Brussels 12/06/2018 –  The Migration experts of CONCORD Europe, the European Confederation of Development NGOs, strongly condemn the decision of the Italian government to close the harbours for the reception of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean and ask all Member States to share the reception by opening their harbours, as done by the Spanish government, and by opening new regular pathways. Following what happened to the ship Aquarius and its passengers and considering what could happen in the next days, CONCORD experts  express their appreciation of the humanitarian gesture done by the Spanish government and call upon all European states to uphold and respect the values  and human rights standards of the European Union. [1].
What is happening in Europe is very serious: Member States are deeply divided. They cannot find compromise on the much needed reform of the Common European Asylum System. As a consequence, migrants rescued in the Mediterranean are at risk of not finding reception. The unique policy on which EU and Member States agree consists of the externalisation of migration management based on an instrumentalisation of development cooperation.

There are however existing binding regulations and directives of the Common European Asylum System for Member States to respect, Europe’s response must be one of solidarity, promoting and respecting human rights and dignity.

The Italian government, while closing its harbours, is violating international law and humanitarian principles. No Member State should be left alone in managing rescue and reception. All EU members should share this task. If we want to create a global system to face migration, the EU needs to show that it is willing to cooperate on an equitable basis with other global partners, instead of attempting to outsource migration management to fragile states.
Andrea Stocchiero

CONCORD Europe and CONCORD Italy

Coordinadora appreciates the decision of the Spanish government welcoming the 629 passengers of the Aquarius in Spain. With this gesture, Pedro Sanchez’s government takes a very positive step in respect of international law and humanitarian principle. This opens the opportunity of leading a shift in the Spanish and the European Union’s migration policy. We should stop turning our back on refugees and promote protection for people on the move. We share the expressions of solidarity and support coming from different regions and city councils in Spain and Italy. 
Maite Serrano Onate

Director of the Spanish Platform, Coordinadora

Migration experts in CONCORD  promote and defend European values ​​of solidarity and hospitality signed in the treaties and stand for #stayhuman. 

In La Valletta Plan, the EU and its Member States signed a commitment to guarantee safe and regular pathways for refugees that seek protection. Therefore, the EU should provide more options for regular migration of both high and low skilled workers in accordance to the negotiations that are underway in the UN Global Compact on Migration.


Notes to editors:

CONCORD Europe:  we are the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs, made up of 28 national associations, 21 international networks and 3 associate members that represent over 2.600 NGOs, supported by millions of citizens across Europe.


By focusing on one of the main EU financial instruments for migration, the CONCORD report “Partnership or Conditionality?”analyses the EU Trust Fund for Africa and more specifically its implementation in 3 key partner countries: Libya, Niger and Ethiopia.



[1] THE REFUGEE CONVENTION, 1951 art. 33 

  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974
  • The European Convention on Human Rights(ECHR) (formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) art. 2, 3
  • Protocol No.4 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) art 4
  • Regulation (EU) No 656/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 establishing rules for the surveillance of the external sea borders in the context of operational cooperation coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union