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The role of the EU External Action – the EU’s Foreign & Security Policy Service led by High Representative Federica Mogherini – at the onset of the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe has been assessed by MEPs at the European Parliament tonight.
During the debate, GUE/NGL MEP Marina Albiol was scathing in her analysis and denounced the conclusions reached as hypocritical:
“The report authored by MEPs from Spain’s PSOE and PP seek to rebrand the image of Europe away from being cruel and inhumane but it ends up doing quite the opposite. The report calls for safe and legal routes and humanitarian visas for migrant and refugees. At the same time, the report calls for deportation, the militarisation of the Mediterranean, NATO intervention and the outsourcing of borders.”
“A year on from the EU-Turkey agreement – which lead to over 5000 deaths in the Mediterranean – the EU is negotiating agreements with Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Nigeria to deport migrants and refugees while blackmailing them with humanitarian aid. The government of Spain is negotiating a similar agreement with Morocco to deport minors,” added Albiol.
Meanwhile, MEP Miguel Urbán pointed out that the EU-Turkey agreement spelled disaster for thousands of people stuck in desperate conditions on the Greek islands:
“We do not simply express ‘concern’ about the agreement between Turkey and the EU; we reject it completely and unambiguously.”
“There are now calls for NATO’s intervention to stem the flow of migrants. This ‘Fortress Europe’ approach is the political fuel that is giving rise to the far-right in Europe.”
“While thousands of people continue to die in the Mediterranean, the EU is criminalising the work of NGOs rescuing people at sea where they do not dare to go. The EU must change its 2002 directive that criminalises humanitarian aid. We refuse to become accomplices by act or omission to a ‘Fortress Europe’,” argued the Spanish MEP.
Swedish MEP Malin Björk highlighted a worrying shift away from development aid, in favour of militarisation:
“I am concerned about the way in which development policy is encompassing military means, detracting from the development budget.”
“We have the capacity to absorb more refugees but we must work together to make available safe and legal access to Europe. We must work with the UN to invest in the countries of origin to provide for a better future for people, including on health and education.”
In an opinion authored on behalf of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat calls for a coherent EU migrant and refugee policy:
“The first priority must be the establishment of legal means for migration, including economic migration and labour migration, regardless of their country of origin.”
“How can it be that 500,000 visas are issued each year to Ukrainian citizens – most of them from Poland and 75 per cent work visas – when we close the doors to people coming from war-torn countries?”
“Only objective human rights criteria will allow the EU to have a coherent policy based on facts and not on fantasies that fuel fear and rejection of the other,” Vergiat said.