The Italian far-right’s refusal to allow the Aquarius humanitarian ship to dock brought the migrant crisis back into focus this morning as Left MEPs set out their vision ahead of the EU Council meeting later this month, demanding greater EU solidarity on a range of issues.

President Gabi Zimmer (DIE LINKE., Germany) said that common solidarity amongst member states is badly needed in overcoming the migrants and refugees crisis:

“Instead of showing common solidarity over the migrants’ crisis and by not agreeing on a common migration policy, the Council has strengthened the populist far-right. The EU has a common responsibility when it comes to the Aquarius that was blocked by Italy.”

“We thank Spain and the regional government in Corsica for offering to help. This case sadly shows that ad-hoc rescue operations are neither a sustainable EU policy nor will they lead to a responsible answer to worldwide migration. The Dublin Regulation must be reformed rather than building a ‘Fortress Europe’ where refugees and asylum seekers are sent back to the so-called ‘safe countries’.”

Zimmer also criticised the ‘dirty deals’ that the EU had concluded with third countries in recent years:

“In addition, the EU deals with Turkey and Libya remain more than problematic; almost 3000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean since those agreements. Furthermore, the proposals on reforming the Dublin Regulation by the Bulgarian presidency are clearly unworkable. Solidarity cannot be applied only in cases of emergency. We cannot simply wait until a government shows enough mercy to take in refugees.”

“The current crisis will persist unless member states are prepared to fairly distribute refugees in every state and to ensure that there will be solidarity in times of crisis,” she concluded.

Also tackling the same theme is Barbara Spinelli (Independent, Italy), who said:

“The moment to discuss European solidarity is not when boats with migrants in distress are arriving at our shores! The absolute priority is to offer them immediate access to the safest port. It’s illegal to not do so.”

“All the while, we should recognise that Italy is still the first member state registering the arrivals and that no reform of this iniquitous regulation is forthcoming. I urge the Italian government to endorse the reform proposed by the European Parliament: it undoubtedly has its shortcomings but it’s currently the best one we have,” she concluded.

With Brexit also high on the Summit agenda, MEP Martina Anderson (Sinn Féin, Ireland) condemns the UK government’s attitude to the negotiations:

“If Boris Johnson has his way then the border in Ireland will be hardened and strengthened.”

“Positive and constructive proposals accepted by the British government in December were rejected by them within days. Fantasy proposals are put forward instead.”

“Anyone who thinks you can negotiate with the Tory-DUP government are living in a fool’s paradise,” she said.

Finally, Neoklis Sylikiotis (AKEL, Cyprus) wants more to be done on sustainable public programmes to be discussed at the Council meeting:

“As GUE/NGL, we demand long-term public and social investments that will create decent jobs which come with fully safeguarded worker’s rights.”

“We demand investments to re-industrialise the regions that are in need, in order to promote social development and solidarity amongst the people,” he added.

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