The European Border Surveillance system (EUROSUR) becomes operational today. The system was finalised earlier this year, just ahead of the latest major tragic losses of life of migrants in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Lampedusa. While the system also includes provisions to ensure authorities share information if they are aware of migrants in distress at sea, it includes no concrete provisions obliging member state authorities to proactively save lives at sea.
The Greens have consistently pushed for a comprehensive EU border policy, which would ensure all EU governments finally take their responsibility to prevent these avoidable tragedies off Europe's coast and to ensure mutual support in doing so.
On Thursday this week, the European Parliament's civil liberties committee is set to vote on new EU legislation on the surveillance of external sea borders. As with the EUROSUR legislation, Green MEPs are again pushing for concrete provisions on saving lives at sea. In particular, the Greens insist that the new rules have to be binding – including on the respect for non-refoulement and not disembarking people in third countries where their lives and safety cannot be guaranteed.