MEPs yesterday discussed the Valletta summit on migration, which brought together European and African Heads of State and Government on 11-12 November as well as the G20 meeting which took place three days later in Antalya, Turkey. GUE/NGL MEPs, members of the Civil Liberties committee, were strongly critical of the poor results emerging from both meetings.

GUE/NGL MEP Kostas Chrysogonos said: “The results of the EU-Africa summit on migration in Malta and the G20 in Turkey on global development were poor. We had all kinds of fine words and lofty declarations but no real commitment by the countries taking part. The real results came from the informal summit which had to do with the aid to go to Turkey to assist it with the 2 million refugees on its territory. The fact that Turkey has now shot down a Russian fighter plane strengthens the suspicions we already had about this country.”

For Marie-Christine Vergiat, the Valletta summit set down an action plan for countries of origin and countries of transit in order to come to grips with the refugee crisis. “Aid is used to stop people leaving their countries or readmitting them to their countries once they have reached the EU. This is just externalising policy. We have to improve the conditions for refugees who have rights, including the right to asylum, instead of cooperating with the worst dictatorships in Sudan and Eritrea. Legal routes are being closed and all we are left with are words. Pragmatism and rationality, you say. No, all we have is cynicism.”

Martina Anderson said that the conclusions from the summit didn't fill her with optimism. “When I read them I despaired. What we need are immediate meaningful steps to address the humanitarian crisis at our borders. The people fleeing conflicts and oppression from Libya, Eritrea and Yemen aren't irregular; they are desperate human beings attempting to escape the horrors of war. They are refugees who need their fundamental rights and dignity protected by the EU. It's up to us; we have a responsibility to do much, much more. These conclusions are disgraceful and shameful.”

Malin Björk told the chamber that the previous day Sweden had turned off its lights and decided to more or less close its borders and all but stop the rights to family reunification. “This is not the way forward for Sweden and it is certainly not the way forward for Europe. Nor are the Valletta conclusions. What they do is shape a plan for holding back refugees, making African countries a buffer zone responsible not only for holding but even for stopping refugees. The focus is on fighting irregular migration, on returns, on cooperating with dictatorships. We have to find a way forward and the focus should be to find legal ways and also to strengthen our capacity to receive those people seeking protection and to share this responsibility.”

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