Pittella: The migration crisis in the Western Balkans again shows the urgent need for an EU permanent mechanism
Following the conclusion of yesterday's leaders meeting in Brussels on the Western Balkans route, the president of the S&D Group in the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, stated:
"The unprecedented migration crisis requires unprecedented solidarity. A purely national approach is ineffective and counterproductive; this clearly applies to the Western Balkans too. These countries should closely cooperate with each other towards ensuring the stability and progress of the whole region.
"We welcome the prompt engagement demonstrated by Commission president Juncker, who put forward key operational measures in yesterday's summit jointly with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). We reiterate, however, the urgent need for the setup of a European permanent and binding redistribution mechanism.
"Additionally, the member states need to fully comply with the legal obligations under the Schengen agreement, whilst ensuring the respect of refugees' human rights. This is our red line.
"We support the approach of EP president Martin Schulz, as presented yesterday at the summit to the leaders, including a permanent exchange of information between countries on the Western Balkans route to keep communication channels open at all levels and thus to avoid unilateral or uncoordinated decisions. Furthermore, to do whatever is necessary to avoid sparking any tension or recrimination in an already unstable region. In addition, immediate solidarity to deliver emergency supplies to those in need; and finally sustainable and binding solidarity measures through Community institutions. These are the keys for ensuring an effective migration management in the region.
"Europe should not forget its responsibility vis-à-vis the Western Balkans and must support the humanitarian efforts of these countries through immediate financial assistance."
Tanja Fajon, S&D vice-president, said:
"I welcome the measures adopted at yesterday's leader's meeting, which are greatly needed to manage the flow of refugees in the Western Balkans. I am happy to see the 'permanent exchange of information' at the very top of the list of measures and I call on all actors involved to deal with this in the most urgent manner.
"What we witnessed in Slovenia over the past couple of days - neighbouring countries refusing to pass on exact information about refugees' flows and location of entry - is absolutely unacceptable! This is a common, European Union challenge which member states have to solve together, rather than passing the burden from one to another.
"Now is the time for a common and coordinated approach, showing real EU values such as solidarity and responsibility, and not a time to turn against each other. I urge all countries and their leaders present at yesterday's summit to start implementing these measures immediately and to make sure these measures do not become empty words on a piece of paper."