Magazine article Europe-East

Immigration : Ep Calls for "Resettlement" of North African Refugees

Magazine article Europe-East

Immigration : Ep Calls for "Resettlement" of North African Refugees

Article excerpt

As a rule, immigration issues give rise to very diverse positions in the European Parliament. However, given the humanitarian emergency in Italy, where around 22,000 mainly Tunisian immigrants have landed since the start of the year, as well as the situation of refugees fleeing war-torn Libya, the EP's main political groups issued a common appeal from Strasbourg.

In a resolution adopted on 5 April, Parliament states that Frontex, the European external border surveillance agency, cannot be the only instrument used to help Lampedusa, the small Italian island opposite Tunisia, to cope with the immigration crisis. The 27 must develop a plan for the "resettlement" of refugees, applying a "solidarity clause" between member states at EU level. The Commissioner in charge, Cecilia Malmstrom, has already launched a similar appeal. She estimates at around 2,000 the number of refugees from Libya - Eritreans, Sudanese and Ethiopians - in need at the borders with Tunisia and Egypt, and incapable of returning home due to the threat of violence. A few hundred refugees from Libya have reached Italian shores in the last few days.

"No country can cope with this pressure," declared the right-wing, Eurosceptic rapporteur Fiorello Provera (EFD, Italy).

Article 80 of the Lisbon Treaty establishes a principle of solidarity' and fair burden-sharing by all the member states in connection with asylum and immigration and border control policies, in particular financial contributions by member states. All this depends on their good will, however.


At the initiative of the rapporteur, who belongs to the same party as Italian Home Affairs Minister Roberto Maroni (Northern League), MEPs regret that "the only option available" was suspension of the EU-Libya cooperation programme on immigration during the revolts. They also note that this suspension "should be revoked as soon as there is a new transitional government willing to promote the democratic and human rights-based implementation of such an agreement". …

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