Pittella on migration: "EU governments need to take a long hard look in the mirror"
Speaking ahead of World Refugee Day on Saturday, S&D Group President Gianni Pittella has reiterated his call on national governments to agree on binding quotas to distribute refugees fairly across Europe at next week's European Council. He went further, labelling the current European response to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean "a disgrace" after a UN report showed that refugee numbers globally are at their highest level since 1945.
Speaking during his trip to China, Mr Pittella said:
"As numbers of refugees return to levels not seen since World War II, we must remind ourselves that it was once our own citizens fleeing the horrors of war and persecution to seek asylum. Europe's lack of solidarity over the crisis in the Mediterranean makes a joke of our claims of moral leadership in the world. Last year Canada, a country of 35 million, resettled 15,000 refugees meanwhile we, a continent of 500 million, cannot agree on a fair way of resettling just 40,000. It is a Europe-wide disgrace and EU governments ought to be taking a long hard look in the mirror."
"The S&D Group will do everything it can to fight the populists who seek to demonise refugees and pressure our governments who refuse to act out of political cowardice. If they cannot even agree on the Commission's proposals then what chance do we have of ever finding a sustainable and lasting solution? This week is the chance for Europe to regain credibility in the eyes of the world and show that we can have solidarity with each other and with those most in need."
Note for editors
International Refugee Day is held every year on June 20th. It was created in 2001 to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
A report released on Thursday from the UN agency for refugees showed that worldwide displacement was at the highest level ever recorded, with the number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 as high as 59.5 million.