During a debate in the European Parliament on the ongoing situation in the Mediterranean Sea, where humanitarian NGOs are being criminalised for saving lives, S&D MEPs called on the new European Commission president to act quickly on her commitments to increase EU search and rescue operations, and fix the EU asylum.
S&D Group vice-president Miriam Dalli said:
“Ms von der Leyen promised a more sustainable approach for search and rescue, more support to member states who are under the most pressure, and reform of the Dublin System, under which asylum seekers must apply for protection in the first country they reach. She must now make these promises a reality by coming forward with a fund for search and rescue and clarity on rules to prevent humanitarian assistance being criminalised.
“What is happening in the Mediterranean sea is a disgrace and we cannot have a situation where certain national governments continue blocking increasing EU search and rescue missions and blocking reforms of the EU asylum system. Yesterday, a majority of our group voted in favour of Ursula von der Leyen as Commission president partly because of the commitments she gave us on fixing the EU asylum system. Now we want to see those promises being delivered.”
S&D Group spokesperson on civil liberties, justice and home affairs Birgit Sippel said:
“Hundreds of migrants are still dying in the Mediterranean every month. This is a tragedy and a stain on Europe’s claim to be a humanitarian force in the world. The number of deaths would be far higher if it was not for the work of NGOs like Sea Watch. However, rather than celebrate those putting themselves in danger to save others, they are being criminalised. The new European Commission president must act in her first 100 days to help break the deadlock in the European Council and reform the EU asylum system.
“Ms von der Leyen has made a host of commitments in the last few days: creating a sustainable EU migration and asylum system must be a priority.”