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Lampedusa tragedy puts illegal immigration squarely on the EU agenda

brussels bureau

Lampedusa tragedy puts illegal immigration squarely on the EU agenda


Preventing a repeat of the Lampedusa tragedy will top the agenda when EU interior ministers meet on Tuesday, a day before the EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso’s planned trip to the island.

“In the medium and long term, dialogue and cooperation with countries of origin and transit of migrants and asylum seekers must be improved. Firstly, greater efficacy in the fight against the smugglers and criminals who are behind these tragedies. We should not forget that behind the victims there real criminal networks that profit from exploiting people’s hopes,” EU Commission spokesperson Michele Cercone told euronews.

Some believe the sympathetic words of politicians in Brussels often clash with the complex and politically explosive subject of illegal immigration in Europe.

The EU needs a different approach, according to Director of Amnesty International in Brussels Nicolas Beger.

“The issue is that war and conflict and horrible situations will always make people flee, so the more the EU focuses on keeping people out and in closing its borders, the more it will be contributing to people taking ever more perilous roads, getting themselves into ever more danger,” Beger explained.

A unified approach may take some time.

Asylum-seekers in the EU must appeal for help in the country through which they enter. Southern European countries believe this is unfair and are pushing for a redistribution of asylum applications. However, northern countries argue they grant two-thirds of successful applications in the EU.

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