Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament regret the situation of the 42 migrants who were stranded in the Mediterranean in the Sea-Watch boat. They are now waiting off the coast of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, following the decision of the captain of the NGO ship to enter Italian waters in defiance of a ban by the Italian government.
The lack of EU action feeds the populist discourse. The leader of the S&D Group will push for a strong EU migration policy based on principles of the respect of human dignity and solidarity expressed in the Treaties.
S&D Group leader Iratxe García said:
“The duty to rescue persons in distress at sea is not only a fundamental rule of international law but a moral duty. We praise the efforts of volunteers who put themselves at risk rescuing people at sea, but this is only a band-aid that cannot properly face the enormous humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean.
“Populists will continue to profit from this drama as long as the European Union is not capable of establishing a proper asylum and migration policy, with the necessary means and solidarity mechanisms. Our political group will fight to make this a priority in the next Commission mandate.”
The head of the Italian delegation in the S&D group, David Sassoli, added:
"Human beings come first, always. We firmly urge the Italian authorities to let the 42 migrants disembark the Sea Watch boat and ensure them all the necessary medical care. At the same time, with equal firmness, we deplore the fact the European Council has not yet agreed upon a common and coordinated European solution to the migration issue and instead it leaves the concerned countries to face this challenge every time with last minute ineffective ad hoc solutions.
"This is the only way forward if we want to be effective in fighting back against the spread of nationalism and populists in Europe. We would humbly also suggest the Italian Interior Affairs Minister, Matteo Salvini, to better set his alarm clock for the days of the Justice and Home affairs Council meetings, as he missed six out of the last seven. It might be more useful being present to complete the reform of the Dublin regulation and the current asylum system in the appropriate fora, rather than just putting on show for the cameras.”