5 Dec 2013

EU to do more for asylum seekers

7:46 am on 5 December 2013

The European Union has announced plans to tighten patrols of its sea borders and do more to help asylum-seekers.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom. Photo: AFP (file)

More than 350 migrants died in a shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa on 3 October.

Another 120 migrants were rescued on Monday from a packed fishing boat adrift off the coast of southern Italy in a gale.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Tuesday a summit of EU leaders will discuss the matter on 19-20 December in Brussels.

"Two months ago the tragedy in Lampedusa triggered a very wide and emotional reaction across Europe - a chorus of voices calling for actions to avoid such disasters in the future," Ms Malmstrom said.

"Today we are putting on the table measures and proposals for a truly European response that can make a difference."

The BBC reports other measures announced by Ms Malmstrom involve making the asylum application process within the EU more efficient and stepping up the fight against human traffickers with closer co-operation with states on transit routes, such as Morocco and Libya.