Latest World News

EPP boss Weber calls for federal police operation in the Mediterranean


The leader of the European People’s Party has called for a “new European rescue initiative” for refugees in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, Weber emphasized that not everyone who was rescued should have access to Europe.

In view of the many dead refugees in the Mediterranean, the head of the European People’s Party (EPP), Manfred Weber, has called for a new European rescue initiative. “I would like Europe to take responsibility together again, as we did before,” said the CSU politician to the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”.

Safeguarding and saving lives in the Mediterranean is the first task for Europeans – and it is a state task, not one of non-governmental organisations. He would like “that, in addition to supporting rescue organizations such as Sea-Eye, we, as the Federal Police, would also send ships to the Mediterranean, for example, in order to take on responsibility there together as Europeans”.

This year already 50,000 migrants

For months, many people have been trying to reach southern Italy from North Africa via the so-called Mediterranean route. Recently there have been fatal accidents. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the route is the most dangerous of all refugee routes.

According to official figures from the Ministry of the Interior in Rome, more than 50,000 migrants have reached Italy on boats since the beginning of the year – in the same period last year there were around 19,600. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 980 people have died or have gone missing during the dangerous crossings since the beginning of the year.

The Federal Ministry of Transport is apparently planning to further restrict sea rescue.

Weber: Not everyone should stay

According to Weber, the Mediterranean is a dead zone. “It’s terrible, and we Europeans are now going on holiday again knowing that a lot of people are dying there.” However, he emphasized that saving lives does not automatically mean gaining access to Europe.

A distinction must be made at the EU’s external borders between people who are legally refugees and those who hope for a better life. “We can’t say: everyone who comes to Europe can stay.” Those who have no reason to be admitted would have to be turned away at the external border.

Federal honor in the Mediterranean operation

From May 2015 to June 2019, the Bundeswehr participated in the sea rescue of shipwrecked people as part of the EU naval mission “Operation Sophia” in the Mediterranean. The core mission of the mission was initially to fight criminal smugglers in the central Mediterranean.

The reason for the end of the naval operation was that the member states could not agree on a system for the distribution of migrants rescued from distress at sea.