May must work more closely with EU – not Trump – to best tackle refugee crisis, warn senior Euro-MPs

Theresa May must work more closely with her European colleagues, rather than Donald Trump, to best tackle the refugee crisis, Labour MEPs warned after EU leaders today agreed a new package of measures.

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

“Our committee has already held initial discussions with the Commission on the EU’s agreement with Libya and will continue to monitor all aspects of it to ensure the rights of refugees and migrants are upheld, and they are not forcibly returned to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution.

“We will study carefully the conclusions of the summit when they come before parliament, at a joint meeting of the civil liberties and foreign affairs committees. It is essential we ensure the right mechanisms are in place to protect and monitor asylum safeguards – this is vital given the revelations of deteriorating conditions and human rights violations for migrants and refugees in Libya.

“We welcome efforts to increase training and support for the Libyan national coast guard as well as support to the UNHCR, but it is also important national governments, including our own, uphold their responsibilities in the wake of the global refugee crisis, as despite a slight increase in relocation and resettlement figures, the numbers are still low.

“It is therefore vital Theresa May works more closely with her EU colleagues on this, and distances herself from the divisive and heartless policies of the US government. While President Trump may be closing the door to the world’s tired, poor and huddled masses, yearning to breathe free of conflict and war, Britain, and Europe, cannot, must not and will not do the same.”

Linda McAvan MEP, chair of the European Parliament development committee, added:

“While we broadly welcome these new proposals, they are only a sticking plaster on the issue of the refugee crisis facing Europe and the world – until and unless the root causes of the problem are tackled, these crises will persist.

“Poverty is a key driver of conflict, fragility and migration. A clear focus on the eradication of global poverty as the long-term goal of EU development aid must, therefore, be our priority – and that needs proper resourcing. Governments must not scale back on their aid budgets; quite the opposite, we need more countries to meet the 0.7 per cent target.

“Britain has for years led global efforts to increase development and fight poverty, and it is therefore deeply troubling that our prime minister appears to be aligning herself more closely with President Trump than the EU.

“Even after Brexit, it is only by working with our European partners that we can best tackle the refugee crisis. We must continue to do so, and ensure greater coordination between EU countries on the ground via the EU External Action Service.”