Members of the European Parliament have praised citizens helping migrants across Europe for their “true adherence to European values.” As the European Parliament convened for a new term, MEPs have voted to back proposals to relocate 160,000 migrants across Europe under a Common European Asylum Policy and to keep borders within the Schengen Area open.
During the session Parliamentarians voted by an overwhelming majority to approve a resolution praising the efforts of groups and individuals across Europe who are mobilising in large numbers to welcome and provide aid to refugees and migrants. “Such actions demonstrate true adherence to European values and are a sign of hope for the future of Europe”, the MEPs agreed.
Having backed an emergency proposal on Wednesday to relocate 40,000 migrants across Europe, and to take the personal preference of the migrant into account when allocation their destination, MEPs today further agreed to the relocation of even more migrants from Italy, Greece and Hungary – the Commission wants to see 160,000 relocated.
They also voiced ambitions to scrap the Dublin Agreement, whereby migrants are supposed to register for asylum in the first country they arrive at, making a mockery of the idea that asylum seeking status be granted only to those in immediate danger, and called for the Common European Asylum System to be properly implemented, in order to ensure that “consistent and humane standards” are applied across the EU.
Even as borders closed to travellers around Europe to quell scenes of violence and chaos, the Parliamentarians vowed to uphold the Schengen Area of free movement, although they did stress that tougher action needed to be taken to stop external borders being breached. They suggested cracking down on people smugglers as a way to solve that problem.
Ska Keller, a German member of the Greens/EFA group who is responsible for steering through Parliament the initial plans to relocate 40,000 migrants told the Parliament’s news service: “The report the Parliament voted on today actually says that the 40,000 can only be a start. We need to have a permanent emergency relocation system, so that we can swiftly act when there is an emergency.
“The report that we voted on should be a model for the new emergency relocation scheme. The Commission has taken on board our proposal to take into account the interest of refugees. I think this really needs to be done. It is important that we put the focus on what refugees themselves want – such as living where they already have family, settling in a country where they speak the language or developing skills – in order to create a win-win situation for refugees and the whole of society.”
Yesterday Guy Verhofstad, leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), told his colleagues: “The heart of the problem is the lack of political will, and in fact the lack of unity between the member states.
“Stop saying this is a crisis of Europe. It is not a crisis of Europe. It is in fact a crisis of a lack of Europe.”