispetti il diritto comunitario”. La Repubblica. 7 November 2023.

Melley, Brian. “UK Supreme Court weighs if it’s lawful for Britain to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda”. AP News. 8 October 2023.

Zalewski, Nicholas. Let’s Tune In To The EU’s periphery: Lampedusa Becomes Ground Zero In Migrant Crisis” The New Global Order. 23 September 2023.

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Let’s Tune In To The EU…

by Nicholas Zalewski time to read: 4 min