Statement of Commissioner Avramopoulos in the EP plenary debate on the extraordinary European Council meeting on migration and the latest tragedies in the Mediterranean.

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29 Apr 2015

Strasbourg, 29 April 2015

I would like to thank all Members of the European Parliament on behalf of the Commission for this debate. It was a very interesting debate. I would even say a historic debate.

There is a momentum to act on migration. And it is our duty. It is time to pass from words to actions.  Solidarity will stop being a slogan; it will become a reality.

This is not about Fortress Europe, protecting the borders. This is about more capacities for Search and Rescue.

So now we need to act quickly. Indeed, Frontex is taking the necessary steps to incorporate all the proposed assets in the two operations Triton and Poseidon as soon as possible.

This strong expression of solidarity is an important step forward, but more needs to be done. It is very important to deal immediately with a crisis.  We cannot accept the loss of more lives.

We need to do our outmost to save lives, but dealing with migration is not only dealing with a specific crisis or a specific region. As I always said, we need a holistic approach. This is also why migration is one of the main priorities of President Juncker as he underlined before.

The European Commission will present on 13 May the European Agenda on Migration. This Agenda will develop the much-needed comprehensive approach for migration.

We have to work on resettlement and relocation and to come up with concrete solutions. More is needed.

The scope of the Agenda will be geographically broad, since other regions have encountered or may encounter problems in future. The Mediterranean is a priority but we should not forget the Turkey-Bulgarian border, the Serbian-Hungarian border, etc.

On smugglers, we have to increase our efforts with our agencies – EUROPOL, FRONTEX, EASO, EMSA and EUROJUST – to gather information on smugglers' modus operandi, to trace their funds, and to assist in their investigation.

Also, we have to intensify our efforts to engage with countries of origin and transit. In transit countries, we need to find ways to build the necessary infrastructure where migrants can feel safe and not take dangerous journeys to Europe.

Yes we will have to look at the Dublin system to see whether it works. For me it is an open issue and we will come back to it.

Moreover, the Agenda will focus on legal migration and especially the 'Blue Card'.

The debate today and what happened in the last few days is a clear sign of solidarity to save lives.

We must swiftly implement our decisions and, at the same time, look at midterm and long term solutions.

We need to do all this together – both the EU institutions and the Member States.

The European Agenda on Migration is the next opportunity for action.

Finally, some of you referred to what happened in Indonesia. Last week the European Council also discussed the issue of death penalty, referring to the case of French citizen Serge Atlaoui.

For the European Union, death penalty is never the answer.

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