Migration is on the European agenda for discussion during the European Council summit to be held later this week and Mediterranean countries are working on a common proposal to the EU, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in Parliament this evening.
Dr Muscat made a ministerial statement on his visit to Israel and Palestine last week and the Greek Prime Ministers visit to Malta today.
In reply to questions, Dr Muscat highlighted that migration may be discussed on Friday and although Malta, Italy and Greece, as well as Cyprus, are working on a common proposal to be made to the EU, this has not yet been agreed mainly because Greece and Malta are facing different challenges since the two countries are affected by migrant flows from different countries.
They must therefore seek to agree on common wording although a declaration of political will that the EU will be taking action is what Malta is after.
There is the possibility of a summit dedicated to migration in June however, Malta believes this will be too late and has asked Greece to take this in its heed and ensure this takes place sooner, during its Presidency.
Dr Muscat insisted that the EU so far had words but no action regarding migration and Malta is not ready to accept this.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras this evening is meeting Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta for further discussions on the situation.
Malta and Israel last week discussed the need to work as neighbours, the two-state solution and aspects of collaboration. An action plan on health and collaboration on oncology was signed and the Maltese government will be assessing the possibilities of training Maltese professionals in world class Israeli health institutions.
In Palestine, the peace process was also discussed as was the human tragedy of refugees lost in the Mediterranean. Palestinians and Syrians were among between 50 and 200 lives that perished in the 11 October incident.
Dr Muscat said the Israelis have a bleak outlook on Syria because they are concerned on the existent regime and are worried on how the situation will develop.
Replying to questions on tourism, he noted tourist arrivals from Israel are increasing from 26,000 last year to 30,000 this year when €2 per capita has been spent on marketing. Prospects are very good yet airline slots are so far limited.
Tourism Minister Karmenu Vella added Israel offers an all-year-round market and not just summer tourism. The two main tour operators are operating three to four charter flights to Malta per week.
Following the ministerial statement and subsequent remarks, Parliament continued to discuss amendments to the VAT Act with the scope of reducing fines and introducing flexibility on interest rates.
Motions on the Bill were approved by the House.