Despite the endless arrival of migrants in boats, rules that supervise operations coordinated by Frontex - the EU's border surveillance agency - are still not binding in cases involving rescues at sea and the landing of rescued boats. These are the changes MEPs would like to see, according to a massive vote, held on 10 December 2013 in Strasbourg. MEPs are in favour of mandatory EU rules.

The controversy surrounding Frontex's role in rescues at sea goes way back. The situation was only aggravated by the recent death of over 360 Eritrean and Somali immigrants off the coast of the small island of Lampedusa. This vote at plenary seems to be a victory for Parliament. In 2012, it had obtained, from the EU Court of Justice (ECJ), the annulment of the Council of Ministers' decision to cancel Frontex's sea border operations rule. On the other hand, rules on maritime border surveillance operations remained binding.

This vote gives rapporteur Carlos Coelho (EPP, Portugal) a negotiating mandate and pushes states - whose ambassadors are gathering in Brussels on 13 December - to take a stand. "It's crucial that we find a solution before the end of the legislature" in May 2014, the Council acknowledges.

In this context, the challenge for the EU's Lithuanian Presidency will be to find a solution with a blocking minority made up of six countries (France, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Malta and Greece). These six countries are asking the EU's Northern member states for more backing in the field of asylum and immigration policies. Italy and Malta in particular have long been pleading - until now in vain - for the revision of the Dublin system. This system specifies that the refugee's country of arrival bears responsibility for him or her and would force them to handle requests made by immigrants who have landed on their side for asylum or accommodation. These six...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT