Pittella: Commission proposals a step forward. Now legal migration channels must be opened

Gianni Pittella speaking in plenary

Speaking after the European Commission put forward a series of measures on tackling the migration crisis, S&D Group President Gianni Pittella said:

“The first priority must be to save the lives of people drowning in the Mediterranean and tackle the scourge of people smuggling. The new proposals from the Commission are a positive step and build on the Migration Compacts and the External Investment Plan. Libya is not Turkey and the migration flows from sub-Saharan Africa cannot be compared in terms of numbers or root causes to the so-called ‘Balkan route’. The S&D Group therefore welcomes the efforts of the Commission and particularly High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, to support the Libyan authorities. In particular, through additional funding, patrol training and in ensuring human rights are protected.

 “The attention given in the Commission’s proposals to UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration, which are the only two international organisations present on Libyan soil, is to be welcomed. They need further support to help improve conditions in Libyan hosting centres and ensure that human rights, and especially women’s rights, are protected.”

“What is still missing in this strategy is providing safe and legal channels into Europe. In the light of the next Council summit in Malta, the S&D Group urges the EU Commission and Member States to put these in place. This could dramatically reduce the loss of lives and would allow us to better manage migratory flows. Member States must also get serious about resettling refugees fairly across Europe.