ECRE has today published a statement in reaction to EU leaders’ endorsement at the European Council meeting of the outcome of the Task Force on the Mediterranean, created after the shipwreck off the Lampedusa coast a few months ago. The Task Force had been created to “identify – based on the principles of prevention, protection and solidarity – priority actions for a more efficient short term use of European policies and tools”.
Earlier this month, the Commission-led Task Force, presented 38 measures which aimed at preventing more deaths at sea. ECRE highlights that the proposed actions intend to increase border controls, security measures to deter asylum seekers, refugees and migrants from reaching the EU and increase cooperation with third countries. ECRE stresses that the outcome of the Task Force was more than disappointing and that three months after the Lampedusa tragedy, the sense of urgency that existed in setting up that body seems to have disappeared in EU’s political discourse.
“ECRE is extremely disappointed that the EU Heads of State and Government have again emphasised an approach that has not worked in the past, will not work in the future and is likely to result in even more human suffering and loss of life”, the statement emphasises.
ECRE underlines that the EU cannot prevent migrants and refugees from undertaking dangerous journeys by sealing its borders, externalising its border controls in third countries and running in third countries information campaigns on the risks of irregular migration.
ECRE believes it is time for the EU to reshape its asylum and migration policies to focus on the saving of lives and access to protection in the EU. Some of the 38 measures identified by the Task Force can contribute to achieving that goal and should therefore be given immediate priority, such as increasing capacity for search and rescue operations at sea, reducing disincentives for commercial and fishing vessels to come to the assistance of people in distress, the use of protected entry procedures at EU embassies in third countries and the granting of humanitarian visas for protection reasonsand dramatically increasing the use of resettlement of refugees from third countries.