The Malta Independent 5 December 2020, Saturday

Malta’s position on migration will not change until EU migration pact – Abela

Wednesday, 21 October 2020, 12:04 Last update: about 2 months ago

Malta’s position on migration will not change unless the EU agrees on a migration pact, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Wednesday. 

The government’s hard-line stance on migration will remain as is because “if we do not adopt this approach EU members will simply not listen,” Prime Minister Abela said. 

Minister Abela was speaking during parliament on Wednesday while winding up a debate on the conclusions of the recent European Council. 

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Multiple times the Maltese government has insisted that the country is ‘full up’ and is unable to accommodate any more people, therefore the priority will remain to reduce the number of arriving immigrants in Malta. 

The EU migration pact sets out the Commission’s new approach to migration, addresses border management and ensures more coherence to integrate the internal and external dimensions of migrations policies. It also deals with sensitive issues related to the future of the Schengen area, a strategy on voluntary returns and an action plan against migrant smuggling. 

Abela highlighted that although Malta has done and is still doing its best to reduce the number of immigrants coming to the islands, and in fact the number of arriving immigrants fell sharply this year when compared to other years, Abela said that it would be a mistake if the EU engaged with African countries exclusively on migration and called for a holistic approach. 

He remarked that “the feedback received during our recent trip to Libya was not to engage on migration issues only, but to become trusted business partners.” 

Nationalist Party and Opposition Leader Bernard Grech questioned Minister Abela on his approach when it comes to handling the pandemic: “What assurances have you give to EU leaders that Malta is doing its utmost to stop the spread of the virus?” 

In addition, Grech also brought up the subject on whether Malta is prepared or not when it comes to issues related to customs and border control since the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. 

In reply, Prime Minister Abela remarked that such statements are only being said to win a number of political points and that “we are yet to learn how the Opposition would have dealt with the pandemic and the different decisions they would have taken.” 

In addition, with regards to Brexit Abela said that the country is working on preparing for all scenarios.

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