The spate of deaths by drowning this spring has been harrowing. More must be done to prevent the problem arising, and more to rescue those where a disaster does occur . The policing,patrolling and life saving where needed has to be done by those EU countries and North African countries with ports nearest to the problem, as they have the vessels able to deploy quickly.
The countries and authorities who could do most to stop this problem are the North African states whose ports the ships leave. The ships should be properly checked for seaworthiness and to prevent overloading before departures.
There is a common EU asylum policy. Broadly the policy has to be applied at the first EU country an asylum seeker reaches. They should be permitted entry if they are fleeing persecution and in need of asylum, but not if they are economic migrants. The EU’s borders are as good- or as weak- as the weakest link in them in all the member states. That is one reason why many in the UK would rather have complete national control of our borders, and make our own judgements about asylum without EU law.
The EU itself has been asked to help Italy, currently facing a large part of the present problem.The Italian authorities, assisted by the EU, need to do more to track down the criminals who take people’s money to risk them in unsafe boats. This vile trade which has led to so many deaths needs a strong police response, and may well need co-operation between EU member states and the countries allowing the people to travel in these dangerous boats. All member states who are part of the common border need to discuss the EU contribution to the policy costs.
The EU needs to stress there is a fair and safer way for people to be assessed for asylum status, than trying to turn up on unsuitable vessels.