STRASBOURG, April 5 (Xinhua) -- A resolution on how to deal with the complex issue of migration crisis was narrowly adopted Wednesday at the European Parliament, demonstrating a continued lack of political unity in the face of this ongoing crisis.
The resolution comes as Europe is bracing itself for a third consecutive summer in which huge numbers of migrants will try to reach the continent to flee conflict and instability in their home nations.
Adopted by only 333 votes in favor to 310 against, with 46 abstentions, the resolution admits that "in today's world we are witnessing an unprecedented level of human mobility."
It stresses that "the international community must urgently undertake the strengthening of a common response to address the challenges and opportunities that this phenomenon represents."
The vast majority of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) agree on the urgent need for a response to the crisis which first struck Europe in 2015, and also that current efforts have been insufficient to tackle the complex problem, but this seems to be the limit to parliamentary consensus on the refugee question.
"The humanitarian aid system is completely overrun and hence we need a more lasting and holistic approach, with closer links between humanitarian sphere on one hand and development on the other," said the parliament's co-rapporteur Agustin Diaz de Mera (European People's Party, Spain) during a Tuesday debate that preceded the vote.
"We should not talk about a migration crisis but rather about a crisis of solidarity within the EU," declared co-rapporteur Elena Valenciano (Socialists & Democrats group, Spain). "We can also talk about an institutional crisis, as the EU Council is incapable of meeting its own commitments, about a moral crisis, as we seem more worried about shutting down our borders and encouraging returns rather than addressing the roots causes of the crisis we see."
The resolution calls for a "multi-lateral governance regime" for international migration, based on international cooperation, including more cooperation between the EU, UN specialized bodies, development banks, regional organizations and other actors.
In addition, the resolution puts strong emphasis on using development resources to tackle the "root causes" of migration, such as armed conflict, persecution, gender-based violence, poor governance, poverty, lack of economic opportunities and climate change. "Addressing these problems can reduce the drivers of forced displacement and migration in the first place," states the text.
In the end, however, the house was relatively unpersuaded, with some MEPs deeply critical of the resolution, lamenting contradictory forces within EU policy.
The resolution "seeks to rebrand the image of Europe away from being cruel and inhumane but it ends up doing quite the opposite," declared Marina Albiol (European United Left/Nordic Green Left, Spain). "The [resolution] calls for safe and legal routes and humanitarian visas for migrant and refugees. At the same time, the [resolution] calls for deportation, the militarisation of the Mediterranean, NATO intervention and the outsourcing of borders."
"I am concerned about the way in which development policy is encompassing military means, detracting from the development budget," confessed Swedish MEP Malin Bjork.
The adopted resolution does in fact criticize the lack of transparency in current EU development policy, particularly in relation to Partnership Frameworks and related "migration pacts" currently being negotiated with third countries such as Jordan and Lebanon. MEPs asked to be more involved in such deals.
In addition, they stated that European assistance and cooperation should be "tailored to achieving development and growth in third countries," while not incentivizing third countries "to cooperate on readmission of irregular migrants, to forcibly deter people from moving, or to stop flows to Europe."
The issue has been controversial ever since March 2016 saw an EU-Turkey deal on cooperation to tackle migration which many critics saw as a "fool's bargain," trading on European credibility while only diverting migrant flows to other, often more dangerous routes.
When the EU-Turkey deal was concluded, MEPs noted a spike in attempts to cross the southern Mediterranean, as human traffickers abandoned the Aegean sea.
While European political leaders and public opinion continues to be divided, the crisis continues. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, over 30,000 people have already risked their lives in 2017 to reach Europe by sea. Roughly a quarter of those are children and over 900 people are feared to have drowned this year.
Over a million people fled to Europe in 2015, with half of those who came by sea being Syrians trying to escape civil war.