EU Presents Plan of Action after Lampedusa Tragedy, Activates EUROSUR

Written by | Thursday, December 5th, 2013

The European Commission on Wednesday presented a plan of action designed to fight emigrants trafficking after the Lampedusa tragedy two months ago and prevent the loss of life in other deadly shipwrecks in the Mediterranean.
Through this plan of action, the EC says it is proposing ways to increase solidarity and mutual support in order to prevent migrants’ death in the Mediterranean and to better address migratory and asylum flows.
The concrete actions proposed by an EC chaired Task-Force for the Mediterranean, with the aim to bolster EU’s policies and tools in the short to medium term, cover five main areas, on top of which comes border surveillance through enhancing EU member states’ capacity to detect boats in the Mediterranean to be able to provide assistance to those in need and help saving lives, says an EC release.
This new strategy aims at coordinating patrolling in the area under a common and coordinated platform-from Cyprus to Spain, focusing on the key migratory routes.
The action plan assures shipmasters and merchant vessels that helping migrants in distress will not lead to sanctions of any kind against them and that fast and safe disembarkation points will be available.
Part of its efforts to improve struggle against illegal immigration, prevent loss of life in the Mediterranean and better address migratory and asylum flows, the European Union also activated on Monday a new European Border Surveillance System called EUROSUR.
EUROSUR is designed to support the Member States in their efforts to reduce the number of illegal immigrants entering the European Union by improving their situational awareness at their external borders and increasing the reaction capability of their information and border control authorities.
EUROSUR will be operational in 30 countries in total. In this first phase, it will become operational in 19 countries, the 18 EU Member States at the southern and eastern external borders and the Schengen associated country Norway. As of 1 December 2014, the remaining 8 EU Member States and 3 Schengen associated countries will join EUROSUR. Ireland and the United Kingdom, which are not part of the Schengen space, may nonetheless participate in the EUROSUR cooperation.
A budget of €224 million has been earmarked for EUROSUR for the 2014-2020 period.
The action plan presented on Wednesday also provides for assistance and solidarity among Member States which need to have efficient asylum, migration and integration systems in place. As to those dealing with high migratory pressure, new tools will be available to extend them the needed support at the financial, material and human levels. Funding will be provided to these countries to improve, between others, reception capacity, processing capacity, screening and registration capacity.
Fight against trafficking, smuggling and organised crime is among the areas covered by the plan of action which calls for enhanced practical cooperation and exchange of information including with third countries. In this vein it advocates supporting capacity-building programmes to address smuggling and trafficking in human beings in North Africa, key countries of origin and countries of first asylum (also through trainings for law enforcement and the judiciary).
The plan of action also deals with regional protection, resettlement and legal ways to access Europe to ensure that those in need of protection arrive safely to the EU.
In order to stimulate resettling, future EU funding for 2014/2020 will be available to support additional efforts and commitments in this field. The European Commission intends to make available a lump sum up to €6.000 per resettled refugee.
As to actions in cooperation with third countries, the EC says it has just concluded the negotiations for the Mobility Partnership agreements with Tunisia and Azerbaijan. These agreements will soon officially add to the five already in place with Cape Verde, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Morocco.
The Task force deems that new dialogues on migration, mobility and security should be launched with additional Southern Mediterranean countries, notably with Egypt, Libya, Algeria and Lebanon.
I also deems that information campaigns could help raising awareness about the risks of irregular channels of migration and the threats posed by smugglers and traffickers, as well as informing about channels available for legal migration.

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