Ahead of tomorrow’s European Council meeting in Brussels, GUE/NGL MEPs used the Strasbourg plenary session to discuss the EU’s outsourcing of the refugees crisis to third countries as well as austerity policy.

GUE/NGL’s candidate for next month’s European Parliament presidency, Eleonora Forenza MEP, spoke on behalf of the group and the main theme of her speech concerned the refugee crisis:

“The Italian referendum brought down Matteo Renzi and he is one of the creators of the migration compact which will be discussed at the meeting.”

“The EU wants to strengthen cooperation with African states predicated on border control with five transition countries, and already a massive number of Eritreans have been arrested in Sudan,” she added.

“Numerous NGOs are talking about an agreement that is utterly shameful – shameful because it simply externalises the border control problems not least with Turkey.”

“Yet, this is an agreement that has been hailed as a success.”

“How can it be a success when the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights regularly finds violations of human rights being perpetrated?”

“How can an agreement with an authoritarian regime like Erdoğan be a success whilst HDP parliamentarians are being thrown into prison, not even allowed any sort of medical assistance or to exercise their democratic duties?”

“We must be welcoming. We must show solidarity. That means not leaving Italy alone. I don’t want any women or men to drown. But I also don’t want the idea of Europe to drown,” Forenza concluded.

Swedish MEP Malin Björk also expressed strong criticisms of the EU’s approach to refugees and migrants:

“The EU’s ‘nice’ words don’t match its actions. The Commission talks about respect and the EU as a guarantor for human rights yet turns a blind eye to Turkey becoming an authoritarian police state.”

“EU development aid is also being used to finance migration control. The so-called partnerships with five African countries is the equivalent of moving the EU borders to third countries and cooperation with oppressive governments,” she surmised.

For Takis Hadjigeorgiou MEP – Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s delegation to Turkey – used the opportunity to highlight the situation in Syria, from where the majority of refugees to Europe are coming from:

“We are all responsible and it is a heavy responsibility that we share for the terrible death factory that is Syria now.”

“We gave the Sahkarov Prize to the Yazidi women on Tuesday. Yet, what are we doing in Syria? We need to put our words into action,” said the Cypriot MEP.

Meanwhile, Spanish MEP Tania González Peñas urged EU leaders to listen to the youths who are fed up with the status quo:

“More and more people think Europe is the problem and not the solution.”

“Austerity is tearing families apart. We need to think of the future of our young people because of the policies which have made short-term and insecure jobs the norm rather than the exception,” she said.

Irish MEP Liadh Ní Riada also looked at unemployment and said more investment is needed:

“With no immediate investment being made available to create employment, the European Fund for Strategic Investments is yet another great failure with no significant results to be seen.”

“It’s not transparent and fails to assist those who are struggling to secure funds to invest in SMEs – nor does it assist in cooperatives and social enterprises as was promised,” she said.

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