This week during its plenary vote in Strasbourg, the European Parliament approved the resolution on the European Humanitarian Visas system, with an absolute majority of 429 votes in favour.
Since third-country nationals seeking protection currently have no EU-wide legal channels for entering EU territory and triggering protection mechanisms under the Common European Asylum System, many embark on hazardous journeys, with concomitant risks and loss of human life. The absence of ‘protection- sensitive’ mechanisms for accessing EU territory, against a background of EU extraterritorial border/migration management and control, undermines Member States' refugee and human rights obligations. Humanitarian visas may offer a remedy by enabling third-country nationals to apply in situ for entry to EU territory on humanitarian grounds and thereby ensuring that Member States meet their international obligations. This tool should also contribute to optimising Member States’ and the EU’s budget for asylum, law enforcement procedures, and search and rescue activities, as stressed during the press conference by the rapporteur of the proposal, MEP Fernando Lopez Aguilar. The rapporteur has also pointed out how in recent years NGOs have consistently opposed the loss of human lives, resulting precisely from the lack of a facilitated access system for asylum seekers, for accessing the European Union.
During his intervention after the vote, Lopez Aguilar asked for a prompt referral to the European Commission in order to start the Trilogue negotiations on the European Parliament resolution as soon as possible.
SOLIDAR welcomes the approval of a humanitarian visa system as significant progress towards enhancing the respect of the human and fundamental rights of migrants, who are too often subject to a widespread populist and anti-immigration discourse, seen most recently around the UN Global Migration Compact. This resolution is a clear message about the importance of the rule of law in managing the migration emergency and overcoming the impasse in Europe’s management of migration, placing the safety and protection of people at the forefront.