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Claude Moraes MEP, Labour MEP for London and chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, responds to the UK government's withdrawal of support for the EU's rescue operation for migrants crossing the Mediterranean:

"Saving lives is not an issue of encouraging or discouraging migration - nor is it a push or pull factor. It is a moral duty to save those in distress at sea. It is a matter of observing the basic norms of maritime law.

"Human traffickers will not lose business because we do not assist boats in distress. People take the risk of the perilous journey because there is still hope that they will survive the crossing and it is still the best option they have.

"As chair of the European Parliament's committee responsible for monitoring FRONTEX and the other agencies specifically tasked with border management in the Mediterranean, I will be pushing for an inquiry into the ethics and resources being utilised by Member States in the this region.

"Studies show that up to 22,000 lives have been lost in the Mediterranean over the past 26 years. This is an atrocious number with horrific stories of people perishing at sea. Migration into the EU must be managed, as should migration into the UK specifically. We have to ensure that clear rules are in place so that those making the transition into this country know what their obligations are and the government has a chance to ensure that it is fair, of benefit to the UK and concerns such as undercutting wages of local workers are properly addressed.

"But thinking that deaths at sea is a deterrent and that rescuing those in distress at sea is a pull factor, is an incredibly inhumane policy for any government to pursue. If in Europe, the UK along with other Member States are not able to work together to ensure that we don’t have a grave yard in the Mediterranean each year, then what is the hope for other areas of the world where resources are much, much scarcer.

"Mare Nostrum has been applauded by many for the work that has been carried out and the lives that have been saved, up to 150,000. But let's be clear, the EU has no specific funding for search and rescue operations, it is carried out as part of the border management operations and due to the maritime obligation to save boats in distress. Triton, the programme that will replace Mare Nostrum, will only have a third of the resources.

"It is astonishing that the UK government claim that the rescue operations have been encouraging more migrants to come to Europe especially considering the fact that the top ten countries which receive the most refugees feature not one single European country, but include many developing countries according to the UN."

It is our moral duty to save those in distress at sea - we cannot just let them die

Claude Moraes MEP, Labour MEP for London and chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, responds to the UK government's withdrawal of support for the...

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A Labour MEP today called on the new transport commissioner to do more to reverse the decline in European sleeper services after the outgoing commissioner ruled out action at EU level.

Lucy Anderson MEP, Labour’s European spokesperson on transport, wrote to Siim Kallas raising the issue of the downgrading and scrapping of overnight train services and asking the European Commisison to act to stop this.

In his written answer, Mr Kallas ruled out taking action to save such services, putting the ball back in the camp of rail operators and national governments:

"On commercial market segments it is in principle for railway undertakings to decide which services they will maintain or develop, based on their individual business cases. Member States which consider that the provision of international sleeper services is desirable may award public service contracts for the respective domestic sections of an international service in coordination with the neighbouring authorities."

Lucy Anderson MEP said:

“I find this a very disappointing answer from the Commission. Many passengers, including those who are disabled or have reduced mobility, view night trains as their preferred, if not their only, means of long-distance transportation and are deeply concerned they may soon be denied this option.

“Sleeper trains are not simply a matter of an alternative means of travelling, they are a vital option and should remain as such.”

According to Commissioner Kallas, there is no current EU legislation to provide for specific passenger rights in this respect.

Lucy Anderson MEP said:

“The new Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, has promised to work hard and closely with the European Parliament in order to promote transport across Europe that is truly people focused, and provide options for all passengers, whatever their specific needs. This is an encouraging start, and we now need her to urgently look at the issue of sleeper trains.”

Ms Anderson had written to the Commission asking if it was aware sleeper services were being cancelled; if it agreed that for European rail to be truly accessible, competitive and user-friendly it is vital passengers are offered a wide range of services, including overnight travel; and what the Commission will do to ensure the rights of train passengers, especially those travelling between countries, are upheld in the same way as those travelling by other means of transport.

She added:

"When considering European transport networks, solutions at a national level of a single country would not be enough on their own. At this crucial moment, when the major trans-European transport corridors are being prioritised for funding and support, it is very important to make sure cross-border services are preserved, are efficient and of a high quality for all passengers. Night trains are also a key component of Europe’s cultural and historical legacy and should remain so for future generations.

"In Britain, the London-Scotland and London-Penzance sleeper services are being upgraded, while China recently unveiled plans for a high-speed Trans-Pacific rail line. Railways are the most sustainable, low carbon way to travel, and it would be an environmental travesty were the EU to sit back and watch the slow death of the sleeper train."

Labour MEP calls on new transport commissioner to reverse decline in sleeper services

A Labour MEP today called on the new transport commissioner to do more to reverse the decline in European sleeper services after the outgoing commissioner ruled out action at EU...

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Labour MEPs have called on Europe's leaders, who meet this week for the European Council summit in Brussels, to agree ambitious, binding targets to save energy and reduce emissions.

Seb Dance MEP, Labour's European spokesperson on climate change, said:

"Labour MEPs have been calling for ambitious targets to tackle climate change: at least a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to the 1990 level; at least 30% renewable energy and a 40% improvement in energy efficiency.

"We need an ambitious climate framework to lay the groundwork for a global climate deal in 2015, something we plan to highlight in the upcoming UN climate conference."

Theresa Griffin MEP, Labour's European spokesperson on energy, added:

"Europe's leaders must agree targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, greater use of renewable energy and improvements in energy efficiency.

"If the soundbite 'greenest government ever' is to have any meaning at all, it requires David Cameron to lead for once and back the Parliament's ambitious, binding targets, not threaten to water down or veto these proposals."

Labour MEPs urge European leaders to agree ambitious climate targets

Labour MEPs have called on Europe's leaders, who meet this week for the European Council summit in Brussels, to agree ambitious, binding targets to save energy and reduce emissions.

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