GUE/NGL group has intervened at the start of today’s mini-plenary at the European Parliament to criticise President Antonio Tajani’s recent interview with the German media in which he supported the idea of putting refugees in camps in Libya for an indefinite period.

The newly-elected President of the Parliament was asked by Barbara Spinelli MEP during the Point of Order to clarify his comments in which Tajani suggested to Funke Mediengruppe the possibility of “millions of refugees reaching Europe in the next 20 years”.

Tajani’s remarks were deemed to have broken the promise to speak and act ‘in name of the whole Parliament’ even though GUE/NGL – along with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – oppose the return of migrants and refugees in Libya as it is not considered a safe country.

In addition, Marina Albiol MEP had already written to the President demanding an explanation of his remarks (in English and Spanish).

Speaking on behalf of the group, Spinelli asked Tajani:

“Based on article 22 of the Rules of Procedures, I am astonished by the President’s statements made to the German press on Monday regarding the return agreement with Libya.”

“The Parliament has never discussed the matter and, even though you knew the objections of many MEPs, you declared to be in favour of the establishment of detention camps in Libya. Camps where migrants and refugees could be locked in – and I quote – “even for years”.”

“My political group is against this agreement – and it is not the only one. The United Nations consider Libya as an unsafe country.  In the interview, you say that the camps shall not be concentration camps. Of course they shan’t!,” said Spinelli.

“But I wonder how the Union would be able to guarantee this as Libya is not an European protectorate. I am surprised by your words since, in the past, you promised to be an impartial President and to respect the different opinions that there are in this hemicycle.  I fear it is a broken promise,” argued Spinelli.

Albiol was equally critical of the Tajani remarks:

“This is yet another example of mainstream parties adopting the language of the far-right in the European Union in order to compete with them in the elections without challenging them politically.”

“Such scaremongering against migrants and asylum-seekers cannot be tolerated, and presenting them as a threat would only fuel xenophobia,” she continued.

“The situation on the ground in Libya is already extremely precarious with different armed groups claiming control of the territory and forcing people to stay in camps. This is in complete breach of international law.”

“Tajani must rectify these unfortunate comments if he does not want to be a force for the assimilation of the European Union’s discourse with the one of the far-right,“ argued Albiol.

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