The summer of 2018 will be remembered for the steep rise of deaths at sea in the central Mediterranean migrant route and a steep decline in the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers in the EU.
According to a report by Amnesty International released yesterday, the EU is to be blamed for the deaths of 721 people at sea in June and July this year. The closure of harbours by Italy has led to a disruption of patrolling and rescue operations, including EU missions and operations, and the European Union cannot tolerate this further, S&D Group president Udo Bullman said ahead of a discussion next week by the EU Member States that will focus on combating refugee smuggling and preventing loss of lives in the Mediterranean.
Shifting responsibility or doing nothing is no longer an option, said Bullman, who added that predictable, clear, and cooperative arrangements needed to be accepted by all actors involved, including every EU Member State, as well as with Europe’s African partners and NGOs.
“We need rules on search and rescue and disembarkation that will lead to accepted areas in the Mediterranean accompanied by EU support measures at sea. NGO vessels must not be stopped from operating in this framework. The EU has a role to play and the European Commission and EEAS have put proposals on the table that all institutions need to discuss,” said Bullman, before adding that legal migration must get back into the EU migration debate.
He stressed that Brussels needs to control regular migration pathways, based on the needs of national labour markets.
“This is not about imposing solutions in exchange for financial support. It is not about a transactional or conditional arrangement. It is about addressing common challenges in partnership. Supporting investment in Africa, in education, enterprise creation and democracy is an investment in global and EU resilience and security. This is a collective responsibility which the EU must accept if it is to be considered a solid global power.”