Portuguese MEPs shoot down proposal to save migrants in the Mediterranean
The European Parliament tabled a motion earlier this week for a plan to increase search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Two of the 290 votes against the motion were from Portuguese MEPs: Nuno Melo, elected by the CDS-PP, and Álvaro Amaro, from the PSD.
Public furore broke out on social media over the votes of the two Portuguese MEPs who spoke against the motion, which called for a plan to improve EU mechanisms to protect the lives of refugees that venture into the Mediterranean Sea seeking a better life.
The proposal close to passing, with 288 votes in favor, including four MEPs elected by the PSD, Paulo Rangel, Maria da Graça Carvalho, Lidia Pereira and Claudia Monteiro de Aguiar. There were 36 abstentions, such as José Manuel Fernandes (PSD).
In an opinion article, Left Bloc MEP Marisa Matias, not directly mentioning those who voted against, accused the parties belonging to the “parliamentary democratic right” of having allied with the far-right to refuse support to search and rescue missions. She showed great disappointment at the revelation that the motion had been shot down.
Mr. Melo MEP justified his vote against with the fact that on the same day of the vote, the European Parliament failed to submit a proposal from the European People’s Party (EPP) group, which includes PSD and the CDS-PP MEPs, in which the distinction was made between economic migrants and refugees. The centrist MEP sent the rest of his explanation via statement he posted on his Facebook page earlier today.
In his statement of vote, MEP Álvaro Amaro of the PSD said that the “plan did not take into account” the position of his political group (EPP).
“I understood, therefore, to follow the EPP line of vote and to vote against. I now wait for the various political groups to return to the negotiation to draft a new resolution that can express the plurality of opinions in this Parliament,” he added.
José Manuel Fernandes, also through the declaration of vote, stated that he abstained because he considered that the proposal failed “to promote the necessary balance to make the European Union’s borders a safer and more human place”.
In addition, he stressed that “only a clear distinction between economic migrants and refugees ensures respect for the principle of legality in the context of humanitarian protection.”
Maria da Graça Carvalho was also named as one of the MEPs who had voted against, but she explained on Facebook that she had been mistaken and corrected her vote.