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Statements by the co-chairs of the delegation to Sicily on migration as an unprecedented challenge requiring a holistic approach


Mr Jean Arthuis (ALDE, FR), co-chair of the delegation on part of the Committee on Budgets: "We praise the efforts by the Italian authorities to have put in place such a complex reception system and, more in general, to cope with an exceptional migratory pressure at Italy’s sea borders."

"We praise the efforts by the Italian authorities to have put in place such a complex reception system and, more in general, to cope with an exceptional migratory pressure at Italy’s sea borders.

The financial and logistical resources provided by the EU are by all means not sufficient. The capacity of Italy’s reception centres is some 83,000 places, and Italy spends over €1 billion every year just to take care of those making it across the Mediterranean.

The member states have to understand that Italy’s borders are the EU borders, and a better management of the migratory flows is our common responsibility. The EU has to stop acting as a mere migration coordinator. The real burden now falls mainly on frontline member states, like Italy.

We have to speed up the legal procedures for those who have the right to be granted international protection, but also swiftly apply age-determination procedures in case of serious doubt about the allegedly unaccompanied minors and repatriate economic migrants to safe countries.

Finally we have to consider extending at European level the bilateral agreements Italy has drawn up with countries such as Tunisia and Egypt to implement effective return policies for economic migrants, offering those countries economic support and development aid.

Migration poses an unprecedented challenge to the EU and we have a true duty of solidarity towards those who flee war, poverty and persecutions. Currently we are more passive spectators than significant contributors and actors in solving the problems. There is an urgency to remedy this national approach. This is a common problem requiring a European solution".

Ms Iliana Iotova (S&D, BG), co-chair of the delegation on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs:

"In Italy, we saw that the reception system was too often fragmented, inconsistent, left to the goodwill of regional authorities, mayors, local police representatives and NGOs.

There is an urgent need to radically change the Dublin regulation on asylum seekers. It was agreed in a moment in time where the migratory pressure was not as high as it is now.

We have to solve the problem of economic migrants in a better and more coordinated way. Legal procedures for their repatriation are lengthy and therefore expensive, and in the meantime Italy has to take care of hosting them.

The visit to Italy has proven even more the need for a holistic EU approach to migration. The recent measures proposed by the Commission are a first step in the good direction, but they are not enough. We are deeply disappointed with the short-sighted results of the last Justice and Home Affairs Council, where ministers decided the relocation of only around 32,000 asylum seekers in the next two years, instead of the originally-planned 40,000. The number should be increased, and the system has to be obligatory and permanent.

The proposal to create hotspots, such as the one being set up in Catania, with the participation of EU agencies, national authorities of the host State and experts from the other member states, will help in the relocation process and in creating a truly common approach.

In fact what we currently see is an endemic lack of solidarity among the EU member states. Countries such as Italy, Greece, Malta and Bulgaria are left alone dealing with a global problem, for which a global, holistic solution is needed at the EU level".


A European Parliament delegation visited Sicily (Italy) between 22 and 24 July to assess how best to spend EU funding for migration measures, including reception facilities, and how the new "hotspot" concept for screening and identification of migrants would be organised. For more details on the delegation, read here.


Further information and audiovisual material of the delegation

Programme and MEPs who went to Sicily (press release, 20.07.2015)
Video - extracts from the press conference by the co-chairs (23.07.2015)
Video - meetings with staff in charge of Frontex, joint operation Triton and EASO (23.07.2015)
Video - visit of the Centro di Primo Soccorso ed Accoglienza of Pozzallo; meeting with the Mayor of Pozzallo (23.07.2015)
Photos of the delegation (23-24.07.2015)
Video coverage (EbS+ on 23.07.2015 and EbS on 24.07.2015)