Procedure : 2015/2660(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0381/2015

Texts tabled :


Debates :

Votes :

PV 29/04/2015 - 10.67
CRE 29/04/2015 - 10.67
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

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to wind up the debate on the statements by the European Council and the Commission

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the report of the extraordinary European Council (23 April 2015) - Latest tragedies in the Mediterranean and EU migration and asylum policies (2015/2660(RSP))

Barbara Spinelli, Cornelia Ernst, Marina Albiol Guzmán, Martina Anderson, Malin Björk, Kostas Chrysogonos, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Eleonora Forenza, Tania González Peñas, Takis Hadjigeorgiou, Pablo Iglesias, Patrick Le Hyaric, Younous Omarjee, Curzio Maltese, Marisa Matias, Lola Sánchez Caldentey, Neoklis Sylikiotis, Estefanía Torres Martínez, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Stelios Kouloglou, Sofia Sakorafa, Kostadinka Kuneva, Emmanouil Glezos on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

European Parliament resolution on the Report of the extraordinary European Council (23 April 2015) - Latest tragedies in the Mediterranean and EU migration and asylum policies (2015/2660(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–       having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

–       having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–       having regard to the Geneva Convention of 1951 and the additional protocol thereto,

–       having regard to its resolution of 9 October 2013 on EU and Member State measures to tackle the flow of refugees as a result of the conflict in Syria(1),

–       having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2013 on migratory flows in the Mediterranean, with particular attention to the tragic events off Lampedusa(2),

–       having regard to the debates held, since the beginning of the current legislature, in the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on 22 July 2014 on the Implementation of the Communication on the Work of the Task Force Mediterranean; on 4 September 2014 on Frontex Activities in the Mediterranean and on the Task Force Mediterranean; on 24 September 2014 on the Commission 5th Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum (2013); on EASO Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union (2013); on JOT Mare on 21 April 2014,

–       having regard to the annual reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, in particular the report, published in April 2013, on the management of the EU’s external borders and its impact on the human rights of migrants, and the report published in April 2014, on labour exploitation of migrants,

–       having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2014 on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration(3),

–       having regard to the 10-point action plan proposed by the Commission ahead of the extraordinary European Council of 23 April 2015,

–       having regard to President Juncker’s statement at the extraordinary European Council that: ‘The first priority is to save human lives. The urgency is immediate and we will have to step up our resources to save lives’,

–       having regard to the speech by Martin Schultz, President of the European Parliament, at the extraordinary summit of 23 April 2015,

–       having regard to the European Council statement of 23 April 2015,

–       having regard to the declaration of Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN of 26 April 2015 to the newspaper La Stampa stating that ‘There is no military solution to the human tragedy playing out in the Mediterranean,’ and that ‘it is crucial that we take a holistic approach that looks at the root causes, at security and the human rights of migrants and refugees, and have legal and regulated immigration networks’,

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas more than 1 554 migrants have died since the beginning of 2015 according to the International Organisation of Migration and many more are missing; whereas the drowning of more than 800 migrants on 19 April 2015 constitutes the biggest tragedy in the Mediterranean since World War II;

B.     whereas more than 30 000 persons have died at sea in the past twenty years, which underlines the need to do everything possible to save the lives of people in danger and the need for Member States to abide by their rescue operations at sea according to International Maritime Law;

C.     whereas the ‘Mare Nostrum’ patrol, rescue and surveillance operation launched by Italy to enhance the humanitarian rescue activities in the Mediterranean, has rescued 150 810 migrants over its 364 days of existence; whereas the Italian Government has ended its Mare Nostrum operation, using the justification that it constituted a ‘pull factor’ by encouraging migrants and smugglers to attempt the sea crossing, a justification totally disproved by the facts; whereas no search and rescue operation of the same size has replaced Mare Nostrum since then owing to a lack of solidarity among Member States of the European Union, which have not been living up to their responsibilities; whereas the end of Mare Nostrum meant the end of large boats solely devoted to search and rescue being stationed on the high seas off the Libyan coast where most refugee boats get into distress;

D.     whereas the joint operation ‘Triton’ coordinated by Frontex, which became fully operational on 1 November 2014 has border surveillance and not search and rescue as its mandate; whereas Triton assets have been used for search and rescue under the coordination of the Italian Search and Rescue Coordination Centre, which has led to a complaint by Frontex about the Italian coast guard using its resources on the high seas; whereas tripling the budget of Triton, as was decided by the European Council on Thursday 24 April 2015, will not reduce the number of migrants dying at sea given Frontex’s mandate, the type of equipment in use and the current 30-mile limit of the operational area;

