PES President responds to the migrant deaths this weekend



PES President Sergei Stanishev responded to the tragic events in the seas between Africa and Italy this weekend: “Hundreds of people - mothers, fathers, sons and daughters - died off the Libyan coast this weekend. This is a loss of human life, on an unprecedented scale, if the numbers are confirmed. The PES family expresses its profound condolences to the families of all victims.”

The PES President Sergei Stanishev called for “solidarity and coordination between all EU countries in responding to this migration, as well as new systems for legal migration and strong refugee protection, so that people, desperate to come to the EU, don’t risk their life making the journey. This must be coupled with action to tackle the criminal gangs profiteering from the human trafficking.

Perhaps the most tragic element of this weekend’s events was the predictability. Boats, laden with migrants, have and will continue to arrive. We need to react not only by launching rescue operations, but most fundamentally by preventing the desperate circumstances which compel people to leave their homes and make this perilous journey. We must tackle the issue of unstable governments in Northern Africa where no counterparts exist for EU governments to coordinate with.

The PES President welcomed his counterparts’, including the S&D group in the European Parliament and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, proposal to have an Extraordinary Council summit on this topic. All agree that any decisions taken regarding migration policy should respect the fundamental rights of migrants. We must not allow populist parties (including racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic) to cynically exploit these tragedies by proposing simple answers to complicated problems.

On 25 May the PES is organising a conference in Rome on ‘Progressive answers to Europe’s challenges in the Mediterranean: a new foreign, security and development policy for the Middle East and North Africa’ which will discuss this subject with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini.