Pittella: A historic step. Juncker courageous. Member states' selfishness kept in check
Following today's presentation by the European Commission of a new EU agenda on migration, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament welcome the plan to strengthen EU countries' solidarity by redistributing quotas of migrants and refugees across the EU and to step up the fight against migrant smugglers.
S&D president Gianni Pittella MEP said:
"Europe is waking up. After a shameful delay, the EU Commission has finally taken a step forward on the way to creating a common European policy on migration, based on a mix of urgent short-term actions and a long-term plan to tackle the roots of the problems in Africa and Libya.
"Mr Juncker has shown his courage by triggering the emergency mechanism under art. 78.3 of the Treaty, and in so doing he has kept national governments in check by obliging them to go beyond national selfishness and to step-up to their responsibilities. Either solidarity is compulsory, or it's merely charity!
"That is why we welcome the proposal to set a binding distribution key and quotas of asylum seekers. As well as this we are satisfied with the proposal for a binding mechanism concerning the relocation programmes. This must become permanent. This means that the Dublin regulation has essentially been surpassed by events and now this anachronistic and ineffective regulation must be revised. We are also happy to hear that the Commission is working on a proposal for an EU-wide resettlement scheme. The introduction of the Hotspot approach is something absolutely revolutionary. Individual member states will no longer be left alone.
"These are genuine deeds, not just words. This is also the outcome of constant pressure applied by the S&D Group; a historic step which we are confident will garner the support of all Christian, liberal and progressive forces."
Birgit Sippel MEP, S&D spokesperson on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said:
"The introduction of a binding relocation mechanism and distribution key for both relocation and resettlement, as well as the new resettlement scheme, are the most progressive reforms in the new agenda. The European countries' leaders have now the chance to deliver and not just to mourn without taking action.
"However, these schemes don't give an answer to our demand for safe and legal avenues. They cannot prevent further tragedies in the Mediterranean as long as there will be thousands of people desperately fleeing poverty and wars at any risk. Therefore, the EU must move forward without being afraid, improve the Blue Card system and develop more legal and safe access options for migrants."
British Labour MEP Claude Moraes, chair of the European Parliament committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said:
"We urge the European governments to step-up to their responsibilities. Many emergencies and tragedies in the Mediterranean are the consequence of their lack of preparation and implementation of already existing policies passed by the European Parliament. In some EU countries, the transposition of the EU rules on asylum is still totally missing and the result is that, for example, Germany received over six times as many applicants for asylum in 2014 as the UK.
"The situation in Libya is of course a major concern for us and the success of these proposals will largely rely on how it will be possible to tackle human trafficking sailing from its shores".