Strasbourg: The European Parliament approved on Thursday a new EU border surveillance system to combat a growing influx of illegal immigrants and refugees, just days after the Lampedusa tragedy highlighted the problem.
The Eurosur system means European Union member states will be "better equipped to prevent, detect and combat irregular migration but also to save migrants` lives", a Parliament statement said.
More than 300 people, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, died last week when their boat sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, the first EU landfall for many escaping conflict or seeking a better life.
"Only by having a pan-European border surveillance system can we prevent the Mediterranean from becoming a graveyard for refugees," said Jan Mulder, a Dutch Liberal Democrat MEP who guided Eurosur through Parliament.
"To prevent a tragedy like that off Lampedusa from happening again, rapid intervention is necessary," Mulder added.
The key element in the new system is improved information exchange among member states and with the EU border management agency Frontex, the statement said.
"This includes sharing real-time data and intelligence from various authorities and surveillance tools, such as satellites or ship reporting systems," it added.
The Lampedusa disaster has put the EU`s asylum policy under a harsh spotlight, with many charging that it forces refugees to resort to desperate measures to reach Europe.