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European Commission

Statement

Brussels, 7 October 2014

Statement by EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on operation Triton

"Italy and the EU Agency Frontex are making good progress in preparing the joint operation Triton, coordinated by Frontex. The main elements have now been agreed and Frontex has sent out a call for participation to EU Member States. So many desperate people are trying to cross the Mediterranean, fleeing conflict and war. The EU and its Member States need to respond and take action to save lives. With the launch of the Triton operation, tailored to the needs and requests defined by the Italian authorities, the EU can show concrete solidarity to Italy, by reinforcing its border surveillance and supporting its humanitarian efforts. I therefore hope that Member States will now heed Frontex's call for equipment and guest officers, so that Triton can be up and running soon. The Mediterranean is a European sea and a European responsibility.

With its Mare Nostrum operation, Italy has done a formidable job in assisting thousands upon thousands of refugees who have risked their lives by trying to cross the Mediterranean in rickety vessels. It is clear that the Triton operation cannot and will not replace Mare Nostrum. The future of Mare Nostrum remains in any case an Italian decision. Triton will not affect the responsibilities of Member States in controlling their part of the EU's external borders, and their obligations to the search and rescue of people in need. I am confident that Italy will continue to fulfil its European and international obligations and the European Commission stands ready to continue providing European assistance to such initiatives.

In order to be successful, these efforts at sea need to be complemented by other measures. It is vital that EU states now fully implement the Common European Asylum System, and that a serious effort will be made to establish a truly European program for the resettlement of refugees. The challenges that the EU is facing requires all Member States to take responsibility, and offer protection to those in need."

For more information

Frontex Joint Operation 'Triton' – Concerted efforts to manage migration in the Central Mediterranean MEMO/14/566

Contacts :

Michele Cercone (+32 2 298 09 63)

Tove Ernst (+32 2 298 67 64)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail


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