A broad consensus in the European Parliament on Monday called for a search and rescue operation in the EU to prevent mass deaths on the Mediterranean migrant route.
The three main parties – the European People’s Party (EPP), the center-left Socialists and Democrats and the liberal Renew – along with the progressive Greens and The Left supported the joint statement that will be voted on Thursday. This singular expression comes after a a shipwreck off the coast of Greece in June that killed hundreds and put a spotlight on the topic.
European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson last week called for cooperation between member states on search and rescue, warning that “it is a question of time” before a similar event takes place.
The draft in the Parliament calls for “the establishment of an EU search and rescue operation operated by the authorities of Member States and Frontex,” according to a document seen by POLITICO. The vague statement appeared to endorse Operation Sophia, an EU-led military operation to crack down on people-trafficking routes in the Mediterranean that ended in 2020 – although the EPP chief refused to confirm this.
Since the EPP recently joined forces with the far-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) in the run-up to next year’s European elections, its signing of a statement calling for greater unity comes unexpectedly, pouring cold water on the grand coalition talks. and ECR.
The parliamentary opinion also adopted the policy against non-governmental organizations, for example on the part of the right-wing Italian government, asking EU countries to “maintain their safe harbors close to NGO ships” and not to harm such groups. .
The document also calls on the Commission to ensure that immigration enforcement is in line with European and international law. Pushbacks are, and have been, the practice of forcing migrants across the border without being processed it has happened a lot with Greece center-right government.
EU parliamentarians urged the bloc to “find ways to apply the principles of transparency and accountability set out in EU law in the investigation of shipwrecks,” although they refused to mention the ongoing investigation in Greece into the shipwreck.
In addition, EPP leader Manfred Weber left the door open for an international investigation into the matter, which the Commission has repeatedly opposed. “This tragedy happened outside the Greek territory, so it is an international responsibility,” Weber told a press conference in Strasbourg on Tuesday, referring to recent “similar incidents” in Lampedusa, Italy, and Ceuta, Spain.
“The leftists in this house have not started an investigation [into these cases]. We need good management, not party political management,” he added.
Members of the European Parliament also used strong words about the actions of the coast guard in Libya, which was also monitored later. they shot an NGO ship to rescue people in distress on Friday. The statement accused Libyan authorities of “inhumane” detention of migrants and “torture, rape and indiscriminate killings.”
Eddy Wax contributed reporting.