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Catalonia to host summit of Mediterranean regions on humanitarian crisis in July

The Catalan Government and the regional governments of Sicily and Provence are promoting a manifesto requesting the European Union to meet the challenge of the humanitarian crisis taking place at the Mediterranean Sea. ‘We are all Mediterranean’ aims to strengthen the commitment at regional level to face and solve this crisis, since the EU and the Member State governments “are not up to the challenge”. In addition, the Catalan Government also confirmed the organisation of a summit of Mediterranean regions to be held in July in Barcelona “to work together and see in which way the regions can give a more comprehensive answer” to the drama suffered by so many refugees crossing the sea on fragile boats. In Strasbourg, the Vice President of the Catalan Government, Joana Ortega, invited the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, as well as those of Sicily, Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur and Western Greece, Rosario Crocetta, Michel Vauzelle and Apostolos Katsifaras, and Lampedusa’s Mayor, Giusi Nicolini, to attend the summit.

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20 May 2015 10:43 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Government and the regional governments of Sicily and Provence are promoting a manifesto requesting the European Union to meet challenge of the humanitarian crisis taking place at the Mediterranean Sea. ‘We are all Mediterranean’ aims to strengthen the commitment at regional level to face and solve this crisis, since the EU and the Member State governments are not up to the challenge. In addition, the Catalan Government also confirmed the organisation of a summit of Mediterranean regions to be held in July in Barcelona “to work together and see in which way the regions can give a more comprehensive answer” to the drama suffered by so many refugees crossing the sea on fragile boats. According to the Vice President of the Catalan Government, Joana Ortega, the conference should be used as a discussion forum and as a platform to tell the EU Member State governments to increase the regional funds to welcome immigrants and asylum seekers and to fight the main causes of this humanitarian tragedy. In Strasbourg, Ortega invited the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, as well as those of Sicily, Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur and Western Greece, Rosario Crocetta, Michel Vauzelle and Apostolos Katsifaras, and Lampedusa’s Mayor, Giusi Nicolini, to attend the summit in the Catalan capital.


On Tuesday, the Vice President of the Catalan Government, Joana Ortega, met with the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, along with the regional presidents Rosario Crocetta, Michel Vauzelle and Apostolos Katsifaras, and the Mayor of Lampedusa, Giusi Nicolini, to discuss the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean. They all stressed to Schulz the key role that regional and local bodies play in taking care of immigration, working for migrants’ integration and providing basic services to them. Furthermore, they asked Schulz for a greater recognition of their role, but more importantly, they asked the European Union institutions for a greater commitment to solving this crisis.

“This is a humanitarian crisis and the Europe of values and humanism must give an answer to it and, at the regional level, we must do this in an encompassing way”, stated Ortega. The meeting with Schulz occurred in the context of the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions of Europe (CRPM), which took place in Sicily on Monday.

The representatives handed Schulz the ‘We are all Mediterranean’ manifesto, in which the signatories highlight the role regions play regarding immigration policies and demand an effective reaction to solve the humanitarian crisis. “We highlight the role of the regions, which are those receiving and acting in a quicker and more effective way in the face of this humanitarian crisis”, stated Ortega. However, the Catalan Vice President also added that “we are aware that we cannot limit ourselves to only fighting the consequences but also have to tackle the origins, the reasons, the causes” of this humanitarian crisis.

Ortega asked Schulz for the revision of the EU budget to “take into consideration which are the regions that welcome the highest number of immigrants”. They are also requesting that, when assigning the number of asylum seekers to be hosted, criteria such as public deficit and poverty risk in a given region should also be taken into consideration, on top of overall population, GDP and unemployment rates. In fact, the signatories are asking for a greater recognition of their tasks but also for greater funding, as regional and local government are very often those running the integration programmes that ensure social cohesion.

“The regional and local authorities are on the front line” of this humanitarian crisis and “they lack the necessary resources”, they told Schulz. “We often have the human, financial and technical responsibility to save lives and accompany the immigrants through their social and economic insertion into society, regardless of their religion, skin colour or origin”, stressed Ortega.

In the same vein, they asked for greater involvement of the EU institutions and the Member State governments. “We cannot stand that Sicily and Lampedusa are facing such difficult situations and the rest of the Mediterranean regions do not give a stronger answer”, said Ortega. “In this Catalonia [expresses its] solidarity but also [requests] work to look for [answers] from the regions and the commitment from states to improve the funding to facilitate the reception of people and to find solutions to the causes”, she added.

Ortega also highlighted that it is important that “regions work together” and build solidarity links between them. She also asked the EU “to become the main actor in the peace process of the Mediterranean Sea and fight against the networks of organised crime and weapon trafficking”. In addition, the EU should increase “the rescue operations of immigrants found at sea and host them in decent conditions”, emphasised the Catalan Vice President.

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  • The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, meeting with Mediterranean regional governments (by A. Segura)

  • The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, meeting with Mediterranean regional governments (by A. Segura)
Catalonia to host summit of Mediterranean regions on humanitarian crisis in July