GUE/NGL MEPs opposed any strengthening of FRONTEX recalling that the FRONTEX mandate is not to save lives but border surveillance and called instead for safe routes for migrants and asylum seekers and strengthening of search and rescue during a debate on FRONTEX and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in the European Parliament in Strasbourg last night.

Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli deplored the deaths in the Mediterranean and the failed role of FRONTEX and Triton: “The facts are self-evident. The closure of Mare Nostrum is giving rise to humanitarian disasters. FRONTEX, which was supposed to solve the whole problem, as well as Triton, are a real failure. That's why FRONTEX shouldn't be getting more resources.”

She further asked for the European Union to finance search and rescue programmes like Mare Nostrum and, for the moment for FRONTEX to act proactively as well as outside the 30-mile limit when called upon to save lives.

For Swedish MEP Malin Björk, “European migration and refugee policy is a catastrophe and the situation is at its worst since the end of World War II. We are talking about more resources for FRONTEX rather than providing safe routes. The deaths in the Mediterranean are being used to justify more resources for FRONTEX and this is not acceptable.”

“FRONTEX will never save lives, it is a border police,” she added. “We need strengthened European responsibility for search and rescue in the Mediterranean and legal ways to build up Mare Nostrum. Unlike the Liberals, we want a Mare Nostrum +, not a FRONTEX +.”

Evoking the case of a young Spanish activist being held in Morocco and abandoned by the Spanish authorities, Basque MEP Josu Juaristi said this case illustrated that the “EU and Spain were far from being a space of human rights. In addition, we are trying to give legitimacy to FRONTEX, but FRONTEX is not doing what it should be doing  vis à vis the situation in Melilla.”

Commenting on FRONTEX, Spanish Tania González Peñas said: “With FRONTEX, we are building a Fortress Europe where migration policy is simply part of an alleged security policy, restricting visas, building deadly fences and walls, border controls, forced returns and sub-contracting migratory flows to non-democratic countries which are systematically violating human rights.”

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