The new right-wing government of Silvio Berlusconi has approved a package of tough new measures aimed at countering illegal immigration and crime. Some of the provisions extend to European Union (EU) citizens to target Romanian immigrants and ethnic Roma from EU countries.

The cabinet has used a combination of legislative instruments including a decree law which has immediate effect but must be converted into law by parliament within 60 days. Other measures are set out in a bill which must have the approval of parliament before it can become law. Others still are contained in legislative decrees, which still need final approval. The interior minister Roberto Maroni of the anti-immigrant Lega Nord, who is behind the law and order package, is confident that all the provisions will come into force by the end of July.

The decree law with immediate effect introduces among other things an increase by one third of the sentence for illegal immigrants found guilty of a crime, automatic expulsion for convicted immigrants sentenced to two years or more and a sentence of between six months and three years, a fine of between