Labour MEPs: Migrant ship stranding shows urgent need for reform of EU rules and action to tackle root causes

The stranding of more than six hundred migrants on board a ship off the coast of Italy once again highlights the urgent need for reforms to the EU Dublin Regulation on asylum and action to tackle the root causes, Labour MEPs warned as the European Parliament debated the humanitarian emergencies in the Mediterranean.

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:

“The scenes we have seen are terrible. People in urgent distress, being turned away. Desperate. Cold. Tired. Hungry. We have a duty, a responsibility, to help these people – and we need a system in place that enables us to help them, we need to reform the current Dublin Regulation so that it is fit for purpose.

“Ministers need to stop stalling and agree the reforms we desperately need, including our proposals to introduce more objective criteria to determine where migrants are sent to in Europe, such as family ties, cultural factors or knowledge of the language.

“Only with these long-awaited reforms to Dublin and modernisation of the Common European Asylum System will we be able to stop governments from using migrants as a political football.

“And we need to take action to tackle the root causes that compel people to flee their homes, their communities, their families, often in fear of persecution, torture and death, and undertake precarious, deadly journeys thousands of miles across treacherous waters in unimaginable conditions.

“We need more, better-targeted humanitarian aid, greater assistance for those on the ground, more education, and economic opportunities; we must open our hearts, minds and markets, and ensure people do not live under such dreadful conditions that they are willing to risk their lives to escape them.”