A decade after the EU’s ‘never again’ tragedy, little has changed

Brussels – Ten years ago this year, the head of the European Union’s executive branch stood visibly trembling before a row of coffins containing the bodies of migrants drowned on Italy’s Lampedusa island. Some of them were small, bone-white, and contained the bodies of infants and children.

“The images of hundreds of coffins haunt me. Jose Manuel Barroso said in 2013.

On October 3, 2013, more than 300 people died when a fishing boat set off from Libya, the world’s worst migration route, caught fire. A boat carrying about 500 people seeking a better life in Europe capsized just a few hundred meters (yards) from the shore.

“A tragedy like the one we witnessed here so close to the coast must never happen again,” Barrosso said. The EU “needs to strengthen surveillance systems to track boats so they can initiate rescue operations and bring people back to safety before they die,” he added.

There is nothing for EU leaders to consider at next week’s summit. In fact, almost ten years have passed and little has improved.

Approximately 330,000 unauthorized European entry attempts were made in 2022. This is his highest in six years. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 25,000 people have died or gone missing while trying to cross the Mediterranean since 2014.

A search-and-rescue mission launched in response to the Lampedusa tragedy was shut down after a year over concerns that an Italian naval vessel had only urged people to sail in the hope that it would be pulled out of the sea. .

Private boats run by charities are being chased or seized by governments trying to save lives. The EU has provided ships and equipment to the Libyan coast guard to prevent people from leaving the country, and Turkey and several other North African countries have received financial support.

At the February 9-10 summit, the EU’s 27 heads of state and governments will strengthen borders and put pressure on poor countries through which people leave or pass through to reach Europe, according to a prepared draft statement. I will call you again to call. For the conference seen by the Associated Press.

Leaders will allow Frontex, the agency of the border and coast guard, to fulfill its “core mission of helping member states protect their external borders, combat transnational crime and increase profits.” We provide “full assistance” as follows. Deportation.

The EU said it would “strengthen cooperation with countries of origin and transit through mutually beneficial partnerships”, but that could change before the summit. It did not list the ways in which partnerships could be beneficial to those countries, only the means of persuasion that could be used with them.

The EU’s aid budget should be used “best possible” to encourage countries to stop people from leaving, it said. Those who do not accept the return of their citizens will find it difficult to obtain European visas. Bangladesh, Gambia, Iraq and Senegal are already under surveillance.

After a meeting of interior ministers last week, the EU’s Swedish presidency said that “both positive incentives and restrictive measures are needed. We need to tap into the policy arena.”

The border fence is back on the agenda after the European Commission previously refused to let member states pay for it, arguing it was not in line with “European values”. Several EU member states such as Hungary, Austria and Slovenia have fenced their borders after well over one million of her migrants entered Europe in 2015. Most of them are war refugees from Syria and Iraq.

A Dutch government policy paper circulated in Brussels states that “all types of fixed and mobile infrastructure are subject to wider border control measures, while guaranteeing the fundamental rights enshrined in EU and international law.” should be part of a comprehensive package.”

The border between EU member states Bulgaria and Turkey, from which many migrants depart, is of particular concern. Asked about it last Thursday, Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson only said there wasn’t enough money to help the country build the fence.

The commission wants to speed up asylum processing at the bloc’s border and has appointed a “return coordinator” to facilitate deportations. More than 900,000 people applied for her EU asylum last year, creating a backlog at the border.

In a letter to leaders, President Ursula von der Leyen said pilot tests of “expedited border procedures” would take place in the coming months, including the “immediate return” of those who were not allowed to stay. Stated.

This ‘Fortress Europe’ approach evolved as the EU agreed on an answer to the vexing question of who should be responsible for migrants and refugees arriving in Europe, and whether other Member States should be obliged to assist. because it did not reach

The issue has come to an end as millions of Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed into Europe amid an outpouring of goodwill from countries such as Hungary and Poland, which are adamantly opposed to helping care for migrants from Africa and the Middle East. Last year it happened very rarely.

A commission agreement on immigration and asylum announced in 2020 was supposed to solve the problem, but has made little progress. Member States may support the reform plan before it becomes, he said.


Contributed by Raf Casert from Brussels and Mike Corder from The Hague.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2023/01/31/10-years-after-eus-never-again-tragedy-littles-changed/ A decade after the EU’s ‘never again’ tragedy, little has changed

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