Coordinated EU Action Essential for Effective Search and Rescue Operations

Sarhan Basem
North African migrants refugees on a ship in the port of Taranto, Puglia, Italy - August 2015

Renew Europe Urges Swift and Comprehensive Response to Prevent Tragedies in the Mediterranean

Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Following the tragic shipwreck off the Greek coast, which claimed the lives of hundreds of people, the European Parliament is poised to adopt a resolution on Thursday, highlighting the urgent need for EU action to prevent further deaths in the Mediterranean. With a focus on search and rescue (SAR) operations, the resolution aims to establish a coordinated and sustainable approach at the EU level, involving all relevant stakeholders.

Fabienne Keller (L’Europe Ensemble, France), the European Parliament’s rapporteur for the Asylum Procedures regulation and the Renew Europe group’s negotiator on the resolution, emphasized the gravity of the situation. She stated, “We cannot let the Mediterranean continue being a graveyard for vulnerable people seeking international protection. Enough with the ad hoc solutions, we must find a sustainable long-term approach for Search and Rescue missions.”

In the face of this humanitarian crisis, the resolution calls for an EU-coordinated approach to SAR operations, fostering collaboration among all actors involved. Keller further added, “With this resolution, we want to call for an EU-coordinated approach on Search and Rescue at sea in cooperation with all actors involved. It should have been done years ago.”

Efforts to combat criminal smugglers and traffickers, who exploit vulnerable individuals and put lives at risk, are also a key focus. Keller stressed the urgency of dismantling these criminal networks, stating, “We must also stop criminal smugglers and traffickers who exploit vulnerable individuals and endanger lives at sea. A strong push to dismantle these criminal networks is urgent.”

The draft resolution proposed by the Renew Europe group urges the European Parliament to convey a strong message to the Commission and the Council regarding the immediate need for a comprehensive and long-term SAR mission, coordinated by the EU and implemented by Member States and Frontex.

Among the measures proposed, the resolution emphasizes the provision of adequate vessels, equipment, and personnel dedicated to SAR operations by Member States and Frontex. Financial support from the Commission to back life-saving initiatives is also called for.

The resolution shines a spotlight on the implementation of existing rules, calling upon the Commission to assess whether actions taken by some Member States to prevent rescue boats from entering their territorial waters comply with EU and international law. If necessary, appropriate action should be taken to ensure compliance.

In addition to SAR efforts, the resolution stresses the need to create safe and legal pathways for those seeking protection, alongside intensified negotiations on the Asylum and Migration Pact. These complementary actions aim to address the root causes of dangerous migration routes and provide alternatives for individuals in need.

As the European Parliament prepares to adopt this resolution, it sends a strong signal that coordinated EU action is imperative to prevent further tragedies in the Mediterranean. By implementing a comprehensive and sustainable SAR mission, the EU can take significant strides toward safeguarding the lives of vulnerable individuals while dismantling criminal networks that exploit their desperation.

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.