Brussels, 5 July 2017 – CONCORD is concerned about recent declarations regarding migration management at the EU level. Following Italian threats to close ports to boats carrying migrants and issuing a code of conduct for NGOs, we worry new measures will limit their action in the Mediterranean, diverting attention from the lack of solidarity between EU Member States onto civil society organisations.

The 3 July Joint declaration by European Commissioner Avramopoulos and the Ministers of Interior of France, Germany and Italy triggers concerns on migration management at EU level (1).  Ministers are due to discuss Italian threat to prevent rescue ships from stopping in EU ports and on introducing a compulsory code of conduct for NGOs. If implemented, CONCORD Europe, the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs, fears this would diminish CSOs’ ability to timely rescue by, for instance, preventing the transfer of refugees onto Coast Guard and Frontex boats at sea.

“It is crucial to avoid any restrictions on the capacity of NGOs and any other stakeholders that may hamper their ability to respond to the humanitarian imperative of saving human lives in danger. Re-writing the rules of engagement for CSOs should not undermine international obligations, International Treaties ratified by all EU Countries. If the EU is serious about a code of conduct for CSOs that rescue migrants at sea, such a code must be discussed and drafted with all the parties involved, and NGOs and Civil Society in particular.”

Francesco Petrelli


In Italy alone, the number of arrivals adds up to 60 228 in the first five months of 2017 (2). 6 896 migrants have been relocated from Italy since the launch of the EU’s emergency relocation scheme adopted by the Council in September 2015 (3).

A fair agreement at EU level is urgent. The thousands of men, women and children escaping wars, poverty and persecutions cannot be paying the price of internal disagreements on relocation.  The EU’s response should be based on credible and clear decisions to organise the relocation of refugees and migrants within all Member States. No country of arrival should be pushed ‑ in the absence of an EU joint initiative ‑ into making unacceptable decisions that may undermine humanitarian obligations.

“This proposal reflects a political will not to face the real problems. Men, women and children are fleeing violence and conflict and putting their lives at risk because Member States do not meet their responsibilities to ensure safe and legal entry channels for migrants in need of international protection. Dramatics situations off the Libyan coasts must be avoided. A code of conduct for NGOs that are active where Members States fail to meet their duty is not the right answer.”

Adeline Mazier

Secretary General of Coordination SUD, French National Platform, Member of CONCORD Europe