In case we still had any doubts, today we realised that when we all work together, and push for our common objectives, Europe can move fast and steady. It’s been less than a month since April 19th tragedy in the waters of the Mediterranean. As I said, it’s a shame it took almost a thousand new casualties for our Union to finally tackle seriously the issue of migrations. But we started working an today, with Frans Timmermans and Dimitris Avramopoulos, we presented the European Commission’s Agenda on migration.
In Brussels jargon – which I am not a great fan of – they say we went for a “comprehensive approach”. Of course we need to tackle the emergency, and save as many lives as we can. But we also need to reduce the amount of men and women who put their existence in the hands of human traffickers.
The details of the Agenda are here. In the press conference (video) I focused on its external aspects. We need to work with our partners on the root causes of migration, including poverty, conflicts, and the prevention of natural disasters. We also need to improve our cooperation with transit countries, and this morning we announced we will reinforce our EUCAP Sahel civil mission in Niger and our presence in some key hubs for smugglers, such as Agadez. And of course we increased our commitment with all Libyan factions, together with the UN and the special envoy Bernardino Leon. Thirdly, we presented options for a naval Common Security and Defence (CSDP) operation, complementary to Triton and Poseidon, with the mandate to disrupt the business model of human traffickers. I expect next Monday’s Foreign affairs council to take the necessary decisions to start off this new mission.
The Council and Member States will now have to do their part. I really hope everyone will take their own responsibilities. We are starting to understand that faced with this kind of tragedies – thousands of people who die as they pursue the dream of a happier life in Europe – we can only succeed if we stand united. We now have the tools to take action: what is being tested is our sense of purpose, and we finally realise out true potential.