A ten-point action plan has been revealed by the European Union in the wake of large-scale loss of life in The Mediterranean, promising to both increase control as well as rescue operations. The European Commission said the plan, approved by EU Foreign and Interior ministers at an emergency meeting in Luxembourg, will be presented at a summit today, Thursday the 23rd. Commenting, Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London said:
‘It could not be clearer that immediate action is needed to prevent further loss of life. We need an ongoing EU-funded programme for search and rescue of refugees because individual governments can no longer cry crocodile tears while at the same time refusing to support rescue missions. We must of course work to combat despicable smugglers, but acknowledge that desperate people take desperate measures. What worries me about this plan is the focus on smugglers and on return programmes. It looks as if we are just pandering to fears instead of really getting to the root of the problem.
‘No-one should be fooled, FRONTEX is border control, not a rescue operation. Unless Libya and Syria can experience prolonged stability people will continue to do what they have always done throughout history: try and reach safety. While the EU is not above criticism, it is our own Government that decides the level of support for the Italian Government.’
The European Parliament will have a co-decision role on any proposal to adapt the EU budget, and Greens call on all political groups to consider this in the ongoing negotiations on the 2016 EU budget and put pressure on the European Commission and EU governments.
Next week the plenary agenda of Parliament in Strasbourg will include a formal Oral Question ( for which Jean was a co-signatory) with Council and Commission statements on the situation, Jean concluded:
‘We need a common European approach based on solidarity and humanity. The overwhelming majority of refugees are not in the EU: if Germany had the same proportion of refugees as Lebanon, there would be more than 20 million to support. The real crisis here is for those seeking sanctuary, not for the EU.’