Sophia mission: EU pulls ships from Mediterranean

The EU is scaling back its Sophia rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea because Rome has voted against prolonging it in its current scope and the conflict over refugee distribution remains unresolved. The ships will be recalled and the waters off the Libyan coast will be monitored from the air instead. Is this a damning indictment of Europe?

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A cynical decision

With this decision the EU leadership is playing into the hands of the far right, news website TVXS criticises:

“It seems the EU leadership is trying to resolve the difficult refugee issue by letting these people drown in the Mediterranean! ... This cynical attitude is the result of the EU's habit of postponing whatever it can and its inability to take well-reflected decisions on urgent matters. ... Regarding both the refugee question and the maintenance of political and geographic equilibrium in the EU, the European leadership has opted for a strategy of 'rubbing shoulders' with the far right in a bid to consolidate its own power.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

We need a coalition of the willing

This is a scandal, Der Tagesspiegel rails:

“It's enough to make you ashamed to be a European. All the talk about the values that the EU supposedly upholds turns out to be hollow and hypocritical. Right-wing populists have taken over in Italy, Hungary and Poland. ... Why has no 'coalition of the willing' been formed? The Mediterranean does not belong to any one state. Germany could at least attempt to work together with other coastal states like France, Spain, Greece, the Nordic states and Benelux to put together a sea-based rapid reaction force. True, that would render the principle of burden sharing obsolete, but that's already the case as far as the refugee issue is concerned. Must people drown because their salvation depends on an EU that is bound and determined to act by consensus, but unable to reach a compromise?”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Sophia was a symbol of failure

The programme the EU is now scrapping was already a symbol of its failed migration policy, the Wiener Zeitung contends:

“The EU is completely overwhelmed: institutionally, conceptionally, and psychologically. 'Sophie' was the improvised answer with which the EU sought to hide its shortcomings. The programme aimed at saving migrants who had paid a high price only to be persuaded - or forced - by human traffickers to board unseaworthy boats was thus no more than a stop-gap measure, while most people chose to turn a blind eye to the underlying moral ambivalence. Because the prospect of being rescued by emergency services does indeed result in a probability calculation in which more and more people put their own lives at risk, while a highly efficient human trafficking mafia pockets the profits. That is just as irresponsible as letting people drown.”