Declaration of the Chairmen of the ALDE, EPP and S&D Groups on migration ahead of the EU Summit
We cannot remain silent in the face of recurring tragedies in the Mediterranean. We want a European solution to what we consider a European problem, involving all the Member States that have exclusive competence on external borders, all EU Institutions and all EU instruments and agencies. This solution should be based on solidarity (between Member States but also with third countries) and based on a holistic approach that takes into account all the dimensions of the problem.
1. Saving lives at sea
The EU must ensure that Member States conduct adequate search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean coordinated at EU level through Frontex (Triton and Poseidon Operations). Frontex must be able to operate in high seas (which is not the case with the current Triton Operation, but was the case for the Italian Mare Nostrum Operation). Frontex needs more financial resources and assets to fulfil its mandate. For the moment, Member States’ contributions to Frontex are not mandatory. The Member States must show greater solidarity by providing ships and human resources for search and rescue operations.
2. Providing temporary protection
Frontex has said that between half a million and one million people might try to cross the Mediterranean in the coming months. To deal with this mass inflow of people who have had to leave their country of origin and are momentarily unable to return under safe conditions, urgent consideration must be given to all options. These options include a binding mechanism for solidarity, increased use of humanitarian visas, an emergency relocation mechanism, and the possible triggering of the Temporary Protection Directive (2001/55/EC) which was adopted to deal with mass inflows of displaced persons, adopted at the time of the Kosovo crisis.*
*Note to Editors: the European Union has never implemented the provisions of the Temporary Protection Directive because the conditions for its triggering (massive inflow) were not considered as being met. In 2013, the EP asked for the application of the Temporary Protection Directive to address the Syrian crisis. The EPP, S&D, ALDE, Greens and GUE Groups supported this request.
3. Effectively fighting against human traffickers and smuggler networks of migrants in cooperation with third countries. Member States should ensure that their authorities work closely with EUROPOL, Frontex, EASO (European Asylum Support Office) and EUROJUST to fight against human traffickers and criminal networks of migrant smugglers and to detect and trace their funding. Member States should also work closely with third countries, in particular those surrounding Libya, on these matters.
4. Consideration should be given as to how asylum applications can be dealt with more quickly, including examining the feasibility of processing asylum applications in third countries.