Tragedies such as the drowning of would-be migrants off Lampedusa must mark a turning point for Europe. They can be prevented only by EU-coordinated efforts inspired by solidarity and responsibility, said Parliament on Wednesday, with a view to the 24-25 October EU summit. MEPs reiterate that EU member states have a legal duty to assist migrants in distress at sea and note that legal entry into the EU is preferable to a more dangerous irregular sort.
The EU and its member states must do more to prevent further loss of life at sea, says the European Parliament. MEPs express deep sadness and regret at the tragic loss of life off Lampedusa, once again pointing the need for member states to abide by their international sea-rescue obligations in order to save the lives of people in danger.
"Lampedusa should be a turning point for Europe", Parliament says, adding that "the only way of preventing another tragedy is to adopt a coordinated approach based on solidarity and responsibility, with the support of common instruments". MEPs also stress that the relocation of asylum seekers "is one of the most concrete forms of solidarity and responsibility-sharing".
Parliament also urges third countries to abide by international law on saving lives at sea. Migration management agreements between the EU and the transit countries should be "a priority for the EU in the near future", as should assistance for the migrants’ countries of origin, it adds. MEPs call on the EU to continue to offer humanitarian, financial and political assistance in crisis areas in North Africa and the Middle East in order to tackle migration and humanitarian pressures at their root cause.
Don't punish rescuers
MEPs call for humanitarian assistance to survivors, and urge the EU and the member states to amend or review any laws to ensure that people cannot be punished for assisting migrants in distress at sea.
Step up search-and-rescue missions in the Mediterranean
Parliament backs European Commission proposals to deploy a search-and-rescue operation from Cyprus to Spain and its intention to establish a task force on migratory flows in the Mediterranean as "a first step towards a more ambitious approach". MEPs also ask the Council and Commission to consider establishing an EU coast guard.
"Legal entry into the EU is preferable to a more dangerous irregular entry, which could entail human trafficking risks and loss of life", MEPs stress.
Halt human traffickers and smugglers
Parliament calls for strong criminal penalties against anyone who facilitates human trafficking both into and across the EU and better coordination of EU means and resources, including those at the disposal of border management agency Frontex and Europol, in order to step up, together with third countries, the fight against criminal networks of human traffickers and smugglers.
More funds needed
Parliament asks for more funding for the European Asylum Support Office and Frontex to help member states to cope with humanitarian emergencies and mount sea rescue operations.
Procedure: non-legislative resolution