The Malta Independent 7 July 2020, Tuesday

Migration: EU Foreign Affairs Ministers review progress achieved, recent developments

Tuesday, 16 July 2019, 08:59 Last update: about 13 months ago

On a joint initiative of Malta’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion, Carmelo Abela, and Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, and, the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting held in Brussels on Monday, included an item aimed at taking stock of progress achieved and recent developments with regard to the external aspects of migration.


During the meeting, chaired by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, the bloc’s Foreign Ministers agreed to work together to consider the identification of elements of added value in the search for a comprehensive solution to the current challenges in this field, A Department of Information statement said.

Minister Abela recalled that, in the Strategic Agenda adopted last month, the European Council reiterated the call to further develop a fully-functioning comprehensive migration policy. The fact that, in relative terms, a reduction in arrivals into Europe via the Central Mediterranean route has been experienced is no reason for complacency, he said, adding that the ad hoc arrangements that have been resorted to over the past months provide no predictability and need to be replaced by a permanent mechanism.

“We need to further foster the nexus between the internal and external dimensions to ensure continued progress towards decisive action,” said Minister Abela. “Simultaneously, this also means taking action to holistically reform the Common European Asylum System, not least the Dublin Regulation, to match our modern-day needs. We need to continue working on tackling root causes while simultaneously shoring up our response to ensure that we are capable of effectively dealing with a situation where pressure can increase in a way that places disproportionate pressure on frontline Member States.”

On EUNAVFOR Med - Operation Sophia, Minister Abela said that this has been a key element of the EU’s response, notably with respect to targeting smugglers’ business models. He re-iterated the point he had made during the June FAC, that the bloc’s decision to temporarily suspend the deployment of naval assets to the Area of Operation, and the refocusing on aerial instead of naval operations, have resulted in reduced effectiveness. Pointing out that the EU’s work with the Libyan Coast Guard has provided clear value added, Minister Abela stressed the need to ensure that the momentum that has been reached, also in terms of training, is maintained. He re-iterated that all vessels operating in the Mediterranean must respect the applicable laws and refrain from obstructing the operations of the Libyan coastguard.

Focusing on the conflict in Libya as an element which further complicates the situation in relation to migration but also vis-à-vis security and stability in the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood, Minister Abela pointed out that the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan people increasingly look towards the international community, including the EU, for support. A dramatic and drastic improvement will only be possible if action is encouraged, supported and, therefore, taken at the highest international level: at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), he said.  Therefore, Malta is proposing the adoption of a UNSC Resolution that creates an enforcement mechanism to ensure the monitoring of the effective implementation of UNSCR 2473 of 10 June 2019 (Arms Embargo) by all parties and by the international community. The Resolution would also encourage all parties in Libya to agree to a durable ceasefire while strengthening the mandate of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

The EU too must play its part in finding possible solutions. “The EU needs to continue voicing its support for the GNA, preserving and persevering in the process as laid down in Paris, reiterated in Palermo, and now also re-issued as a seven-point process by Libyan Prime Minister Al-Serraj. With two EU countries being permanent members of the UNSC and three others being non-permanent members, the EU has the means to speak with a louder and clearer voice within the UNSC.”

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