MEPs call for a comprehensive EU approach to migration and more effort to prevent further loss of life at sea in a resolution passed on Wednesday. Parliament asks the civil liberties committee to assess the various policies at stake, draw up a set of recommendations and report back to plenary with a "strategic initiative report" before the end of 2015. At least 3 072 people died in the Mediterranean Sea in the first nine months of this year.
The EU should assume its fair share of responsibility and solidarity towards the member states that receive most refugees and asylum seekers "in either absolute or proportional terms", MEPs say, recalling their obligations under the EU Treaties. Solidarity also entails "making sufficient contributions" to the budgets and operations of the EU border agency Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), stresses the resolution. Search and rescue obligations should also be "effectively fulfilled" and "properly funded in the medium and long term", says Parliament. An analysis of how home affairs funds are spent should also be carried out.
Addressing legal and irregular migration
The EU should ensure safe and legal access to the EU asylum system, says the resolution, and explore legal migration policies. Regarding irregular migration, MEPs propose the swift processing, in collaboration with non-EU countries of transit and origin, and return of "those who do not qualify for asylum and protection in the EU, ensuring that resources are best used for those who require protection". Voluntary return policies should be encouraged and the protection of migrants' rights guaranteed, adds the text.
The role of regional protection, resettlement and returns policies, including migration management agreements, should be clarified in order to address the root causes of migration, MEPs say. They stress the need to examine cooperation strategies with third countries and the need for those countries to respect fundamental rights and ensure the protection of refugees.
Tackling smugglers and human traffickers
MEPs call on member states to impose tough criminal penalties against human trafficking and smuggling, and on individuals or groups exploiting vulnerable migrants in the EU.
Debate on the Khartoum Process
MEPs hold a debate on Wednesday evening on the new “Khartoum Process”, in which the EU, Horn of Africa countries and irregular migration transit countries discuss human trafficking and smuggling. These talks, opened by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini on 28 November, launched an “EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative” which aims to provide a political framework for migration measures in the coming years.
Procedure: non-binding resolution