Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi is currently on an official visit in Bulgaria as part of refugees' working group to discuss, together with the Bulgarian National Agency for Refugees and the Bulgarian border police, counter measures at European, national and local level to migrant smuggling and illegal migration. The visit has been organised by the Socialists and Democrats Head of the Bulgarian Delegation in the European Parliament, MEP Iliana Yotova, who is also a Vice-Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and a very active member on issues related to illegal migration.
The working group is made up of Members of the European Parliament and official representatives of EUROPOL and EASO. MEP Mizzi , who makes frequent interventions in the European Parliament about immigration is one of only 2 MEP’s invited for this initiative.
During the first day of its visit, the working group visited the border fence installation, which was built to prevent smuggling and illegal crossing and to cope with a soaring number of refugees. A visit to the largest open refugee camp, where currently more than 2000 refugees are being accommodated and the command centre for border control was also organised. At a press conference with the Bulgarian press, MEP Mizzi commented that coming from a country with similar problems of illegal migration, she can relate to the challenges faced by the Bulgarian national authorities and the citizens. Some Member States like Malta and Bulgaria, which are in the middle of the 2 main corridors of illegal migrant smuggling, are being affected to a disproportionate degree, creating in the process an alarming situation
At the second day of the visit, MEP Mizzi was one of the keynote speakers at a debate entitled "A comprehensive approach to counter migrant smuggling and illegal migration". Speaking before the debate, Marlene Mizzi said "It is with great honour that I have been invited on this official visit in Bulgaria. In the last few years thousands of immigrants have reached the European borders through the Mediterranean and through the Balkan countries and by the end of the year more illegal immigrants are expected to arrive."
Marlene Mizzi said: " We are clearly dealing with an unprecedented humanitarian emergency, which raises questions on how appropriate the measures of response at European level are with regards to the current needs of both the immigrants and the Member States, burdened with responsibilities, which cannot be shouldered alone." It is amply clear that countries at the frontiers are not able to cope with the problem on their own and that common efforts are inefficient and disorganised. This is NOT the problem of Malta and Bulgaria. This is a European problem that requires a European solution, concluded MEP Mizzi.