The Mediterranean Task Force was set up by the Council in October 2013 to identify priority actions to prevent further migrant deaths at sea and, in December 2013, the Commission presented a communication recommending 37 short and medium-term operational actions in five main areas, including enhanced border surveillance, with Frontex playing a fundamental role, and deployment of the Eurosur network.
At the meeting of EU Home Affairs and Foreign Ministers, held on 20 April 2015 in the wake of the tragic events occurring in the Mediterranean, three main lines of action were agreed: (a) prioritising the fight against organised crime, human trafficking and smuggling networks, (b) stepping up the effectiveness of Frontex sea rescue operations and (c) fairer burden sharing with regard to resettlement and relocation plans.
In view of this:
1. Can the Commission say how Frontex operations will be stepped up and what means will be deployed for this purpose?
2. Are policy changes being discussed with a view to ensuring fair internal refugee distribution within EU borders, with all Member States assuming their share of the social and economic burden?
Answer given by Mr Avramopoulos on behalf of the Commission
In its European Agenda on Migration (EAM)(1) adopted on 13 May 2015, the Commission announced a comprehensive strategy to deal with the current crisis and to manage better migration in all its parts.
It has proposed, among the immediate actions, the reinforcement of Joint Operations Triton and Poseidon Sea with the dual objectives of assisting Member States in Search and Rescue (SAR) at sea, whilst ensuring effective control at the external borders of the EU. This proposal was endorsed by the European Council and the Council and both operations were significantly reinforced in terms of budget allocated to them and resources deployed in the course of 2015. Triton is still ongoing, whereas Poseidon was replaced as of 28 December 2015 by the Rapid Intervention Poseidon implying additional deployments. Altogether 4 aircrafts, 3 helicopters and 21 patrol ships were deployed in the two operations(2).
The Commission has set out in a communication of 6 April 2016(3) the different paths to move towards a more humane and efficient European asylum policy, including options for reform of the Dublin system. Based on the feedback it receives to this communication, the Commission presented, on 4 May 2016, proposals to reform the Common European Asylum System,(4) which includes a fairness mechanism to ensure no Member State is left with a disproportionate pressure on its asylum system.
(1) A comprehensive set of information could be found through the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/migration
(2) As of 3 April 2016.
(4) COM(2016)0271 final.