When the best option is a leaky boat: why migrants risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean and what Europe is doing about it (MPC)

This policy brief, produced by the Migration Policy Centre, focuses on immigration to Europe via the Mediterranean and related issues such as smuggling, sea routes, Mare Nostrum and risks encountered by migrants. It also provides statistics and data.


"The Mediterranean Sea is the most porous border between Europe and its neighbours and the world’s most dangerous border between countries that are not at war with each other". This is how starts the latest policy brief published by the Migration Policy Center on migrants risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean and the EU response.

Through this policy brief, the MPC researchers Philippe Fargues and Sara Bonfanti intend to address the two following questions:

  • To what extent do the root causes of clandestine migration across the Mediterranean lie in the Mediterranean region itself?
  • How many in these flows are irregular labour migrants and how many are refugees?

They show throughout their study that "the tragedy of migrants smuggled at sea has become a high priority" and they suggest pathways to resolve it.



1. One million landing

  • Fact n°1: the sea route to Europe is anything but new.
  • Fact n°2: From market out routes to wanderings on the high seas 
  • Fact n°3: Sea routes to Europe are increasingly lethal

2. Seeking life or livelihood?

3. From push back to rescue: Mare Nostrum


  • Response 1: Combatting the smugglers
  • Response 2: Intervening at an earlier step of the journey

To read the full policy brief download the enclosed document or visit MPC website here

Publication Date:
do 04 dec 2014