The Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Emmanuel Mallia, attended a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council. The meeting discussed several issues of importance to Malta, including the establishment of a Common European Asylum System and Schengen governance.
Home Affairs Ministers discussed the establishment of a Common European Asylum System (CEAS), where the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union briefed Member States on the final steps being taken to complete the legislative framework. The scope of the CEAS is to further harmonise national asylum legislation through five legislative instruments.
Speaking during the meeting, Minister Mallia stated that while the imminent conclusion of the CEAS package is an achievement for the EU, it must now focus on increasing tangible solidarity among Member States in light of the fact that some, such as Malta, face disproportionate pressures due to high numbers of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection.
Minister Mallia added that this situation cannot be adequately tackled through ‘harmonised’ legislation alone. Pointing out that the CEAS can only be a success if it properly addresses the realities on the ground, Minister Mallia emphasised that fair responsibility-sharing must be at the very heart of the common system.
During the meeting, Ministers were also informed about the state of play on two legislative proposals making up the Schengen Governance package, namely a draft Regulation establishing a mechanism to verify the correct application of the Schengen acquis by Member States and an amendment to the Schengen Borders Code. The Council and the European Parliament have reached an agreement on this package and it is expected that it will be adopted by Parliament in July and by Council in the Autumn.
Amongst other issues which were discussed by Ministers was the civil war in Syria. In particular, Member States discussed what the EU can do to continue to bolster its humanitarian assistance. Ministers also held a discussion on the threats posed by European foreign fighters in countries such as Syria - particularly upon return to the EU.
Minister Mallia was accompanied at the Council meeting by the Permanent Representative of Malta to the EU, Ambassador Marlene Bonnici.