Today the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament led the push to call on the EU to bring forward a fair and sustainable approach to search and rescue in the Mediterranean.

The S&D Group wanted to send the new European Commission a strong message on the need to reinforce search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

However in a crucial vote that was rejected by just 2 votes, the centre right EPP and the far right, have shown that they are against the principle of solidarity when it comes to saving lives at sea, according to a S&Ds’ press release.

“Far too many people are losing their lives in the Mediterranean. This is an urgent situation and we have a system that is in urgent need of reform. We are not getting that same sense of urgency from the Commission or member states, nor from the centre right European People’s Party. Today made it clear that political groups on the right are willing to abandon their legal and moral obligations. They are failing to act responsibly to save lives at sea. Far right groups often dismiss our approach but it is extremely disappointing that even MEPs on the centre right do not share any sense of solidarity. The priority for our group will continue to be an approach that looks at strengthening search and rescue operations, putting more reliable, more sustainable and permanent solutions in place and avoiding quick-fix measures. If we want to be truly responsible in our actions, search and rescue cannot be left to NGOs alone and we must not criminalise humanitarian assistance in any way,” said Juan Fernandez López Aguilar, rapporteur and chair of the chair of the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs.

“With today’s disappointing vote, we are totally failing to respond to the urgent need for automatic relocation for people rescued at sea. S&D MEPs wanted to make it clear that disembarkation of rescued people should only take place in safe places. Libya, for example, is not a safe state when there are allegations of serious violations of human rights. What the centre right and extremist groups failed to understand today is that legal pathways are the best way of avoiding the tragic loss of lives. This is why we need to support evacuation operations from Libya and step up joint action in resettlement while putting in place humanitarian corridors to the EU. Today was a missed opportunity for the European Parliament and it is a vote that could cost lives,” added Birgit Sippel, S&D coordinator of the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs.