PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR HOME AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL SECURITY: Supporting the reform of the CEAS in its entirety – Minister Michael Farrugia

Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Michael Farrugia attended the Home Affairs Council meeting held on the 7th March in Brussels. The meeting was chaired by Carmen Dan, the Romanian Minister of Home Affairs. The topics of migration, the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and Resettlement, European Union cooperation with third countries, the European Border and Coast Guard Regulation, and counter-terrorism featured high in the meeting’s agenda.

Minister Michael Farrugia emphasised that discussions on the Dublin Regulation remain pivotal and more progress in this regard needs to be adopted. The minister reiterated that the discussions on temporary arrangements should not come at the cost of delaying further discussions on the Dublin Regulation. Malta has always been supportive of the reform of the CEAS in its entirety, ensuring shared responsibility and solidarity. The minister recalled last June’s European Council direction and instructions to find a speedy solution to the changes needed in the Dublin Regulations. Minister Farrugia insisted that it was the responsibility of the home affairs ministers to conclude and agree on the way forward and not to postpone it to some future date. He added that if the member states fail in finding a solution, then the member states are failing the European Council decision. Minister Michael Farrugia said that the EU needs to address the asylum reform comprehensively and affirmed Malta’s position to endorse a one whole package instead of a split one.

During the exchange of views on cooperation with North African countries, Minister Michael Farrugia maintained that Morocco and Tunisia should be considered priority countries and that long-term, comprehensive assistance programmes should be developed with these countries. The EU should step up support and assistance as much as possible for Libya with regards to coastguards and border control entities so as to prevent flows and help to save lives at sea. He added that Malta has recently entered into an agreement with Tunisia that seeks to contribute to labour and employment cooperation between the two countries, thus creating legal migration routes between them. Cooperation with North African countries should be based on a two-way framework, particularly in the area of returns, and in order to dismantle the smugglers business model.

Over lunch, the home affairs ministers discussed priorities for the future in the field of migration, security, the fight against organised crime and cooperation amongst other topics.

In the margins of the informal meeting, Minister Michael Farrugia held bilateral meetings with the German Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer and the Spanish State Secretary for Migration Consuelo Rumi on the topic of migration. Other short meetings were also held with other ministers.

Source: Government of Malta