Address in Strasbourg: Unacceptable situation for refugees in southern Europe

Address in the plenary by Cecilia Wikström, Strasbourg 18 january 2017:

Speech 18 january strasbourg

– Mr President, the snow is falling and the temperature is falling. The harsh winter weather has now arrived, even in the southernmost part of the EU – in the southern Member States – and more refugees are faced with unacceptable living conditions. Thankfully, at the moment, NGOs and international organisations have been providing emergency relief. I would like to reach out to give recognition and wholeheartedly felt thanks to them at this time.

At the same time, the European governments and the Union institutions have to improve the management of this situation. The conditions are unacceptable for EU citizens, and are equally unacceptable for people who have reached our shores to ask for refuge. We must – and can – do much better than this. I realise that the relocation from Greece and Italy has not worked. Therefore, in the Dublin Regulation that I am responsible for and currently working on, I will try to present some ideas on how we can solve some of these issues, but these are long-term solutions. What we need to see now are emergency measures to assist all refugees on our continent – both those in Member States and those who are stuck in the countries of the Western Balkans. I hope that Member States and the Commission will do all that they can to provide the necessary assistance, because today we need both emergency measures and passion and compassion for those in need. We need to reach out in this humanitarian crisis on European soil. Generations to come will judge us on what we do, or what we avoid doing, today. That goes without saying. Commissioner, I wish you well in all your efforts. Let us try to work together to solve this.

Link to video of the speech.