E.     whereas the possibilities for people in need of protection to legally enter the EU are very limited; whereas estimates suggest that 90% of asylum seekers actually enter the EU in an irregular manner; whereas the number of Schengen visa granted to Syrian nationals has dramatically dropped in the course of the Syrian war, from 30 000 in 2010 to almost zero in 2013;

F.     whereas the neighbouring states of Syria, according to UNHCR estimates host an estimated 3.9 million Syrian refugees; whereas EU Member States have taken only 37 000 Syrian refugees via the resettlement programme of the UNHCR, while UNHCR is calling for 10% of Syrian refugees to be resettled (370 000) and is urgently looking for at least 130 000 resettlement places for refugees with special protection needs; whereas 13 Member States have so far not resettled a single refugee;

G.     whereas the EU and its Member States contribute to nurturing the criminal and dangerous business of human smuggling by building fences and increasingly sealing off their external borders against migrants and refugees, without providing possibilities for safe and legal access to the EU; whereas the EU and its Member States are therefore failing to deliver an adequate response to the deaths in the Mediterranean and the refugee crisis in our neighbourhood,

H.     whereas on the margins of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) of 12 March 2015 the Interior Ministers of France, Germany and Spain as well as the European Commission discussed a proposal by Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano to outsource search and rescue and maritime control of EU borders to countries such as Egypt or Tunisia who would then bring the rescued migrants to their shores; whereas this proposal is aimed at producing a real deterrent effect so that fewer migrants would be ready to put their lives at risk to reach Europe’s shores; whereas at the JHA Council Interior Ministers discussed the possibility of setting up refugee camps in Northern Africa and the possibility of processing asylum applications in these camps;

1.      Pays tribute to the men, women and children who have died over the years in their attempt to reach a safe place in Europe and expresses its sincere condolences, solidarity and support to the families of the victims; calls on the EU and Member States to do their utmost to identify the bodies, missing persons and to inform their relatives;

2.      Recognises the need to operate a radical and immediate shift in migration and asylum policies; condemns in this regard the European Council statement of 23 April 2015 that has instead emphasised the strengthening of the fortress of Europe through repressive measures and by treating migrants as if they were a threat instead of taking immediate action to save lives;

3.      Recalls that the EU and its Members States have a responsibility to refugees and immigrants who are escaping from war, chaos, economic misery, hunger and death and who are suffering because of global neoliberal economic policies;

4.      Condemns the decision to triple the FRONTEX Triton operation budget, which was presented with extreme hypocrisy in the statement of the European Council, as a search and rescue measure; recalls in this regard FRONTEX Director statement to The Guardian on the eve of the extraordinary summit that Triton cannot be a proactive search-and-rescue operation as this is not in FRONTEX’s mandate, a declaration not contradicted by the final statement of the European Council of 23 April 2015; warns in this regard the Commission and the Council that Parliament will reject the 2016 budget in its role as co-legislator if it does not include a specific search and rescue provision, as well as rejecting any provision of additional EU funds for 2015 if they are not exclusively devoted to search and rescue and humanitarian assistance in order to save lives; calls for the suppression of the FRONTEX agency and the transfer of its budget on measures aimed at saving lives, including search and rescue, relocation and resettlement;

5.      Notes the absence of consensus among Member States on the needed political shift to address the deaths in the Mediterranean and finds it unacceptable that governments continue to blame each other for lack of action; calls therefore for a coalition of willing Member States prepared to take the lead to put in place a multinational search and rescue operation to save lives, and to develop mechanisms for increased solidarity and mutual support for refugee reception, including the use of EU funds; calls for enough Members States who are prepared to cooperate in order to activate the enhanced cooperation procedure to achieve these goals;

6.      Welcomes the provision of ships as pledged by some Member States at the Council meeting of 23 April 2015 which would be solely devoted to search and rescue on the high seas and urges other Member States to provide equipment including boats that can be stationed on the high seas which would be solely devoted to search and rescue in order to carry out an enhanced Mare Nostrum that would be a robust multi-national European search and rescue operation spearheaded by those countries that would be prepared to take action that would focus solely on saving lives;

