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European Parliament President Martin Schulz opens September plenary session in Strasbourg©EU 2015 - EP 

Migrants who make it to Europe are setting it an historic test. Hundreds of thousands look to it for protection from war and persecution. The right response to this global challenge is not walls or deterrence, national selfishness or national measures, but a common asylum and refugee policy, President Schulz urged in his opening address. Plans for sharing asylum seekers among EU countries will be presented to Parliament on Wednesday by Commission President Juncker, he added.

It is sheer desperation that drives families with young children to cross the Mediterranean in rafts, camp in stations, squeeze through barbed wire or hide in refrigerated lorries, said Mr Schulz, noting that many lose their lives. 

These people are fleeing criminal or terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State, which not only destroyed irreplaceable cultural heritage in Palmyra, but beheaded its museum director in public, he said.

The real question that Europe must answer is whether it wants to be a “Union against all”, or a “Union of solidarity”, said Mr Schulz, urging politicians, in all their debates on figures, not to forget that migrants are people, who come to Europe because they share its values.  

The humanity shown by those who give exhausted migrants water, food, clothes and toys for their children, or help out in refugee centres, must guide our response to the challenge, so that the image of the drowned little boy Aylan Kurdi, which was burned into all our memories, will never again be repeated, he concluded. 


Agenda changes




A resolution was added to wind up the debate on Belarus.


Incoming/outgoing MEPs

Giovanni TOTI (EPP, IT), resigned as of 10 July to chair Regional Council of Liguria

Karoline GRASWANDER-HAINZ (S&D, AT), replaces Jörg LEICHTFRIED as of 9 July

Stefano MAULLU (EPP, IT), replaces Giovanni TOTI as of 13 July

Auke ZIJLSTRA (NA, NL), replaces Hans JANSEN as of 1 September

Nikolaos CHOUNTIS (EUL-NGL, EL), replaces Emmaniouil GLEZOS as of 20 July