The Malta Independent 27 May 2019, Monday

Metsola pushes for new method to help migration crisis: disembarkation locations outside EU

Wednesday, 13 June 2018, 18:09 Last update: about 13 months ago

Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola this afternoon pushed a novel idea to help improve the European migration crisis in the middle of a discussion on the issue following the Aquarius incident; disembarkation locations outside the European Union.

Metsola was speaking during a European Parliament discussion on 'humanitarian emergencies in the Mediterranean and solidarity in the EU' where MEPs spoke about immediate, mid-term and long-term goals.


Two days ago, 629 migrants on the Aquarius rescue ship, were stuck in international waters off the coast of Italy and Malta, both of which denied it entry. Spain ended up offering the Aquarius safe harbour. The situation was debated today in European Parliament.

Metsola's medium term proposal consisted of a disembarkation location in 'safe third countries outside the Union.'

"In the medium term we need to think outside the box and look seriously into having EU-run disembarkation locations in safe third countries outside the Union," she said. "With EU standards, where anyone saved from the dark sea can be disembarked immediately, rescued, vetted, processed in full recognition of their rights - by EASO for example - and either returned or resetlled. We have the money to do it and we must find the will to do it."

Speaking at the beginning of parliament, President Antonio Tajani emphasised that "this is about the whole of the European Union."

"The whole of the EU is at risk," he said. "Single member states will not handle this alone. We need a short, mid and long-term solution." Tajani reiterated the short-term plans as stoping migratory flows, the mid-term plans as improving conversation with Libyan government and the long-term plan as increasing the budget and long-term investment in Africa. "We need a genuine solution for a historical problem," he said.


'Salivini is a sign of the racism growing in the EU' - says Italian MEP

Many Italian MEPs who were present at the discussion defended Interior Minister Matteo Salivini's decision not to allow the boat to harbour in Italy.  "Let's not have double standards," said MEP Ignazio Carrao from Movimento 5 Stelle; "Italy has been left alone by other member states and had to address a continent that is on the move."

MEP Mara Bizzotto added that "Italy has been tricked on immigration for so many years."  MEP Laura Ferrara stated that the Aquarius incident shows that Italy "has been left to its own devices."

MEP Barbara Spinelli commented that Malta is "not involved in the SAR reforms and does not seem to be fulfilling its obligations."

However, MEP ELeonora Forenza Lista Tsipras from L'Altra Europa, in an impassioned speech, claimed that 'Salvini is a sign of racism that is growing in the European Union.'


Member states need to act 'in solidarity'

There seemed to be a general agreement that the European Union needs to act on the issue in solidarity and not "lie on the shoulders of just a few member states."  Addressing the problem in Africa, at source was also generally agreed on by the members of parliament.

MEP Javier Nart stated that without solving the issue at base, help by the EU is only "philantropical" and merely an "aesthetic approach."

Safe routes to lead the migrants to Europe was also brought up several times. "We need to open free and safe routes to Europe or else Italy will be the only country dealing with this problem," said MEP Elly Schlein.


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