PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR HOME AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL SECURITY: Countries most affected by the Central Mediterranean migratory route establish high-level Contact Group

Home Affairs Ministers of Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Malta, Slovenia, Switzerland and Tunisia, as well as the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos agreed to increase regular coordination, cooperation and exchange of expertise and information in the management of mixed migration flows in the Central Mediterranean.

They also decided to jointly monitor the implementation of these actions, inter alia through meetings at senior officials’ level, and to meet again when appropriate to assess the results achieved and to promote further actions. In this context, they agreed to establish a Contact Group composed of the Ministers, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, and Commissioner Avramopoulos.

The agreement was reached during a conference convened by Italy to focus on addressing the common challenges represented by the mixed migration flows from Africa to Europe across the Central Mediterranean route. The meeting was held in Rome, and was also attended by the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord of Libya Fayez al-Sarraj, and by the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Malta’s Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela, said: “It is important that we Europeans intensify our dialogue and engagement with our African partners, and to continue assisting them in order to face this phenomenon together. The countries of origin and transit should be considered part of the solution, not of the problem, if we want to achieve tangible results. The Contact Group we are establishing today will be complimentary to the already existing EU-Africa efforts in the migration sphere, such as the Framework Partnership Agreements with five priority African countries, the Khartoum Process, and the Rabat Process. On its part, as EU Presidency, Malta will continue pushing forward the Malta Declaration implementation plan presented on the 9th February 2017, which is crucial for progress to be registered in this area.”

Minister Abela also took the opportunity to remind EU Member States to step up their efforts to fulfil the commitments they took in September 2015 to alleviate the migratory pressure on Greece and Italy by relocating 160,000 people in clear need of international protection from those two countries by September 2017.

A declaration of intent issued at the end of the meeting highlighted the participants’ desire to address the Central Mediterranean situation on the basis of historical and shared values of humanity, solidarity, hospitality, and respect for human rights. The declaration states that, after having managed to curb the flows from the Eastern Mediterranean route, focus is now needed to jointly work to manage better the situation in the Central Mediterranean. This requires taking effective action within the framework of a strategic response which prioritises saving lives and curtailing smuggling operations, in line with the objectives of the Malta Declaration of 3rd February 2017. This approach should also consider promoting further reflection about possible actions at the southern Libyan borders, with the aim to save lives in the desert.

The participant delegations commended the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU for the leadership it is showing in addressing the migration issue in earnest. At the end of the conference, Minister Abela held a bilateral meeting with Italian Minister of the Interior Marco Minniti.

Source: Government of Malta