Minister Abela and EP Vice-President discuss Malta’s home affairs EU Presidency priorities; Malta to monitor implementation of migration measures agreed during Valletta Summit during its EU Presidency

Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Carmelo Abela and European Parliament Vice-President Alexander Graf Lambsdorff discussed Malta’s top priorities in the home affairs domain when the country holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union between January and July 2017. The meeting was held at the Ministry’s building in Valletta on Friday 2nd September 2016.

Minister Abela said that, in the home affairs domain, migration and asylum, as well as security and the fight against terrorism, will be prioritised. Drawing attention to the importance of increasing cooperation with the EP before and during the course of Malta’s Presidency, the Minister pointed out that he has already met with a number of MEPs, both in Malta and in Brussels, to discuss Malta’s Presidency priorities, and that other similar meetings have already been scheduled for the coming weeks.

He said that, with due consideration to its limitations, Malta is doing its part in the search for an equitable solution to both the internal and the external aspects of the migration challenge. “Ensuring a link between the internal and external dimension of migration and asylum remains essential,” the Minister said. “Malta plans to monitor the implementation of the measures that have already been agreed upon in this regard, including by following up on the November 2015 Valletta Summit on Migration that brought together European and African Heads of State and Government in an effort to strengthen cooperation and address both the challenges and the opportunities of migration. In connection with this, a senior officials’ meeting will take place in Malta during its EU Presidency next year.”

The Minister and the EP’s Vice-President agreed on the importance of Libya having a stable government, not only for its own benefit but also for Europe to have a single interlocutor with whom to engage on pressing issues like migrant smuggling. Minister Abela said that Malta welcomed Tuesday’s EU decision to authorise EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia to initiate the two additional supporting tasks of the training of the Libyan coastguard and navy, as well as contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya. Malta has on numerus occasions declared its willingness to do its part in the training of the Libyan Coast Guard.

Vice-President Lambsdorff commended Malta’s state of preparedness for the forthcoming Presidency of the EU. He also exressed appreciaton of the important role the country plays in pursuit of a durable solution to the challenges posed by the irregular migration phenomenon, as well as its continuous operations in the large Maltese search and rescue area of more than a quarter of a million square kilometres.

Minister Abela was accompanied at the meeting by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Kevin Mahoney; the Ministry’s Director of Policy Development and Programme Implementation Josette Zerafa, who was also accompanied by officers Joseph St John and Stephanie Bason; International Affairs Political Coordinator Alessandro Mangion; and Research Analyst at the EU Secretariat Leandro Borg. On his part, Vice-President Lambsdorrf was accompanied at the meeting by Chief of Staff Kristof Kleemann and Political Adviser for Foreign Affairs Louisa von Uslar.

While in Malta, the EP’s Vice-President also visited the Armed Forces of Malta’s Headquarters in Luqa where he was given a presentation on the army’s role and operations in connection with irregular migration, as well as the Marsa Open Centre, which is run by the Agency for the Wefare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS).

Source: Government of Malta