On 27 October 2020, Spanish Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Manu Pineda and Sira Rego of the Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left sent a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“The Spanish Ministry of the Interior has published a report, entitled ‘Irregular Immigration 2020’, with data compiled between January and October. The report shows that the total number of migrants reaching the peninsula by sea has fallen, as has the total number arriving in Ceuta and Melilla. However, the number of people arriving in the Canary Islands has risen exponentially, by 688.1%.
This is a consequence of the EU’s migration policies, which have prioritised the militarisation of the Mediterranean and Ceuta and Melilla by building new fences, which, far from ending migration flows, have led only to the opening of new, longer and less safe routes for migrants.
- How does the Commission assess the impact of its migration policies, considering that the closure of routes such as the one through the central Mediterranean has led to the immediate opening up of other routes, such as via the Canary Islands, as illustrated by these figures?
- Does the Commission intend to review the budget lines of its migration policy in order to invest more in reception and relocation, and thus avoid similar situations in the future?
- Does the Commission consider it necessary to set up a civil/public rescue corps, as exists in Spain, to prevent further deaths at sea?”
On 22 December, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, responded on behalf of the European Commission and reported that:
“With the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, the EU is aiming to strengthen comprehensive and tailor-made partnerships with key third countries, including to support improvements to their migration management and asylum systems and to address root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement. Additionally, in cooperation with the relevant Member States, the Commission, together with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, continues to monitor closely the situation on all relevant irregular migration routes to the EU.
The ongoing Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund supports Member States in setting up adequate reception conditions. The future Home Affairs funds will also support them for this purpose (2021-2027). The Commission proposal for the new Multilateral Financial Framework has significantly increased resources for the migration and asylum policy compared to the previous financial period. The new Pact on Migration and Asylum clearly highlights that the solidarity mechanism will primarily focus on relocation and return sponsorship.
Saving the lives of those in distress at sea is a moral duty, as well a legal obligation for Member States under international law. Within the new Pact, the Commission proposed a more coordinated approach to search and rescue (SAR), based on solidarity, and issued a recommendation(2) aimed at enhancing cooperation in this field.”
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