The Malta Independent 23 October 2017, Monday

Malta ‘spearheading EU efforts to tackle migration on Mediterranean route’

Monday, 27 March 2017, 19:24 Last update: about 8 months ago

The execution of the implementation plan of the Malta Declaration agreed at the Malta Summit on 3 February 2017 to address migration in the Central Mediterranean region was one of the main items on the agenda of the Justice & Home Affairs Council, which convened in Brussels.

Through the Council’s meeting, the Maltese Presidency of the EU continued spearheading EU efforts to tackle migration on this route, the Home Affairs Ministry said today.

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This was the first formal Justice & Home Affairs Council meeting held under the Maltese Presidency, and was chaired by the Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Carmelo Abela.

“The implementation plan is centred on building the necessary capacity of the Libyan Coast Guard, improving conditions at migrant centres, and assisting those who would wish to return to their countries of origin through voluntary return initiatives. Another pillar of this plan focuses on overcoming migrant smugglers by fighting criminal organisations that are operating in this region and by assisting local communities to develop alternative means of income.

The Maltese Presidency of the Council briefed Member States on the progress made thus far on the implementation of the Joint Valletta Action Plan, which includes measures to tackle the external dimension of migration, namely by fostering economic and social development in African countries.

Addressing a press conference together with European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, following the Council meeting, Minister Carmelo Abela stressed that time is of the essence as there is a great risk of more human tragedies taking place in the Mediterranean Sea,” the ministry said.

 On relocation of asylum seekers, the Council discussed the continued assistance that both Italy and Greece still require and the duty of Member States to honour their part of the deal. Minister Abela said; “It is essential that we EU Member States implement the commitments we have taken in respect of relocations from Italy and Greece and the deployment of experts to the agencies. There is still time to intensify implementation and this is what we are trying to encourage Member States to do”.

The discussion on the return policy focused primarily on the Action Plan and the Recommendation issued by the European Commission in March, outlining measures to be taken for an effective returns system considering both the internal aspect and what needs to be done within the EU, as well as the external aspect in terms of cooperation with third countries.

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