The new EU Coast Guard must put our humane European values at its heart, say S&Ds
Today the all-party committee for home affairs and civil liberties in the European Parliament set its demands for the new European Border and Coast Guard proposed by the European Commission. The Socialists and Democrats welcome the creation of an agency to jointly manage the EU’s external borders and take pressure off some member states, but they also call for this agency to actively engage in search and rescue operations to help migrants risking their lives at sea.
MEP Péter Niedermüller, who is the S&D spokesperson on the EU Border and Coast Guard, said:
“Joint action to efficiently manage our borders is urgently needed, but we insist that the new agency must put European values at its heart. This is why we insist on making search and rescue a component part of European Integrated Border Management and want to give the agency a specific responsibility in this task.
“Only over the past weekend about 700 migrants are believed to have perished in the Mediterranean, and according to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR only last week about 15,000 migrants have left North Africa and are trying to reach Italy. We definitely need to build up EU capacity to face this humanitarian crisis with solidarity among member states and cooperation with our neighbours.
“The establishment of the new agency will be a positive step to help in better managing migration to the EU, it is not a "game-changer" in terms of the overall migration policy as much more remains to be done in terms of the Common European Asylum rules, relocation, resettlement and the beefing up of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).”
S&D spokesperson on civil liberties and home affairs Birgit Sippel said:
“We S&Ds have introduced amendments to the initial proposal in order to strengthen the protection of fundamental rights and respect for the principle of non-refoulement throughout the key articles of the text, so that no victim of persecution is rendered back to a dangerous situation.
“We have also requested that border guards are able to inform migrants about their rights to international protection and can refer them to the appropriate national authority or the EASO, since border guards are often the first point of contact for third-country nationals arriving at our EU borders.
“The new agency will have more power and competences than the current Frontex, so it should also be more accountable. We demand full transparency in its work and also the involvement of the Parliament in the appointment of the executive director.”
The European Parliament will now negotiate with the Commission and the EU Council on the basis of the position adopted today.