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Luxembourg, 8 October 2013
Commissioner Malmström's intervention on Lampedusa during the Home Affairs Council press conference
Today I have proposed to deploy an extensive Frontex search and rescue operation that will cover the Mediterranean from Cyprus to Spain. I have asked the Ministers to give their political support and to make the necessary resources available. Such an operation will help lead to quicker tracking, identifying and the rescuing of more vessels and boats. And therefore prevent the loss of lives at sea. The European Union will also benefit, as of December from the technology and information sharing tools available through the EUROSUR system.
The first reactions from Member States are encouraging and we will now look at how we can define the operation in more detail. The Directorate-General for Home Affairs and Frontex will be working along with the Member States' authorities to swiftly address the needs and priorities in order to quickly move to the organisation of the operation.
The recent events are a European tragedy and concern all Member States. This is why we have to act at European level to show concrete solidarity both with migrants and with countries confronted with extreme migratory pressure.
Frontex and EUROSUR will allow us to intervene in the short term and address the most urgent shortcomings, but we also have to develop a medium to long term strategy for a more effective management of migratory flows.
We have to increase our cooperation and dialogue with the countries of origin and transit of the migrants, in order to open more channels for legal migration and strike the criminals at the heart of their operation. In this framework we have already concluded a Mobility Partnership with Morocco and we hope we can do the same with Tunisia and with other North African countries.
Member States have to do more to help refugees and asylum seekers. These people are the most vulnerable and they have already gone through horrible events. It is unacceptable that they have to risk their lives in order to receive protection. Member States have to be more active in resettling refugees to the EU, in order to prevent these deadly crossings. I have made it clear to all Ministers that these are European issues that require European answers. If they want to provide answers and show concrete solidarity they have to give the Commission the appropriate financial resources. I am confident that today all Member States have heard our strong call and will react accordingly.
In the longer term we need a more open approach to migration, to define a common European policy based on the rights of the migrants and of the asylum seekers and on solidarity to both the migrants and the Member States.
Tomorrow I will be in Lampedusa together with President Barroso to pay tribute to the many people who have died trying to reach the European shores and to express my solidarity, along with the Italian authorities and the people of Lampedusa.
Let's make sure that what happened in Lampedusa will be a wakeup call to increase solidarity and mutual support and to prevent similar tragedies in the future.