In reaction to recurrent tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea, the European Union (EU) has adopted a series of measures seeking to improve the protection of migrants trying to reach the borders of the EU by sea and to share responsibility among countries involved by increasing cooperation with transit countries. This study focuses on the existing and planned EU policies and actions to protect the human rights of migrants beforeentering the EU by sea or after they have left the territory of the EU. The picture that emerges from the evaluation of EU policies and actions is a mixed one. On the one hand, it cannot be denied that instruments of sea borders surveillance and instruments of cooperation with third countries have now generally included human rights safeguards.
On the other hand, implementation, monitoring and control remain problematic. Furthermore, the primary aim of existing EU policies and actions still seems to be the protection of the external borders against so-called ‘illegal’ immigration and the return of illegally staying migrants, rather than the development of effective strategies to protect human rights of migrants and the saving of lives on the Mediterranean. The study therefore offers specific recommendations to ensure a coherent human rights-based EU approach to improve the protection of the rights of migrants aiming to reach the EU.
European Parliament, Directorate-General for external policies