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Statement on the shipwreck off the coast of Greece

We deplore and regret the devastating tragedy that took the lives of potentially hundreds off the coast of Greece two days ago. This is one of Europe’s deadliest disasters in recent years and is a stain on the migration policy that EU’s Member States and international partners have led in the past decade. It shows the inability of the EU to appropriately and humanely manage mass population movements, at a time when more people will seek safety out of their country due to environmental reasons as well as economic and war-related ones.

More than 50,000 people are said to have died trying to reach Europe since 1993. Our Union cannot let this continue any longer.

We are calling for a comprehensive and harmonised approach to migration and asylum in the EU and for a revision of the European Commission’s 2020 Pact on Migration and Asylum. The core of any policy should be that refugees and asylum seekers are, first and foremost, human beings and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. The EU must implement mandatory burden-sharing mechanisms and adequate resources to ensure a fair distribution of responsibilities among Member States. We need to ensure that Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, operates within the framework of EU values and human rights with strengthened accountability and that its work is duly scrutinised.

The answer to this disaster must be one of openness and support; the EU must reject proposals and policies relying on fences or walls as a ‘Fortress Europe’ runs contrary to the founding values of the EU. Societal and cultural integration of migrants must be promoted alongside positive narratives that will reduce fear and prejudice towards them.

Europe must be an open continent that embraces diversity and offers opportunities to those seeking refuge.

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