The European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium | Photo: EPA/Olivier Hoslet
The European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium | Photo: EPA/Olivier Hoslet

The European Parliament has adopted a report calling for better protection of migrants from human rights violations. A narrow majority voted in favor of the paper, which states that the EU commission and some EU countries overuse informal migrant return agreements.

On Wednesday, a majority of the European Parliament signed off on a report that criticizes the European Commission and some EU countries for overusing informal agreements on the return and readmission of irregular migrants. A total of 358 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted for the paper, 309 against it, 26 MEPs abstained.

The report calls on the European Commission to negotiate and sign formal migrant readmission agreements with non-EU countries.

In the paper, MEPs criticized that informal arrangements lack democratic scrutiny and parliamentary oversight, so that authorities are often not held accountable for human rights abuses against migrants. The MEPs also argued that migrants whose rights were violated often lacked access to the judicial system under informal agreements.

How much money is going where?

The MEPs called on the EU commission to make more information available about what EU funds are going to non-EU countries as part of migration deals.

The report criticized that a complete, public overview of EU funding to non-EU countries is not available.

They also asked for detailed information on any other support measures provided by EU agencies, such as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex, in order to ensure that the European Parliament can efficiently scrutinize how the EU budget is spent.

Controversial migration deals

"Cooperation with third countries does not absolve the EU of meeting its human rights obligations towards migrants and refugees," said rapporteur Tineke Strik -- a Dutch member of the Green Party -- after the vote. "These obligations must be fulfilled through better monitoring, more transparency on the use of EU funds and enhanced democratic oversight from the European Parliament."

The EU and some of its member states have made informal bilateral agreements with other countries that regard border controls and the return irregular migrants.

Italy, for example, has made deals with Libyan officials and Tunisia to curb migration from northern Africa to its shores. These deals are highly controversial, especially Italy's funding of the Libyan coast guard has been much criticized, given the human rights abuses migrants returned to Libya face.


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