Monday

30th Jan 2023

EU centrists ally with far right on migrant rescues

  • MEPs will vote on a resolution dealing with search and rescue at sea (Photo: Brainbitch)

Centre-right and liberal MEPs joined forces with the far right to weaken European Parliament's political pressure on member states when it comes to NGO search and rescue at sea.

The move is part of a larger resolution to be voted on Thursday (24 October) and comes amid internal efforts to kill off a progressive-led draft agreed earlier this week by the European Parliament's civil liberty committee (Libe).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The Libe resolution demands EU states allow NGOs to disembark rescued migrants and refugees at their ports, after desperate people were left stranded on charity vessels like the Sea Watch for weeks off Maltese and Italian coasts.

Specifically, the current draft demands "member states to maintain their ports open to NGO vessels."

The original text had gone further, also asking NGOs be allowed to operate "in member state territory" and to "make the registration of NGO vessels less burdensome."

But a push driven by the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), with support from the liberal Renew Europe and the far-right political group Identity and Democracy, managed to remove references to territory and any easing of NGO registration.

Libe resolution in balance

The plan now is to scupper the Libe resolution altogether with alternative versions tabled by the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, the far-right Identity and Democracy, and the centre-right EPP.

These group resolutions will also go for a vote on Thursday, meaning the nine-page Libe version may never see the light of day.

The order of the vote on Thursday is politically charged, given the plenary will likely be asked to first vote on the version tabled by ECR, then Identity and Democracy, then EPP, and finally the Libe one.

"We are very worried the EPP resolution will pass and the Libe resolution will fail," French far-left MEP Manon Aubry told reporters in Strasbourg.

EU rescue-lite

The EPP resolution is only four pages long and does not ask EU states to maintain their ports open to NGO vessels.

It also leaves out Libe demands for EU states to "enhance proactive search and rescue operations" and adds a line demanding the European Commission continue its cooperation with Libya despite allegations of human rights horrors at its hands.

Asked by EUobserver, if his group intended to support the EPP resolution, Renew Europe's leader Dacian Ciolos said it still needed to be discussed.

"I cannot express an opinion before we have this discussion," he said.

EU migrant boat plan fails to get extra support

Only seven out of 28 EU states have so far supported a draft plan to disembark and relocate migrants rescued in the central Mediterranean, following a meeting in Luxembourg.

Feature

EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock

No EU country willing to open its ports for the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms, with France and others turning to the European Commission for help.

Magazine

Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee offers a snapshot of the European "state of mind", says its chair Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar. Its biggest challenge will be getting member states to unblock the EU asylum package.

Column

Six reasons why 'where are you really from?' is racist

Next time you think people should not be criticised for "just being curious" about someone's origin, ask yourself just why that harmless extra sub-question only ever surfaces around non-white Europeans.

Latest News

  1. No internet, light, heat: how war-hit Ukrainians remote-work
  2. Mars, god of war, returns to Europe
  3. Fears on migration plus Ukraine summit this WEEK
  4. Pressure mounts on EU to coordinate visas for Russian rights-defenders
  5. Dutch set to agree to US-led chip controls to China
  6. No record of Latvian MEP's 'official' Azerbaijan trip
  7. Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters
  8. Europe continues to finance Russia's war in Ukraine with lucrative fossil fuel trades

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  2. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  3. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  4. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us