Malmström: "EU nations lack will to help migrants"

As European heads of state gather in Brussels on Thursday for an emergency summit on migration, Sweden’s EU commissioner Cecilia Malmström says there is a lack of political will to help solve the crisis.

The Brussels summit was prompted by the deaths of more than 900 people in the Mediterranean this week. Amnesty International and other groups have condemned European governments’ “negligence” of the migrant crisis and on Thursday Malmström chimed in, telling Swedish Television:

“The problem is the political will is not strong enough. We tried with the Triton but very few member states want to contribute to it.”Malmström said that most EU countries have pledged to contribute to the Triton border control mission, but that few have offered concrete help in the form of boats and rescue personnel.

Malmström said:

“If all 28 member states chipped in a bit, we could increase the rescue efforts in the Mediterranean and I hope there will be some concrete decisions on this today. But I also hope EU countries will open their doors for quota refugees so that there are legal routes for entering.”

Malmström, who is currently the EU Commissioner for Trade and was previously responsible for migration issues, told Swedish Television that Sweden cannot force other countries to take responsibility, but has the “humanitarian and human right to demand it”. She also noted that there has been a change of tone among top EU leaders where most are now saying that solving the migrant crisis is a European responsibility.

Madelaine Seidlitz of Amnesty International’s Swedish chapter told Swedish Television that there is too much focus today on border controls and on shutting migrants out. “We hope that the EU will only focus on sea rescue missions today and that one will discuss patrols not with the aim of controlling the borders but for the purpose of surveillance and rescuing lives,” Seidlitz said.