Procedure : 2019/2755(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0132/2019

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 23/10/2019 - 18
CRE 23/10/2019 - 18

Votes :

PV 24/10/2019 - 8.9
CRE 24/10/2019 - 8.9
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

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<TitreSuite>further to Questions for Oral Answer B9‑0052/2019 and B9‑0053/2019</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 136(5) of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>

<Titre>on search and rescue in the Mediterranean</Titre>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Lena Düpont</Depute>

<Commission>{PPE}on behalf of the PPE Group</Commission>



European Parliament resolution on search and rescue in the Mediterranean


The European Parliament,

 having regard to the United Nations Geneva Convention of 1951, in particular Article 33 thereof, the Protocol of 1967 relating to the Status of Refugees, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 (UNCLOS), the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974 (SOLAS) and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue of 1979 (SAR) as amended,

 having regard to the Joint Declaration of Intent on a controlled emergency procedure – Voluntary commitments by Member States for a predictable temporary solidarity mechanism of 23 September 2019 (by Germany, France, Italy and Malta in the presence of the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Commission),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 27 May 2015 establishing an EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling (2015-2020) (COM(2015)0285),

 having regard to its resolution of 18 May 2017 on making relocation happen[1],

 having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2018 on guidelines for Member States to prevent humanitarian assistance from being criminalised[2],

 having regard to the questions to the Council (O-000024/2019 – B9‑0052/2019) and the Commission (O-000025/2019 – B9‑0053/2019) on search and rescue in the Mediterranean,

 having regard to Rules 136(5) and 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas, according to International Organisation for Migration (IOM) figures, in 2019 so far some 933 people are believed to have died or have gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Europe; whereas, the death toll in the Mediterranean has been on the decline since 2015 (3 771 in 2015, 2 277 in 2018); whereas, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), despite the significant drop in arrivals (141 472 in 2018 as opposed to 1 032 408 in 2015), the route from Libya to Europe is still the migration route with the highest death toll in the world (646 deaths so far in 2019);

B. whereas saving lives is an act of solidarity with those at risk, but first and foremost a legal obligation under both international law, as Article 98 of UNCLOS – ratified by all Member States and the Union itself – requires States to render assistance to any person in distress at sea [3], and Union law;

C. whereas Article 19(2)(g) of UNCLOS, read in combination with Article 17 thereof, provides that a foreign ship has the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea of State parties to the Convention and that the passage of a foreign ship is to be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;

D. whereas the international law of the sea and maritime law require States to take preventive, early warning and response measures to reduce the risk of fatalities at sea, including by operating adequate and effective search and rescue services;

E. whereas all vessels operating in the Mediterranean, including when engaged in rescue operations, have the obligation to respect the relevant international conventions and other applicable rules;

F. whereas Frontex currently has operations Themis (which supports Italy in the Central Mediterranean), Poseidon (which supports Greece at the Greek sea borders with Turkey) and Indalo (which supports Spain in the Western Mediterranean) deployed at sea in the Mediterranean; whereas in 2018, 37 439 persons were saved with the direct involvement of Frontex assets in SAR cases; whereas there were 25 982 migrants have been saved to date in all joint SAR operations carried out by Frontex in 2019, of whom 1 582 were saved in the Central Mediterranean; whereas Frontex acknowledges that most of the SAR incidents occur outside the operational area of Joint Operation Themis;

G. whereas migrants have been a profitable business for smugglers and traffickers, who take advantage of search and rescue rules and nearby vessels in order to implement their business model; whereas it is important that the EU steps up the fight against smuggling;

H. whereas in June 2018, the Libyan authorities communicated the existence of a Libyan SAR area; whereas, according to the Commission, the Libyan Coast Guard continues to intercept or rescue a large number of persons at sea – around 15 000 in 2018;

1. Reiterates the obligation under the international law of the sea to assist persons in distress and calls on all Member States, individually and when acting as Member States of the EU or in relevant international fora, to fully live up to the standards of relevant international law and Union law; calls on all vessels conducting search and rescue operations to comply with instructions given in compliance with relevant international and Union law by the competent Rescue Coordination Centre and cooperate with the Member State authorities and Frontex in order to safeguard the safety of migrants;

2. Welcomes the outcome of the Ministerial Meeting in Malta regarding the development of a more predictable and efficient temporary solidarity mechanism and calls on all Member States to participate in this temporary mechanism;

3. Calls on Member States and Frontex to step up their efforts in support of search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean;

4. Calls on all actors in the Mediterranean to transmit information related to persons in distress at sea to the competent authorities for SAR;

5. Reiterates its urge to the Commission to adopt guidelines for Member States by the end of this year, specifying which forms of assistance should not be criminalised, in order to ensure greater consistency in the criminal regulation of facilitation across Member States and limit unwarranted criminalisation;

6. Calls on the Commission to evaluate which additional countries of transit and of origin could be relevant for closer cooperation when it comes to migration to the EU;

7. Calls on the Commission to continue monitoring human rights and to continue to provide training, equipment and support for capacity building in Libya;

8. Calls on the Commission to continue its cooperation with Libya with the view to clamping down on smuggler activity and reducing the number of irregular journeys across the Mediterranean, in addition to ensuring that the Libyan authorities respect human rights;

9. Calls on the Commission to evaluate the pull factors in the EU’s migration policy and to propose changes in order to reduce irregular economic migration from third countries to the EU;

10. Recalls that the EU’s migration policy must be based on a clear distinction between economic migrants and refugees, that legal pathways and humanitarian corridors can only be set up exclusively for refugees and that irregular economic migration to the EU must be significantly reduced;

11. Calls on the Commission to start working on a new, more sustainable, reliable and permanent approach to SAR, replacing existing ad hoc solutions and to provide material, financial and operational support to Member States for the purpose of better coordinating SAR operations;

12. Calls on the Commission to continue to further the EU’s cooperation with countries of origin and transit in order to fight irregular migration, migrant smuggling networks and related criminal activity and human trafficking, in addition to enhancing incentives to return;

13. Calls on the Commission to come up with proposals aimed at establishing common arrival centres at the EU’s external borders, where EU authorities can swiftly evaluate an individual’s right to asylum;

14. Calls on the Commission to include a sustainable and fair relocation mechanism for persons arriving by sea in its planned relaunch of the reform of asylum rules;

15. Calls on the future Commissioner(s) responsible for the matters dealt with herein to report back on the relevant developments to the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs by early 2020;

16. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, Frontex, the European Asylum Support Office, Europol, UNHCR, and the IOM.

[1] OJ C 307, 30.8.2018, p. 137.

[2] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0314.

[3] See also the obligations laid down in SOLAS 1974, SAR 1979 and the 1989 International Convention on Salvage.

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