Europe needs to uphold its moral and human duty on the issue of irregular migration, an EU official said on Wednesday.
“Let us be frank: the past weeks have not been Europe's finest hour,” Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, told a press conference in Brussels.
Avramopoulos, referring to two vessels carrying 49 people waiting in the Mediterranean for 19 days, said that the EU’s stance on the issue did not comply with its values.
“The European Union is about human values and solidarity. And if human values and solidarity are not upheld it is not Europe,” he noted, adding that the commission was ready to work with the member states to “set up temporary arrangements”.
He also thanked Malta for accepting the refugees and said: “I am very glad that our efforts have shown results in the end and that all those on board are being disembarked right now.”
“With these events, it has become very clear again that all actors, including NGOs, have to respect the rules and act responsibly in order not to perpetuate the business model used by traffickers to exploit human misery,” he said.
Stating that the time had come to finalize reform of the EU's asylum rules, he went on to say: “Completing the EU asylum reform is indispensable to curb irregular migration, to prevent secondary movements, to reduce abuse and to ensure that asylum applications are processed quickly across Europe."
Avramopoulos highlighted that cooperation with third countries played a key role in preventing irregular migration in the first place./aa