PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR HOME AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL SECURITY: Minister Michael Farrugia attends the Home Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg

Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Michael Farrugia participated in the Home Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg, chaired by Austrian Minister of Interior Herbert Kickl.

During the Council meeting, the EU ministers exchanged views on the proposed European Border and Coast Guard Agency and on the Return Directive. Minister Farrugia said that Malta welcomes the objective of enhancing Frontex’s mandate in terms of returns, and cooperation with third countries. With regards to the proposal relating to the standing corps of 10,000 border guards, the Minister stressed that it needs to be further assessed to see what is already available in the Rapid Reaction Pool, and how the proposed standing corps will reduce the flows in the central Mediterranean. The EU needs to make sure that the agency can provide effective support to the member states when required, without making that a perpetual state of assistance and without having a serious impact on the member state’s own resources and sovereignty, and whether it goes counter to international law.

During the discussion on the Return Directive, Minister Michael Farrugia welcomed the proposed recast of the Directive that enhances the effectiveness of the Union’s return policy. The Minister said that the appeals and asylum procedures are often abused by prospective returnees. He reiterated that the EU needs to approach third countries in a joined-up approach to effectively make a step change in cooperation on this issue.

The EU ministers also had a policy debate on the European Commission proposals in the context of the Multi-Annual Financial framework related to the Asylum Migration, Border Management and Visa, and the Internal Security Fund. Further on the agenda was a progress report on the Reform of the Common European Asylum System and Resettlement.

During lunch, the home affairs ministers exchanged views on migration. Minister Michael Farrugia gave a brief on migration in Malta and Malta’s experience in the ad-hoc disembarkation on a humanitarian basis and relocation process from 3 NGO ships. Minister Michael Farrugia insisted that in line with the principles of the Union and other values, cooperation on migration should be based on a mandatory solidarity between EU member states with an emphasis on mandatory relocation. This is to be coupled with a number of other initiatives where the EU puts into practice decisions taken in various summits for most in line with the Valletta Declaration.

In the margins of the conference, Minister Michael Farrugia held a bilateral meeting with Cyprus Minister of Interior Constantinos Petrides. Minister Michael Farrugia also held several meetings with other ministers during the conference.

Source: Government of Malta