Following on from the two-day European Council meeting in Brussels on migration, security and defence, and Brexit, GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer has issued the following statement.

With regards to migration and the case of Libya – whose coastguards have been described by EU Council President Donald Tusk as ‘allies’ this week – Zimmer said:

“Instead of urgently trying to find safe and legal ways for the EU to help those in need, the heads of government are pinning their hopes on the Libyan coastguard to keep refugees out of the EU.”

“Every euro we give to Libya benefits the militias which already run the coastguards and detention centres for refugees. The EU is therefore co-financing the torture, rape and slavery which are carried out systematically by these militias.”

“The Council still doesn’t want a proactive EU search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean which would prevent further deaths. More than 1700 children, women and men have already drowned this year – and that is still not enough for EU governments to comply with their moral and human rights commitments. Instead, the EU is leaving the sea rescue missions to volunteers and poorly-funded NGOs who risk their lives by helping these migrants.”

As part of the solution to the crisis, Zimmer believes:

“We need a reform of the Dublin Regulation so that the responsibilities for asylum seekers are not left solely to the first country in which they arrive.”

“This system must be based on genuine solidarity and shared responsibilities amongst member states. Refugees and migrants must be relocated fairly to all member states to help countries like Greece and Italy. No member state can shirk this responsibility with feeble excuses,” argued Zimmer.

On the issue of security and defence policies, the German MEP utterly rejects the militarisation of the bloc and the use of public money to help fund the arms industry:

“We reject the proposal for public funds from the economic stimulus package to be spent on European military and surveillance cooperation, and the fact that this money would go to military-industrial corporations.”

“We are against strengthening the Common Security and Defence Policy. Rearmament does not create more security. Rather, it creates insecurity, confrontation and conflict. Instead of creating a military fund, the money should be urgently invested in social and sustainable development – especially in southern Europe.”

“The only way to achieve more security and peace is to respect the UN Declaration of Human Rights, accomplish global disarmament and end external military interventions.”

Finally on Brexit, Zimmer is pleased that issue of citizens’ rights has been addressed at the Council but believes the five-year cut-off point for citizenship as proposed by Theresa May must not begin until Britain leaves the EU: 

“It´s a first crucial step that Prime Minister Theresa May wants to give EU citizens in the UK the same rights as British citizens. The EU needs to ensure in the negotiations that acquired rights to social benefits and pensions are not lost.”

“We demand that the start date for the five-year period as proposed by May will be set on the day when Great Britain withdraws from the EU. If the European Court of Justice is to be judicially responsible for British citizens in the EU, it must also take care of the rights and entitlements of EU citizens in Great Britain.”

“Theresa May must therefore refine her proposal. In addition, the EU must offer more support to the peace process in Ireland by negotiating with the British government on clear guidelines – such as a special status for the North of Ireland – in order to uphold the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts. There must not be a hardening of the border between the north and south of Ireland,” Zimmer concluded.

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