The Union Cabinet on Wednesday chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the Ministry of External Affairs’ (MEA) proposal to sign and ratify the Migration and Mobility Agreement between India and Italy, the latest achievement in the ‘Melodi’ (a combined term for PM Modi and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni) era.
“The Agreement would enhance people-to-people contacts, foster mobility of students, skilled workers, business people and young professionals and strengthen cooperation on issues related to irregular migration between the two sides,” read an official release.
The India-Italy pact on migration and mobility would remain in force for a period of five years and will be automatically renewed for a similar successive period unless it is terminated by any participant. It includes mechanisms for post-study opportunities, internships, and professional training in the current Italian visa regime that assures an advantage for India under the existing labour mobility pathways as stipulated under the Flows Decree.
The agreement was signed on November 2 by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Antonio Tajani during the former’s four-day visit to Portugal and Italy that month. Italy has the third largest Indian community in Europe after the UK and the Netherlands, with a strength of 180,000.
What does the pact entail?
According to the official release, Indian students wishing to gather initial professional experience, after completing academic/vocational training in Italy may be granted temporary residence in Italy for up to 12 months. Additionally, the Italian side has detailed provisions related to professional training, extracurricular internships and curricular internships which allow Indian students/trainees to gain experience in Italian skill/training standards.
Italy has reserved a quota of 5,000, 6,000, and 7,000 non-seasonal Indian workers for 2023, 2024 and 2025 under the current Flows Decree. Furthermore, the Italian side has reserved a quota of 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 seasonal Indian workers for 2023, 2024 and 2025, with a total of 8,000 for seasonal workers.
Italy has offered incremental reserved quotas for both seasonal and non-seasonal workers from 2023-2025. The pact also formalises joint working on furthering mobility pathways between India and Italy through agreements on Youth Mobility and Facilitation of Recruitment of Indian qualified professionals in the healthcare and medical services sectors which will be discussed under the Joint Working Group (JWG).
Moreover, cooperation between the two parties in the fight against irregular migration has also been formalised through the agreement. It also provides a formal mechanism for its monitoring through a JWG which would meet periodically and oversee its implementation.
The JWG would share relevant information, evaluate the implementation of the agreement and discuss all appropriate proposals to support implementation as necessary.
India-Italy ties in ‘Melodi’ period
Bilateral relations between India and Italy have witnessed an upswing under the leadership of PM Modi and his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni since the latter’s India visit in March. The bilateral relationship between the two countries was elevated to a strategic partnership in March.
The two leaders also met during the high-level G20 Summit held in September in New Delhi as well as the COP28 Summit in Dubai last month. The 46-year-old Italian leader recently posted a selfie with PM Modi on her Instagram and X handle and captioned the post as, “Good friends at COP28,” with the hashtag ‘#Melodi’.
These bilateral relations have flourished after the India-Italy summit in 2020 where a total of 15 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed covering areas like energy, media and finance. Meloni has also pledged to further strengthen its relationship with India in the spheres of renewable energy, defence, hydrogen, IT, telecom, semiconductors and space.