Metsola and Casa vote against EP resolution to step up search and rescue efforts

EPP votes against LIBE resolution calling on Brussels to financially and politically support search and rescue zones

The motion would have required member states to keep their ports open to NGO ships rescuing migrants at sea
The motion would have required member states to keep their ports open to NGO ships rescuing migrants at sea

Nationalist MEPs Roberta Metsola and David Casa were amongst 290 MEPs who voted against a European Parliament resolution aimed at stepping up search and rescue efforts in the Mediterranean.

The motion failed to pass on Thursday by just two votes: 288 in favour, 290 against and 36 members abstained. All Labour MEPs — Alex Agius Saliba, Josianne Cutajar, and Miriam Dalli — bar Alfred Sant who was not present, voted in favour of the resolution.

Among the 290 against the text, most were from the EPP, with Forza Italia, the right-wing nationalist parties including the far-right League, and the ECR with far-right Fratelli d’Italia, as well as some MEPs from Renew Europe.

All S&D members present apart from four voted in favour of the motion. Members of the Liberals, the GUE and the Greens voted in favour.

Former MEP Alternattiva Demokratika candidate Mina Tolu took to Facebook to criticise Metsola and Casa and said that the route from Libya to Europe is the migration route with the highest death toll in the world, especially since a reduction in search and rescue activities since 2015. 

“EPP decided to vote against a resolution which would have called on the Commission to support Search and Rescue financially and politically, and on the Council to put forward a position on fair and sustainable distribution mechanism, and solidarity between Member States. It is important to continue to fight for a search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean,” they wrote. 

The motion was tabled by Spanish S&D member Juan Fernando López Aguilar, who chairs the LIBE (civil liberties) commmittee and called for member states to step up efforts to save asylum seekers making the perilous crossing to Europe.

It called on all actors in the Mediterranean to proactively transmit information related to persons in distress at sea to the competent authorities for search and rescue and to alert any potential vessels in the vicinity to immediately engage in search and rescue operations.

The vote against such a motion is effectively a vote against a humanitarian intent to support migrants in the Mediterranean at risk of losing their lives at sea.

Alternative versions of the resolution, a bid to scupper the LIBE resolution, were tabled by the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, the far-right Identity and Democracy, and the centre-right EPP. All three resolutions failed to pass, with Casa and Metsola supporting the EPP resolution, and the Labour MEPs voting against, which would have prevented the LIBE resolution had it passed.

The EPP resolution was just four pages long and does not ask EU states to maintain their ports open to NGO vessels, and leaves out LIBE demands for EU states to "enhance proactive search and rescue operations".

The EPP resolution added a request to the European Commission to continue its cooperation with Libya despite allegations of human rights breaches.