The Presidency of the European People’s Party (EPP) adopted yesterday evening during a meeting in Brussels the following statement on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean:

“The European People’s Party is horrified by this tragedy in the Mediterranean and our sympathies are with those who have lost relatives and friends and those caught up in this inhuman trade.

This, together with other recent events, is becoming the worst refugee crisis on the shores of Europe in the last decade. The sheer and increasing number of deaths calls for a large-scale, swift and decisive response. Trafficking of people is an industry and a crime against humanity – we must combat it with all possible means.

This situation concerns all of Europe and not just the shores of the Mediterranean. We need to treat our external borders as common EU frontiers and not have them be the sole responsibility of one Member State. Immigration needs to be managed in a fair way among Member States. Likewise it is necessary to create true and practical solidarity with those Member States who receive the asylum applications of those who arrive.

In an effort to find such a solution we call on the European Commission, the European Council and Member States to:

  • immediately fund, staff and equip FRONTEX in order for it to be a system fit for purpose;
  • improve mechanisms for coordination and cooperation of immigration policies;
  • examine all instruments at our disposal, including EUROPOL, to fight organised crime, human trafficking and people profiting;
  • increase cooperation with our partners in third countries;
  • look into options such as increasing maritime and air patrols to enhance the possibility to save lives;
  • concentrate more efforts to stabilise war and crisis zones as well as to improve the economic situation in the countries of origin and transit and to deal with unsustainable population growth as a means to fight poverty;

Unity is needed. We need to be unified to save lives and unified to find a common response.”