The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee has rejected proposed revisions to guidelines pertaining to Frontex enforcement operations at sea. The vote was 24 votes against the proposed revisions and 11 in favour. MEP Michael Cashman (S&D, UK), withdrew his name as rapporteur after the vote.
According to an EP press statement, “Civil Liberties Committee MEPs rejected the proposal Wednesday, on the grounds that although the guidelines are right to affirm the duty to search for and rescue migrants at sea, this duty should be enshrined in law, not mere guidelines.”
“[R]apporteur Michael Cashman … said that the measure would ‘bring a sense of certainty’ to Member States’ obligations to intercept, search and rescue. What we do not want is last year’s situation’ where ‘two Member States didn’t want to deal’ with possible asylum requests, he said, arguing that with the proposed text, ‘the legal obligation to search and rescue will become something that Member States can no longer shirk’. The rapporteur’s opinion was backed by Council and Commission representatives.”
The EP press statement also said that “[t]he proposed act is the focus of a legal controversy. The European Commission says the act falls under its implementing powers granted by the Schengen Borders Code, whereas Civil Liberties Committee MEPs argue that it should be examined under the ordinary legislative procedure. … The European Parliament has repeatedly called for more parliamentary scrutiny over the FRONTEX external border agency’s activities, as watchdogs criticized its procedures as abusive vis-à-vis migrants. Another proposal being examined by Parliament aims to improve the training of FRONTEX agents in fundamental rights.”
The Times of Malta reported that “[d]uring the past few days MEPs were pressured by both the Commission and the Council to approve the new rules so that they could come into force before the start of the new Frontex patrols before summer. However [Maltese MEP Simon Busuttil, EPP’s coordinator for the Committee] insisted that the new rules were ‘ultra vires’ and that the Commission had overstepped its remit in their drafting.”
Click here for EP Press Statement.
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