Lampedusa: Council and Conservatives must stop hampering legal migration

S&Ds call for urgent joint EU action to stop deaths in the Mediterranean

The EU governments and conservative MEPs were strongly attacked today in Strasbourg for trying to take off the agenda the adoption of new EU measures to favour legal immigration and avoid further tragedies of desperate migrants trying to irregularly enter the EU. The criticisms came after the EPP members unsuccessfully tried to remove an amendment calling on the EU Commission and governments to improve legal access to the EU for migrants.

S&D vice-president Sylvie Guillaume said:

"The Lampedusa tragedy must be a wakeup call to the whole of the European Union.

"Today's EP resolution, strongly backed by the European Socialists and Democrats, explicitly calls on the EU Commission and Council to radically change approach on migration, decriminalising the provision of humanitarian assistance to migrants in distress, strengthening the international obligations for Member States on search and rescue at sea, and increasing the legal channels to the EU for migrants and asylum seekers.

"As long as the EU and the Member States do not adopt a comprehensive approach to interlinked migration issues, there will still be a growing number of people resorting to smugglers or criminal networks and risking their lives by embarking on increasingly dangerous roads. 

"It's about time that everyone shoulders their responsibilities and seeks a comprehensive EU migration policy, addressing both the symptoms and root causes, in order to avoid future tragedies such as those we have witnessed in the last few weeks".

S&D LIBE Coordinator Claude Moraes said:

"The tragic deaths off the coast of Lampedusa are too familiar a story. Each year hundreds, sometimes thousands, of lives are lost in the Mediterranean. Whilst many express outrage, few address the changes that need to be made.

"We need coordinated EU action at all levels if we are going to tackle the huge loss of life in the Mediterranean.  The Commission will be setting up a taskforce to tackle these reoccurring tragedies but the Parliament needs to be involved in this. 

"To really make a difference, policy changes have to happen immediately but political pressure is also essential to ensure that the changes are effective and provide the humanitarian assistance immediately when it is needed.  We also need to look at the push factors and why people are faced with little choice but to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean. 

"Human rights need to be at the centre of policy changes, without it, we will not be able to effectively address the human tragedies taking place off EU shores".