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Reactie van de Valletta Top: Europa moet meer vooruitgang boeken op het gebied van ‘veilige routes’, nieuw geld en het hooghouden van de mensenrechten, zegt Richard Howitt, lid van het Europees Parlement




The Valletta Summit on the refugee crisis exposes the need for Europe to make more progress on ‘safe routes’ for refugees, to find genuine ‘new money’ and to ensure human rights are not compromised, according to the leading representative of the European Parliament’s Socialist and Democrat Group  who was present at the summit.

British MEP Richard Howitt, who represented the second-largest group in the European Parliament in Valletta, says Europe must recognize that there is a failure of the right to protection for the refugees and that numbers can’t be avoided.

Richard Howitt MEP represented the president of the Socialist and Democrat Group at the meeting of leaders of social democrat parties, held as part of the EU’s Valletta Summit.

Socialistische leiders komen op elke top van de EU-Raad bijeen om hun argumenten te coördineren. De leiders die op deze bijeenkomst vertegenwoordigd waren, kwamen uit Bulgarije, Tsjechië, Duitsland, Griekenland, Slowakije en Zweden en werden ontvangen door de Maltese premier Joseph Muscat.

Reacting to the Valletta Summit conclusions on Thursday 12 November), Richard Howitt MEP said: “The ‘right to protection’ according to the Geneva Convention, is currently failing.

“When we talk about ‘shared responsibility’ that should mean taking shared responsibility for this failure and how to remedy it.

“We cannot avoid the fact that this is partly about numbers.  That means there must be full and rapid implementation of the EU permanent relocation mechanism.  There can be no back-sliding.”


Howitt betoogde dat er voor Europa nog steeds moeilijke vragen bestaan.

He added: “Everyone says that you cannot combat unsafe illegal migration, without providing safe routes for legal migration.

“In addition, although we should celebrate the setting up of the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, there is proper cynicism if the assistance which Europe is giving, is simply a reassignment of existing monies.

“We should be wary of saying to African countries that we offer new assistance for new cooperation in return, if the reality is that we are not.

“It is also important to recognize too, that there has been some compromise on respect for human rights.

“We have to be unyielding that any EU co-operation on refugee returns must fully respect the principle of non-refoulement or ‘no forced return’.”

Arguing that Social Democrat parties must give real leadership in Europe in response to the refugee crisis, Howitt explained: “As Social Democrats, we have a shared commitment to a comprehensive approach which balances priorities to receive refugees with those to manage migration flows; to provide the right short-term response to current pressures but to remember the long-term perspective which allows us to address the underlying causes of the refugee crisis in the first place.

“The focus of this trust fund must address this long-term perspective by stimulating African development. We should focus on making the newly agreed UN Sustainable Development Goals, the basis of the EU’s development policy.

“Of course increased funding is only one element in tackling the current crisis. Refugees will continue to come until the wars in the Middle East and in Africa are resolved. We welcome the recent progress in Libya and the ongoing diplomatic efforts in Syria but still far more needs to be done here, as well as in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.”

As a British Labour MEP, Howitt also told the meeting that his party opposed David Cameron’s decision to stay outside the joint EU scheme.

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