24th April 2015

European Council pledges to fight deaths in Mediterranean

Following tragedies of hundreds of African refugees in the Mediterranean, where the smugglers´ overweight boats sank right before Europe´s borders, European Council President Donald Tusk called an emergency meeting of EU heads of state and government to find a solution to the problem. Indeed, the number of deaths on world seas is dominated by the tragic record of the EU´s southern border. On 23 April, the EU leaders pledged to triple the funding of EU´s monitoring operations in the Mediterranean, Triton and Poseidon, from €3 million a month to €9 million, at least until 2016. This will mean that the EU will pledge the same amount of money as the canceled Italian naval operation Mare Nostrum, which was in general very successful in averting unnecessary drownings. In more general terms, the EU pledged to fight trafficking networks and smugglers in North African countries, to work with its neighbors and to search for and ultimately destroy the vessels in question. Also, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy was tasked to launch work on a future EU military operation. Although some countries, including Belgium, pushed for more solidarity among EU members concerning asylum seekers, clear pledges were not reached. Some countries, caught in populist calls for less immigration, refuse to accept asylum-seekers. According to current laws, the refugees apply for asylum in the country on the territory of which they arrive. Thus, almost all asylum-seekers end up in Italy. Southern EU members have long called upon their Northern and Eastern partners to share the burden and accept a number of refugees. So far, such calls were largely ignored, with a rare exception of Swedish offers for help.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic