Fort St Angelo, which over the years has served as the guardian of the Maltese coastline, will now host the Malta meeting of Home Affairs Ministers representing Malta, Italy, France and Germany, so that together with Finland, presently holding the Presidency of the European Union, and European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos, they will discuss a document on migration.
The meeting in Malta is the culmination of several initiatives taken in recent months towards solutions to situations being created, particularly with migrants on board NGO-owned vessels.
Malta and Italy are proposing an automatic relocation system for migrants rescued in the Mediterranean. TVM is informed that if this agreement is reached, it will mean an end, once and for all, to situations with migrants ending up in limbo on the open seas on NGO vessels.
On the eve of the ministerial meeting in Malta, Home Affairs and National Security Minister Michael Farrugia told TVM that rules governing disembarkation of migrants will be a crucial part of this agreement which he hopes will be reached with the Home Affairs Ministers of Italy, France and Germany.
“We are saying that persons disembarking from NGO boats should not be landed only in Malta and Lampedusa, but there should be a rotation of jointly participating ports. I also have to state, on the principle of rotation, which countries will be presenting themselves, because if we end up with just Malta and Italy we will not have solved anything.”
France and Italy are thinking along the same lines, and have declared that migrants rescued in the Mediterranean should be relocated automatically to European Union countries. This has been stated by French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during a meeting in Rome prior to Monday’s Malta meeting
“There should be more solidarity, which is still a very scarce commodity in Europe. The European Union has not given enough proof of solidarity with countries at first base, and France is prepared to change on this point in the context of a total revision of the Dublin agreement,” President Macron declared.
Minister Farrugia said that the Ministers for Home Affairs will ensure that NGOs adhere to the law when conducting rescue operations at sea.
“There were two proposals presented before the Council of Home Affairs Ministers, one between France and Germany and the other between Malta and Italy. In Helsinki we agreed, the four Ministers involved, to meet together and try and get these two proposals closer; the aim is to achieve political consensus between the Ministers towards arriving at one proposal,” Minister Farrugia stated.
TVM is informed that according to the draft document to be discussed in Malta, whenever vessels from these French and German organisations are allowed to disembark migrants in the nearest safe port, within a month the Governments of France and Germany will be obliged to take the migrants rescued by their respective organisations.
“We have to make sure the system we will be creating wil not serve as an attraction for persons to end up on dangerous dinghies which will not be able to make it from North Africa to Malta, let alone to Italy. And we also have to make sure the NGOs operate in a regulated environment rather than in a free-for-all,” Minister Farrugia added.
Final touches are in process at Fort St Angelo in preparation for the meeting which is expected to start at 10.30 a.m., and which will be concluded with a media conference.