7.      Condemns the decision of the European Council to concentrate all effective efforts, including the use of the military on the fight against smugglers and the destruction of their vessels along the coasts of Libya and other North African countries and calls on the EU and Member States not to engage in any CSDP civil-military operations in this regard;

8.      Warns of the potential impact of the Council proposal ‘to use EUROPOL to detect and request removal of internet content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees, in accordance with national constitutions’ as it might also be used to hamper internet communication exchange among migrants and with migrant support and solidarity communities, which have in the last months helped to save thousands of life; calls for this concern to be taken account of if such action were undertaken by Europol and/or other authorities;

9.      Condemns the absence of any proposals to ensure safe and legal access to the EU for both asylum seekers and economic migrants, considering the extreme difficulty to separate plight from wars, from dictatorial regimes or militias and from economic disaster, and calls for ambitious proposals in this regard;

10.    Calls for humanitarian visas to be issued immediately to asylum seekers at the embassies and consular offices of Member States as well as the introduction of a mandatory resettlement programme at EU level instead of the weak voluntary resettlement programme proposed by the Council;

11.    Calls on the Commission and on the Member States to immediately activate the Temporary Protection Directive (Directive 2001/55/EC) in light of the current mass influx of refugees;

12.    Condemns the vagueness of the commitment to increase emergency aid to frontline Member States; calls urgently on the Commission and on the Member States to present a more ambitious and concrete proposal in terms of emergency aid;

13.    Condemns the reluctance of the Council to commit to emergency relocation between all Member States; calls on the Commission and Member States to immediately initiate a pilot relocation programme for Syrian and Eritrean refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection countries initially targeting Syrians as well as Eritreans rescued at sea and disembarked in Greece and Italy, according to UNHCR proposals to address current and future arrivals of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants by sea to Europe; calls also the Commission and the Member States to examine the possibility of mutual recognition of asylum decisions;

14.    Calls on the Commission to immediately suspend the Dublin Regulation and to propose without delay radical alternatives to this regulation that fails to ensure effective access to asylum;

15.    Stresses the need for a rapid and full transposition and effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) by all participating Member States; calls on the Member States in their transposition to adopt higher standards than the CEAS;

16.    Condemns the Council decision to move towards an acceleration of returns as this will endanger the right to a fair assessment of applications for international protection; recalls that no country in the world can be considered as safe and that every person applying for asylum should have his/her application assessed individually;

17.    Condemns the detention of migrants and calls for the suppression of detention centres; supports efforts made in this direction in some Member States and calls for alternatives to detention;

18.    Calls on the Member States to comply with the international principle of non-refoulement through deeds and not by words alone;

19.    Calls on the Commission and on the Member States to immediately suspend cooperation with third countries aimed at preventing migrants and refugees from reaching a safe place in Europe and improving border control in countries such as Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Egypt from which refugees are fleeing and to suspend the Khartoum and Rabat process; stresses the need in this regard to suspend any financial assistance to the Egyptian and Eritrean regime in light of UN and NGO reports on human rights abuses;

20.    Rejects proposals by Member States to set up European asylum centres in third countries and to involve Northern African countries in European search and rescue with the aim of intercepting refugees and bringing them back to African shores; calls on the Commission in this regard to provide Parliament with an evaluation of the conformity of these proposals with international law, in particular the Geneva Convention, and with other practical and legal obstacles to the implementation of these proposals;

21.    Calls on the Commission to develop and submit an ambitious EU Agenda on Migration based on a holistic and common approach and solidarity in full respect of fundamental rights; calls in this regard on the Commission to include ambitious proposals for safe and legal access, relocation, resettlement and search and rescue;

22.    Calls on the Commission to put an end to all policies that are at the root of migration flows, including its role in global economic policies, Common Agricultural Policy in relation to third countries and free trade agreements;

23.    Calls on the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and on the Member States to re-evaluate the geopolitical and global economic roots of the mass exodus from the arc of instability stretching from Sub-Saharan Africa through the Mediterranean to South Asia and to recognise the responsibility of the EU, NATO and Member States for the permanent state of war and chaos in these regions; states in this regard that the stepping up of cooperation with Turkey as announced by the Council in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq cannot be called a politically and democratically viable solution;

24.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the presidents of the parliaments of the Member States.


Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0414.


Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0448.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0105.

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