MEPs explore effects of ‘Fortress Europe’ in Mediterranean

MEPs explore effects of ‘Fortress Europe’ in Mediterranean


MEPs Barbara Spinelli and Malin Björk meeting Capitano di Fregata (CP) Massimo Di Marco (Comandante della Capitaneria di Porto – Guardia Costiera)

MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat, GUE/NGL Political Adviser for Migration policy Amandine Bach and MEP Cornelia Ernst at the meeting with Mare Nostrum Captain

The delegation visited the main centre for migrants in Lampedusa but no photographs were allowed with the camera


These were taken using a phone on the inside of the soon to be used and renovated centre:


Marie-Christine Vergiat at a workshop on missing people:

Cornelia Ernst at the closing plenary session of the Sabir festival:


The march of relatives of victims and survivors of last October's migrant shipwreck



Meeting with the representatives of the associations of relatives of missing or deceased migrants

This informal workshop was carried out in preparation for a session on missing or deceased migrants at the Sabir festival. The aim was to arrive at areas of common work in advance of the more formal meeting the following day.
Ideas such as a peoples tribunal for the disappeared, the question of visas and access to visas for migrants, Establishing and improving contact with NGOs around the Mediterranean who work on these issues were discussed among the participants who were made up of independent journalists, representatives of NGOs, campaign organisations and other civil society groups working on both sides of the Mediterranean.


It's one year since 368 people were killed as a result of the tragic Lampedusa disaster.

Yet, Europe’s scandalous migration regime continues to claim lives.

GUE/NGL MEPs Eleonora Forenza, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Barbara Spinelli, Cornelia Ernst, and Malin Björk have today reiterated their condolences to the loved ones of the victims and denounce the EU’s despicable approach to migration policy.

Read the press statement.


MEPs Eleonora Forenza and Malin Björk speaking in the opening debate of the Sabir Festival in a debate titled “Common elements for cooperation” which brought in discussion on the struggle against free trade agreements, climate change, the privatisation of common goods. Many focused on TTIP but also on the Paris 2015 COP preparations and the need to make sure the Left's views are well represented. The speakers came from social, environmental, and educational NGOs as well as trade unions from all over Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Read the press statement

MEP Malin Bjork talks trade with NGOs at Sabir Festival, Lampedusa


MEP Eleonora Forenza discusses cooperation to build a strong movement against TTIP over the coming year.



Snapshots from Lampedusa: Protect the people, not the borders!

The migration issue is everywhere to be seen in Lampedusa

Migrant boats wrecked near the main port in an area called the 'boat graveyard'.

A child's image of their ordeal


Life-saving and legal channels key to rescuing EU migration policy

Read the press statement

Frontex meeting – Catania
Swedish MEP Malin Björk set out the importance of migration issues for GUE/NGL. Frontex Spokesperson Izabella Cooper explains the role of the Frontex agency in providing additional technical assistance to member states and details the numbers of migrants they estimate arriving.

Meeting with Frontex representatives in Catania to raise concerns about the agency's operation.

Frontex coordinates two operations in Italy – Hermes and Aeneas. Cooper talks about the new operation code-named Triton, the new code of conduct for border guards and debriefers. Malin Björk asks for spending figures on equipment and staff, further detail on the origins of migrants, the conditions of boats, coordination problems between member states with regards to place of disembarcation and if Frontex will ever carry out search and rescue missions? She also mentions evidence of push backs and holds up Mare Nostrum as a programme that “has changed the way people think about operations in the Mediterranean”.

Talking with teenage migrants at the Palaspedini structure in Catania.

GUE/NGL adviser on migration Amandine Bach raised problem of access to information on Frontex projects and asked what is being done in terms of its cooperation with third countries. David Reisenzein, Liaison Officer, Frontex Liaison Office, Brussels, explains working arrangements with different countries and the lack of such arrangements with some North African countries. Questions are posed about what kind of information is collected from the migrants – deaths? family members? etc… Frontex say this information is collected only by the Italian Red Cross.

Palaspedini structure.

Outside the Mixt Accomodation, Identification and Expulsion Centre of Pian del Lago, Caltanissetta region – we gained access to meet and listen to the inhabitants but no photos were allowed inside.


Hearing of Commissioner-designate Dimitris Avramopoulos

Right before leaving for the delegation to Lampedusa, MEPs questioned the new Commissioner-designate Dimitris Avramopoulos' on his views on migration and asylum policy.

 Swedish MEP Malin Bjork said:

 “Avramopoulos did not provide any satisfactory responses during the hearing, and clearly stands behind current Fortress Europe policies, including strengthening Frontex. On my question calling for actions to act against the sex industry and against the sexual exploitation of women and girls, he did not give any concrete answers, but started to babble about smuggling instead.”

 German MEP Cornelia Ernst said:

 “Avramopoulos is obviously someone who knows what people like to hear, but he failed to give a concrete account of what he intended to do. We didn't hear his position on how to deal with the tragedies happening at the borders of the EU, where he wants to further strengthen Frontex, nor with regards to anti-terrorism policies, where he wants to uphold fundamental rights without saying how to resolve the conflicting interests in both fields.”


MEPs Malin Björk (Sweden), Cornelia Ernst (Germany), Eleonora Forenza (Italy), Barbara Spinelli (Italy) and Marie-Christine Vergiat (France) will take part in the delegation that will visit migrants' centres, meet with NGOs, participate in workshops and debates on border surveillance, migrants' rights and other issues at the Sabir Festival of Mediterranean cultures, meet with EU external border agency Frontex, and attend the symbolic commemoration of the shipwreck of 3rd of October in which 368 people seeking asylum died.

GUE/NGL has long opposed the construction of ‘fortress Europe’ and has worked at the forefront of the No-Fortress Europe campaign to highlight the positive aspects of immigration and put forward policies based on the free movement of individuals which promote human rights. GUE/NGL MEPs have been at the frontline in denouncing the inhumanity of migrants’ detention and the persistent breaches of fundamental rights that take place in many detention centres across Europe.

The programme of the delegation is available here 

MEPs on the delegation: Eleonora Forenza, Barbara Spinelli, Cornelia Ernst, Marie-Christine Vergiat and Malin Björk.

GUE/NGL Press: David Lundy +32 470 85 05 09



GUE/NGL MEPs will be participating in international debates and workshops at the Sabir Festival of Mediterranean cultures taking place on Lampedusa, see http://www.festivalsabirlampedusa.it/ for more details.

For further details on our previous work on migration and asylum see this leaflet from the last legislature: http://left.eu/policy/publication/for-a-respectful-and-responsible-migration-policy