“We must go back to thinking of shared EU actions in the Mediterranean to save people, actions that take ground away from traffickers. There is the need for a European search and rescue mechanism at sea,” European Parliament president David Sassoli said Monday.
He was speaking at the opening of a high-level conference on migration and asylum at the European Parliament.
“It is our duty to save lives. We cannot leave this to NGOs, which at the moment are serving as a substitute,” he added.
Sassoli said that the Covid-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on migration patterns locally and worldwide and has had a multiplier effect on the forced movement of people around the world, especially where access to treatment and healthcare is not guaranteed. The pandemic has disrupted migration pathways, blocked immigration, destroyed jobs and income, reduced remittances, and pushed millions of migrants and vulnerable populations into poverty.
Migration and asylum are already an integral part of the external action of the European Union. But they must become part of a stronger and more cohesive foreign policy in the future.
He stressed that it is necessary to “ensure that people in need can arrive in Europe in a safe manner and not risking their lives” through the setting up of “humanitarian corridors”. “We must move beyond the Dublin system and create one based on solidarity, sharing, and responsibility,” Sassoli said.
In his speech, the European Parliament President said that Europe must ensure that people in need of protection can arrive in the European Union safely and without risking their lives. We need humanitarian channels to be defined together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We must work together on a European resettlement system based on common responsibility. We are talking about people who can also make an important contribution to the recovery of our societies affected by the pandemic and demographic decline, thanks to their work and their skills.
He added that there is the need to put in place a European migration reception policy. Together we should define the criteria for a single entry and residence permit, assessing the needs of our labour markets at a national level as during the pandemic, entire economic sectors came to a halt due to the absence of immigrant workers. We need regulated immigration for the recovery of our societies and for the maintenance of our social protection systems.
In a recent Eurobarometer survey, migration remained an important issue for Maltese respondents with some 31% indicating that the EU should be addressing it as a priority over the next months.
Earlier this month, a Director of Policy Development and Programme Implementation from the Home Affairs Ministry , Stephanie Bason, told the European Parliament that “a harmonised solution is not necessarily the right solution, especially when circumstances differ so significantly from one member state to another”. Bason, who was reflecting the Government position on the issue, said that it was vital to always keep in sight particular difficulties faced by each and every member state. “This is the only way we can find a solution that works for all.”