The civil war in Syria and the recent deaths of more than 270 asylum seekers off the Italian coast show that EU is not doing enough to tackle the issue of immigration, according to members of the European Parliament.
A debate amongst MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday comes after the would-be migrants lost their lives near the Italian island of Lampedusa last week.
President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, told euronews that national governments must coordinate their immigration policies to ease the pressure on countries along the Mediterranean, particularly richer EU members.
“We call it burden sharing. Those that have really the chance to receive people, who have sufficient money to support the local authorities, who are responsible the for helping refugees and providing with the necessary money – those countries should do it,” said Schulz.
Louis Michel, the former humanitarian aid commissioner now MEP, says the conflict in Syria is justification for EU member states to trigger the so-called Temporary Protection Directive – an EU law that eases visa and work restrictions across the whole bloc during particular humanitarian crises.
“I think that member state have the tools. This directive exists, so there’s no problem in activating it. We cannot imagine that a member state will send them back. Or that the principle of temporary protection won’t be applied. I think it’s unimaginable that these could happen. So today, I think that we should use all the tools that we have available,” Michel told euronews.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the convening of a conference to help Syria’s neighbouring countries who are dealing with increasing numbers of refugees. The number of Syrian refugees is expected to reach 3.5 million by the end of the year.