MEP Comodini Cachia urges the EU to work closer together against human smuggling

Comodini Cachia calls for better coordination of actions by Member States against human smuggling

MEP Therese Comodini Cachia urges EU member states to work closer together in the battle against human smuggling
MEP Therese Comodini Cachia urges EU member states to work closer together in the battle against human smuggling

During a debate on the recent human smuggling incidents in the Mediterranean, held during a Plenary Session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, MEP for Malta Therese Comodini Cachia said: “Human smuggling attacks the dignity of those who fall victim to it, and threatens Member States.  We have a duty to stand up against this illicit and immoral business.”

Addressing the chamber in the presence of the European Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Comodini Cachia emphasised that Member states that are mostly affected lie in the European Union’s largest sea border, the Mediterranean.

Comodini Cachia said that the EU had so far steered a strategy for the Mediterranean which involved border management. “However, this strategy did not reduce the number of smuggling incidents enough; hence proving to be insufficient.”

“This debate should send a clear message towards coherent EU action to better fight human smuggling through concrete measures that go beyond what had been tried and failed,” she said

Comodini Cachia insisted that the EU needs to work harder on relations with third countries where smugglers obtain their vessels and their victims from, particularly in the light of recent cases of migrants smuggled in cargo ships from Turkey to Italy and abandoned at sea by the crew (the so-called ‘ghost ships’) and other incidents in the Mediterranean.

Latvian Secretary of State for European Affairs Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, whose country holds the current EU Presidency since the beginning of January, said:  “The recent events clearly show that we must step up our common action to combat the criminal organisations exploiting migrants”.

She joined Comodini Cachia and other MEPs in advocating ‘effective measures’ against the human smugglers.

“The Council looks forward to the proposals that the Commission will present on a European agenda for migration”, Lukaševica added.

Comodini Cachia said that sporadic action is ineffective and called for a better coordination amongst Member States.

“This will require a mechanism that brings together representatives from the policy, law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomatic areas ensuring a common approach to address the problem”.

In his conclusive statement, Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos supported these views and said: “If decisive and coordinated EU action is not taken, the flow [of migrants] will continue.  The European Commission is determined to take action.”

Avrampoulos joined Comodini Cachia in calling for more coordination and solidarity from EU member states. He also stressed the need for more cooperation with Turkey and African countries and urged Member States to step up their efforts to enforce EU asylum rules and resettle refugees.

During this debate, MEPs also discussed the new routes used by smugglers, the role of the EU border agency Frontex, legal channels of migration to the EU and a comprehensive approach to migration.

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