With over 29,000 migrants who have died on their way to Europe since 2000, GUE/NGL has repeatedly called for a radical shift in migration and asylum policies that would focus on protection and saving migrants’ lives as a priority and not on building a stronger Fortress Europe.  One could have hoped that EU leaders, who had described  the 3rd October tragedy off  Lampedusa as a “wake-up call”, would have turned these words into the much needed radical shift of policies. 20 months on and after many more deaths at EU borders, the GUE/NGL strongly condemns the repressive measures against migrants decided by member states last night while they did not commit to anything meaningful on relocation and resettlement.

The Council’s weak proposal to relocate 40 000 migrants from Italy and Greece on a voluntary basis in the next two years will represent a drop in the ocean given the collapsed asylum reception systems and the humanitarian crisis both in Italy and Greece. The mere 20 000 resettlement places that will also be voluntary will mean people will still risk their lives trying to reach a safe place in Europe.

GUE/NGL is appalled by the increasing coercive measures used to prevent migrants from getting into the EU and returning most of them swiftly based on a European “safe country” list. In addition to the EUNAVFOR Med operation announced earlier this week, EU leaders agreed yesterday to put the core of their migration policies on swift return though the enhancement of a mandate to FRONTEX for return, forcible and swift registration, fingerprinting, expulsion, detention and increased readmission agreements.

GUE/NGL MEPs who last week visited Sicily and Lampedusa, or the future “hot spots” described by the Council, warn that in the current appalling reception conditions that they witnessed this would be breaching our Human Rights obligations, notably through the violence used for fingerprinting and the massive collective expulsions of all vulnerable people, given the traumas of their journey to Europe and the violence they experienced in Libya. 

GUE/NGL MEP Martina Anderson who participated in the delegation to Lampedusa and Sicily said: “All the women, men and children met by the delegation in Pozzallo and Lampedusa deserve protection after the hardships they endured, no matter what country they come from. Deporting them is inhumane and a crime. It is also unacceptable that people who do not want to be registered in EURODAC are being beaten up to force them to give their fingerprints. In the meantime, all EU leaders are aware of the failure of the Dublin Regulation and the current incapacity of first states of arrival to provide migrants with proper reception conditions and possibilities for integration in the future.”

GUE/NGL MEP Cornelia Ernst added: “It is appalling that the college of European heads of government would condone such blatant, massive breaches of human rights rather than take a decision on who will deal with how many out of the 40000 asylum applications. What is worse is that this number is already ridiculously low. And now with both the Commission and the Council promoting the use of violence against migrants, the overall situation of people arriving in Europe will deteriorate drastically.”

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