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Malta's experience with refugees could help EU reach solution, Schulz tells Muscat

European Parliament president Martin Schulz in Malta for EU presidency talks, tells Joseph Muscat that Malta's experience in handling refugees could help EU find solution to migration crisis

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
8 December 2016, 10:46am
European Parliament President Martin Schulz is escorted to Auberge de Castille (Photo: Chris Mangion/MediaToday)
European Parliament President Martin Schulz is escorted to Auberge de Castille (Photo: Chris Mangion/MediaToday)
Malta's decades-long experience in dealing with refugees could be an advantage in helping the EU reach solutions to the migration crisis, European Parliament president Martin Schulz said.

"Migration is at the forefront of the European Parliament's commitments," Schulz said during a meeting with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at Castille. "12 years ago, Malta was already hosting 15,000 refugees and its experience could be an advantage to us as we seek a solution [to the migration crisis]."

Schulz, along with a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament, is currently in Malta for bilateral talks with the government ahead of Malta's ascent to the EU rotating presidency in 2017.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat welcomes Martin Schulz in his office, where he signed the visitors' book
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat welcomes Martin Schulz in his office, where he signed the visitors' book
During a meeting with Muscat and other ministers, he said that Malta will be taking up the presidency during a time of unprecedented turbulence at the EU - ostensibly a reference to Brexit and the growing popularity of anti-EU parties across the continent.

"However, smaller member states often invest enormously in the EU presidency so they are often successes," he said. "Also, Malta is led by a Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister who used to be MEPs. It is rare to meet governments so experienced in europarliamentarianism." 

Muscat said that the EU is at a critical juncture and needs a clearer direction as to where it is heading. 

"The points Malta will put forward with regards migration, security, the single market and the digital economy are in sync with the European Parliament's views, but as presidents we must act as honest brokers so as to achieve progress."

He jokingly added that the Maltese Presidency will not suffer from delusions of grandeur, and that it will wrap up "the more boring dossiers that need to be concluded".