Speech at the Valletta Summit on Migration
Ladies and gentlemen,
The refugee crisis is a global challenge nation-states are not equipped to deal with on their own. Even less so if every government only focuses on the few miles the refugees make in their respective countries Getting together European and African leaders around one table gives us the opportunity to address every step in the long Odyssey of the refugees and come to a joint and sustainable strategy for dealing with the refugee crisis.
These days the attention of the world is focused on the Western Balkan route. Yet, as you all know well, the central Mediterranean route remains the main access for migrants coming from West Africa and the Horn of Africa - the most dangerous route, holding the sad record of the vast majority of reported fatalities.
The European Parliament wants to enhance the EU search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Fighting smugglers and traffickers all along the routes is crucial for saving lives. 85 % of all refugees who took the central Mediterranean route these last years embarked on a boat in Libya Therefore, partnerships with transit countries such as Libya are key for the EU in fighting smuggler and trafficker networks.
To the South of Libya lie the Sahel countries. The security situation in the region remains fragile. There, people leave their home because they lack a perspective for the future. With the Sahel Regional Action Plan for 2015-2020 the EU will help address the security vacuum in the region. But there is more to be done. Also in the framework of the Action Plan for the Horn of Africa. By boosting local economies through trade - for example though economic partnership agreements and through 'aid for trade' programmes - by investing in development and by enhancing good governance people will be enabled to stay where they want to be: at home.
One pillar of this policy is the EU Emergency Trust Fund which will help address the crises in the regions of the Sahel, Lake Chad, the Horn of Africa and the North of Africa. The European Union has so far committed 1.8 billion Euros and the European Parliament calls on the member states, to match the amount committed by the EU. Allow me do address a message directly to the European heads of states and government: please pledge national contributions still today.
Ladies and gentlemen,
the European Parliament wants to promote legal channels for migration and mobility from African countries. We and the Council are now very close to concluding negotiations on the conditions of entry and residence for non-EU students, researchers, trainees, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs. That is good news but Parliament is more ambitious: We want to move beyond a purely sectorial approach and move towards a true immigration law. We want to open ways of reaching Europe other than embarking on a dangerous journey on a rickety vessel and entrusting one's life to cynical human traffickers.
Part and parcel of any responsible asylum and migration policy are the return and reintegration of irregular migrants in their countries of origin. The European Parliament looks forward to concrete steps in this area including new agreements with the countries concerned.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope that today we will agree on a joint strategy. Our strategy can never be to fight the migrants, our strategy must be to fight the root causes of migration: poverty and conflict.
Thank you for your attention