Workers' Group Statement on the refugee situation and the renewed crisis in the Mediterranean

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Once again thousands of people are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea in an attempt to reach European shores. The European Union is uncertain and unable to find adequate and effective solutions. The EESC Workers' Group calls on the Estonian Presidency to make finding EU solutions a priority of its Presidency and advance concrete proposals.

This is not just an issue for one or two countries. It is a challenge for the EU and must be dealt with at European level, because EU principles and values are at stake and - not least - because the political consequences of failing to do so affect us all, particularly with the spread of new racist and xenophobic sentiments.  We must overcome the tendency to view the closure of our borders and the setting up new barriers to 'defend ourselves,' as a solution to the current pressures from the arrival of refugees.

The renewed emergency should be dealt with in the spirit of European international responsibility and solidarity. Some new proposals are needed, for example, opening the ports of other Member States to boats carrying refugees under specific conditions. It is important for the EU, in coordination with countries in the southern Mediterranean, to increase measures to fight human smuggling and trafficking.

Closed societies with old and new barriers cannot be the future of Europe. Civil society will also continue to play its role in providing assistance to newly arrived refugees and helping with their integration.

Outside of the immediate refugee emergency, the Workers' Group also emphasises that is also important for Europe to find a united and coordinated approach to improving legal migration to the EU.