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European Commission

Cecilia Malmström

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs

Commissioner Malmström's intervention during the press conference in Lampedusa

Press conference/Lampedusa

9 October 2013

Mi aggiungo ai Presidenti Letta e Barroso e al Ministro Alfano nell'esprimere le mie condoglianze alle famiglie delle vittime.

Questa tragedia interpella la coscienza di ognuno di noi.

Ogni vita persa per raggiungere le coste europee pesa sull'Europa e su ognuno dei suoi abitanti.

Vorrei anche esprimere la nostra gratitudine ed il nostro sostegno agli abitanti di Lampedusa.

Il vostro coraggio, la vostra compassione, la vostra abnegazione sono un esempio che deve ispirare gli Stati Membri dell'Unione europea sulla strada di una vera politica europea dell'immigrazione e dell'asilo basate sulla solidarietà, sulla condivisione e sul sostegno reciproco.

I will never forget the sight of 280 coffins today. I will bear this with me for the rest of my life and I think they express something that we need to think about in the European Union, this isn't the European Union we want.

The recent tragic events call for action at EU level. In order to prevent these tragedies we have to act in the short, medium and long term. In the short term we have to increase our search and rescue efforts.

Yesterday at the Home Affairs Council, the EU Ministers of the Interior strongly agreed to set up a task force led by the Commission, involving the Italian authorities and the Mediterranean countries concerned as well as Frontex and other agencies.

I propose to launch a wide search and rescue Frontex operation covering the Mediterranean from Cyprus to Spain. This will allow for better and quicker tracking, identifying and rescuing of boats and vessels.

In the medium and long term we have to increase our dialogue and cooperation with the countries of origin and transit of migrants.

This is crucial if we want to fight the criminal networks exploiting human despair and if we want to stop these deadly journeys.

We also have to open more channels for regular migration. Offering legal ways to come to the EU will reduce the number of people who will put themselves in the hands of smugglers and traffickers.

Member States have to do more to resettle people in need of asylum and international protection. I call for all Member States to do more and work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to identify vulnerable people and to bring them to Europe and give them shelter, thus avoiding that they put their lives at risk to obtain the protection they are entitled to.

Member States also have to identify and use alternative ways for refugees to be sheltered in their territory. We must also check for the possibility of humanitarian visas, as well as in specific cases to ask for asylum in an EU country outside its territory.

We also need a change of approach towards migration. The recent events have shown that this restrictive approach is not a sustainable one and that it is now time to move towards more openness and solidarity.

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