European ministers are holding a crisis meeting after more than 700 migrants drowned this weekend while attempting to reach the Italian shore.
The main issue here is to build together a common sense of European responsibility on what is happening on the Mediterranean.
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni appealed for a cohesive EU-wide response to the growing numbers of migrants making the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.
“It’s no longer possible to sustain a situation where, in a European emergency, we are responding with Italian resources and commitments alone,” he said.
Over two thousand people have died this year setting sail from Libya. Thousands more have been rescued, with Italy carrying most of the burden.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström called for the EU to boost its Frontex regional border agency. She added that EU member states should also share the responsibility of helping refugees in a “much more even way, a more fair way.”
One option under consideration is for member states to set up a full-fledged EU search and rescue operation to patrol its southern waters.
“The main issue here is to build together a common sense of European responsibility on what is happening on the Mediterranean,” Federica Mogherini, the EU’s head of foreign affairs, told reporters outside Monday’s meeting in Luxembourg. “Knowing that there is no easy solution, no magic solution, but there is responsibility that we have to exercise together.”
European Council head Donald Tusk is considering calling a special EU summit on migration and the Mediterranean crisis.
The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean has been steadily increasing since the political upheaval following the Arab Spring in 2011. Over 170,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean in 2014, up from around 40,000 in 2013.