EPP leader urges crackdown on human trafficking
The leader of parliament’s biggest group has called on the European commission to 'immediately' resume a scheme aimed at combating human trafficking into Europe.
The commission’s Nautilus II mission, as it is commonly called, is a continuation of a successful patrolling exercise carried out last year.
Launched in early July, it came to an end last week.
"It appears that the mission has been effective in reducing the number of illegal immigrants heading to Malta," said EPP leader Joseph Daul.
"Certainly, when one compares the latest figures to those in the same period in June, the number of arrivals in Malta are 50 per cent down."
"But if reductions in numbers are indeed due to the effectiveness of the mission, then it is clear that it does not make any sense at all to stop them in peak season, during the crucial summer months of August and September," the French MEP said.
Daul wrote a letter to EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini urging the Italian - who is also commission vice-president - to resume the mission without any delay.
"I am sure," declares Daul in his letter, "that your intervention will have a determining impact on the resumption of the mission in the Mediterranean area."
Over recent years, the Mediterranean has been experiencing an increasing number of crossings from the northern shores of Africa, with Malta being directly on the route.
Uncounted numbers die every year.
In a bid to tackle the problem, the Maltese government launched a joint operation with Greece, patrolling the southern borders of Europe.
It is possible that Malta will be able to access EU funding for the operation, and Frattini has asked all member states to help out with the cost of the mission.