World

EU vows to act swiftly as migrant smugglers begin using huge cargo ships in Mediterranean

  • The cargo ship Ezadeen, carrying hundreds of migrants, arrives at the southern Italian port of Corigliano, Italy, late Friday, Jan. 2, 2015. The cargo ship was stopped with about 450 migrants aboard after smugglers sent it speeding toward the coast in rough seas with no one in command. Italian authorities lowered engineers and electricians onto the wave-tossed ship by helicopter to secure it, and the Icelandic Coast Guard towed it to the Italian port of Corigliano late Friday night. Smugglers who bring migrants to Europe by sea appear to have adopted a new, more dangerous tactic: cramming hundreds of them onto a large cargo ship, setting it on an automated course to crash into the coast, and then abandoning the helm. (AP Photo/Antonino D'Urso)

    The cargo ship Ezadeen, carrying hundreds of migrants, arrives at the southern Italian port of Corigliano, Italy, late Friday, Jan. 2, 2015. The cargo ship was stopped with about 450 migrants aboard after smugglers sent it speeding toward the coast in rough seas with no one in command. Italian authorities lowered engineers and electricians onto the wave-tossed ship by helicopter to secure it, and the Icelandic Coast Guard towed it to the Italian port of Corigliano late Friday night. Smugglers who bring migrants to Europe by sea appear to have adopted a new, more dangerous tactic: cramming hundreds of them onto a large cargo ship, setting it on an automated course to crash into the coast, and then abandoning the helm. (AP Photo/Antonino D'Urso)  (The Associated Press)

  • The cargo ship Ezadeen, carrying hundreds of migrants, arrives at the southern Italian port of Corigliano, Italy, late Friday, Jan. 2, 2015. The cargo ship was stopped with about 450 migrants aboard after smugglers sent it speeding toward the coast in rough seas with no one in command. Italian authorities lowered engineers and electricians onto the wave-tossed ship by helicopter to secure it, and the Icelandic Coast Guard towed it to the Italian port of Corigliano late Friday night. Smugglers who bring migrants to Europe by sea appear to have adopted a new, more dangerous tactic: cramming hundreds of them onto a large cargo ship, setting it on an automated course to crash into the coast, and then abandoning the helm. (AP Photo/Antonino D'Urso)

    The cargo ship Ezadeen, carrying hundreds of migrants, arrives at the southern Italian port of Corigliano, Italy, late Friday, Jan. 2, 2015. The cargo ship was stopped with about 450 migrants aboard after smugglers sent it speeding toward the coast in rough seas with no one in command. Italian authorities lowered engineers and electricians onto the wave-tossed ship by helicopter to secure it, and the Icelandic Coast Guard towed it to the Italian port of Corigliano late Friday night. Smugglers who bring migrants to Europe by sea appear to have adopted a new, more dangerous tactic: cramming hundreds of them onto a large cargo ship, setting it on an automated course to crash into the coast, and then abandoning the helm. (AP Photo/Antonino D'Urso)  (The Associated Press)

The European Union is promising to act quickly in response to new tactics of smugglers bringing migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe packed aboard huge, decaying cargo ships.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Monday that "we have to act and we shall act swiftly."

The EU Frontex border agency says about 15 such crossings have been recorded since August. Two came in just three days last week, involving more than 1,000 migrants, many of them fleeing Syria.

Schinas said that even though Frontex vessels were involved in last week's rescue efforts the EU could be doing more.

He said that would require EU countries to provide "more means, more instruments, more money."