Wednesday

25th Apr 2018

EU mission to help Italy save boat migrants

  • Italy's Mare Nostrum operation was launched last year (Photo: EUobserver)

The EU is to launch a “Frontex plus” mission in autumn to help Italy on the search and rescue of Mediterranean boat migrants.

Home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom announced the move after a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday (27 August) with Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The UN estimates that nearly 2,000 migrants have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean sea. (Photo: Orazio Esposito)

Referring to the EU’s border-control agency, Frontex, in Warsaw, she said: “Two ongoing Frontex operations, Hermes and Aeneas, will be merged and extended into a new upgraded operation. The aim is to put in place an enlarged 'Frontex plus' to complement what Italy has been doing."

“This operation should in principle succeed the Hermes operation and we hope that it can be in place by the end of November.”

The commission hopes Frontex plus will ultimately replace the Italian government’s sea rescue operation, known as Mare Nostrum, launched last autumn.

The move comes after repeated requests from the Italian government for more help in coping with the thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

More than 300 were killed trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in the past week, bringing the death toll to almost 1,900 this year.

“It has been clear that this is not an effort that Italy can carry out all alone,” Malmstrom noted, adding that “Frontex will need more money”.

Finding the resources to fund EU border control has proved difficult, however.

Frontex’s budget was in fact cut from €93.9 million to €89.1 million in 2014 and governments are still battling over its 2015 allowance.

“We will ask for other member states to contribute. The more they do so in terms of ships and helicopters, the larger the extension of the Frontex Plus operation will be,” Italy’s Alfano said.

Italy, along with fellow Mediterranean countries Malta, Spain, Cyprus and Greece, has long sought more support from fellow EU countries.

More than 100,000 migrants arrived in Italy so far this year, compared to 42,000 arrivals in the whole of 2013.

But other EU countries have been reluctant to stump up extra money or move towards a more harmonised system for handling asylum applications.

For his part, Gianni Pitella, the leader of the European Parliament’s centre-left Socialist and Democrat group, also called on EU countries to “take action and share responsibility” in a statement on Wednesday.

“Asylum seekers must not have to risk their lives at sea in order to exercise a fundamental right. We need to defend the right to seek asylum and protect people in need”.

Opinion

The Mediterranean Sea: A migration border

Economic, social and political instability in neighbouring countries creates migration, but are more border controls the best response?

EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'

The European Commission's new strategy on artificial intelligence contains nothing that resembles French president's idea for a US-inspired agency for disruptive innovation.

News in Brief

  1. UN expects over $4bn in pledges for Syria
  2. Commission wants more public data made available for reuse
  3. Study: Brexit will hit all European farmers
  4. European media face rise in 'verbal violence' from politicians
  5. Greenland PM to keep power despite poll slump
  6. Commissioner optimistic on FYROM name solution
  7. Italian court keeps NGO migrant rescue boat docked
  8. German Jews warned not to wear skullcap in public

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  11. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  12. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip

Latest News

  1. Whistleblowers could be enforcers of rule of law in Europe
  2. EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'
  3. Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs, Italian admiral says
  4. EU had a plan for Jordan - now it's time to make it work
  5. Time for EU to take charge of global health research agenda
  6. EU in race to set global Artificial Intelligence ethics standards
  7. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  8. Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