The European Union must escalate its fight against human trafficking of refugees
Today in Strasbourg, the European Socialists and Democrats strongly called on the European Commission and Governments to respond accordingly to the recent escalation of human traffickers' criminal strategy, as during the last weeks a few ghost ships, filled with refugees locked aboard, were sent speeding towards the European coasts with no one at the helm.
S&D Group leader Gianni Pittella MEP said:
"Migration needs common, European rules to fight against the indiscriminate influx of people. We need common rules fully aligned with our European fundamental rights, not just in words but also in spirit and action, and backed by real political commitment and dedication; a true comprehensive and progressive response."
MEP Tanja Fajon, S&D Vice-president, said:
"Smuggling and trafficking irregular migrants for profit is one of the most appalling and horrendous organized criminal activities. It poses a serious risk to the lives of migrants and a challenge for the entire European Union as the number of people trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2014 again reached a new record of over 200,000.
"The European Commission and the member states must take necessary measures to tackle these crimes; this includes bringing individuals or groups involved in exploitation of vulnerable migrants before justice.
"Furthermore, it is necessary to set up wide-ranging information campaigns to raise awareness of the kinds of risks faced by those who put their lives into the hands of smugglers and those who are the victims of human trafficking. These crimes against humanity and human dignity must be uprooted and this has to be a wake-up call for all of us!"
MEP Birgit Sippel, S&D spokesperson on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, added:
"The fight against smugglers and human traffickers is not enough.
"The main problem is still that people in need of protection do not have any legal means to enter Europe. Instruments like resettlement and humanitarian visa are voluntarily and often not used. Some member states barely resettle a hand full! We welcome the pilot project of the European Commission in order to resettle 10.000 refugees all over Europe – but this again is only voluntarily. We need a genuinely integrated resettlement scheme with allocated reception quotas for each member state.
"Furthermore, the Commission has to come forward with additional proposals for the creation of more legal channels for refugees and economic migrants who want to come and work in Europe."