MEPs call for prevention of further loss of life in the Mediterranean

The European Parliament voted on a resolution to prevent further loss of life in the Mediterranean

One of the many: AFM soldiers carry the coffins of the unidentified migrants who died in the shipwreck last week • Photo: Ray Attard
One of the many: AFM soldiers carry the coffins of the unidentified migrants who died in the shipwreck last week • Photo: Ray Attard

 A resolution that was voted by Parliament  earlier today reveals that MEPs agreed that the EU should do everything possible to prevent further loss of life at sea through the expansion of the mandate of the “Triton” operation in the Mediterranean to include search and rescue operations at EU level among others.

During the plenary session, MEPs also called for a binding quota for distributing asylum seekers among all EU countries, bigger contributions to resettlement programmes, better cooperation with third countries and tougher measures against people smugglers.

The European Parliament has urged the EU and its member states to establish a clear mandate for Triton, "so as to expand its area of operation and increase its mandate for search and rescue operations at EU level". Triton, which is coordinated by the EU border agency Frontex currently extends only 30 nautical miles from the Italian coastline.

“The EU and its member states should ensure that search and rescue obligations are effectively fulfilled”, the resolution, which was approved by 449 votes to 130 with 93 abstentions, stressed.

Parliament has called calls for what it calls “a robust and permanent humanitarian European rescue operation, which, like Mare Nostrum, would operate on the high seas and to which all member states would contribute financially and with equipment and assets.”

MEPs further urged the EU to co-fund such an operation.

“EU countries should also continue to show solidarity and commitment by stepping up their contributions to the budgets and operations of Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO),” MEPs add.

Parliament also added that it would start to provide these agencies with the resources (human and equipment) needed to fulfil their obligations “through the EU budget and its relevant funds”.

Parliament added that it regretted that the 23rd April European Council had not pledged to set up a binding EU-wide solidarity mechanism to respond to the latest tragedies in the Mediterranean with “solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility”.

To this end, MEPs said that the European Commission should establish a "binding quota" for distributing asylum seekers among all EU countries and that member states should make full use of existing possibilities for issuing humanitarian visas and seriously consider a solidarity mechanism in the event of mass and sudden inflows of displaced persons.

“EU countries should make greater contributions to existing resettlement programmes, and Common European Asylum System rules should be rapidly and fully transposed into national law and implemented by all participating member states,” they added.

The MEPs also added that the EU should ensure more cooperation with third countries and fighting smugglers and that the resolution calls for closer coordination of EU and member state policies in tackling the root causes of migration and more cooperation with partner countries in the Middle East and Africa. They added that the resolution also calls for the strongest possible criminal sanctions against human trafficking and smuggling and urges member states and EU agencies to work more closely to detect and trace these criminal networks' funding and identify their modus operandi, so as to prevent them from making money by putting migrants’ lives at risk.

More in Europe