European Union foreign and interior ministers agreed on April 20 to a 10-point plan in response to the crisis in the Mediterranean, which has seen a succession of tragedies with crossing attempts by migrant boats from Africa ending in several hundred drownings.
“We need to show that same collective European sense of urgency we have consistently shown in reacting in times of crisis,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said in a joint statement.
The dire situation in the Mediterranean was not a new nor a passing reality, they said.
This was why the European Commission would come forward with a comprehensive European Agenda on Migration in May to address the structural problems.
“The 10 actions we have agreed on today are the direct, substantial measures we will take to make an immediate difference,” Mogherini and Avramopoulos said.
“All of these actions require our common effort, the European institutions and the 28 member states.”
They said that the proposals would be put to the European Council which will hold a special meeting on April 23 to address the situation in the Mediterranean.
“This is what Europe taking responsibility is – all of us working together,” they said.
The 10 points are, as stated in the declaration after the meeting:
* Reinforce the Joint Operations in the Mediterranean, namely Triton and Poseidon, by increasing the financial resources and the number of assets. We will also extend their operational area, allowing us to intervene further, within the mandate of Frontex;
* A systematic effort to capture and destroy vessels used by the smugglers. The positive results obtained with the Atalanta operation should inspire us to similar operations against smugglers in the Mediterranean;
* EUROPOL, FRONTEX, EASO and EUROJUST will meet regularly and work closely to gather information on smugglers modus operandi, to trace their funds and to assist in their investigation;
* EASO to deploy teams in Italy and Greece for joint processing of asylum applications;
* Member States to ensure fingerprinting of all migrants;
* Consider options for an emergency relocation mechanism;
* A EU wide voluntary pilot project on resettlement, offering a number of places to persons in need of protection;
* Establish a new return programme for rapid return of irregular migrants coordinated by Frontex from frontline Member States;
* Engagement with countries surrounding Libya through a joined effort between the Commission and the EEAS; initiatives in Niger have to be stepped up.
* Deploy Immigration Liaison Officers (ILO) in key third countries, to gather intelligence on migratory flows and strengthen the role of the EU Delegations.