At an extraordinary European summit on migration in Brussels yesterday (24.4), EU leaders agreed on a series of measures aimed at addressing the growing flows of migrants to Europe, which have become an increasing challenge for Mediterranean countries, particularly Greece and Italy. The leaders agreed to step up efforts to clamp down on trafficking rings and to destroy vessels used to smuggle migrants to Europe, rather than confiscating them and allowing them to be auctioned off, as this often leads to the vessels ending up in the hands of criminals again.

A 10-point plan action plan drawn up by the European Commission foresees the strengthening of cooperation between the common border, law enforcement and justice agencies – Frontex, Europol and Eurojust.

"The tragedy in Lampedusa and the shocking reality we face every day in the Aegean underline the need for the EU to develop an effective, humane policy on immigration based on solidarity, particularly for the front line Mediterranean countries," said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ahead of the meeting.

In his remarks following the special meeting, EC President Donald Tusk said that saving the lives of innocent people is the first priority, but "that is not just about rescuing people at sea; it is also about stopping the smugglers and addressing irregular migration."

  • Tsipras Meets with Merkel on Sidelines
On the margins of the EU summit on migration yesterday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels. "We pointed out the substantial progress recently achieved in the negotiations with the Brussels Group as well as the fact that a large part of the distance has been covered," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said referring to the Greek financial crisis and the bailout package. 

Speaking after a private meeting which she described as "constructive" with Tsipras, Merkel said that everything must be done to prevent Greece running out of money before a deal is reached with its international creditors.

See also: EC Europa Press Release (23.04); UNHCR Joint statement on Mediterranean crossings