Provisional figures show Malta to take in 74 migrants in relocation, resettlement plans

Member states agree to share out only 32,000 migrants although Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela says talks will continue

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopolous
EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopolous
Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela and Malta's perm rep to the EU Marlene Bonnici
Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela and Malta's perm rep to the EU Marlene Bonnici

A table with the provisional figures issued by the European Council shows that Malta is set to receive just 74 migrants in relocation and resettlement plans, down from some 300 migrants.

The plan was agreed today by the Council of ministers. Malta will be taking in 14 asylum seekers under the resettlement plan and 60 under the relocation scheme.

According to a EU action plan on migration, member states were to agree on the relocation of 40,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy and the resettlement of 20,000 others. Failing to meet the numbers, the Council has so agreed to the figure of 32,256.

Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela, in Brussels for the meeting of the home affairs council, said that the figures for the first year have been agreed. Talks will continue for the second year. He said that even though the original target was not reached, this was much more than was ever achieved.

“Malta's stand represents a commitment to EU responsibility while taking into account the country’s specificities so as to continue safeguarding national interest," he added.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopolous expressed his disappointment for the lack of agreement. Nonetheless, he welcomed today’s decision as “a very important step forward”.

“This shows a voluntary scheme is difficult to implement,” he said, adding that the EU planned to meet the 40,000 pledge before end of year.

On 26 June, the EU leaders had agreed to the "temporary and exceptional" relocation of 40,000 persons “in clear need of international protection”. The scheme is not mandatory.

Austria stuck to its guns and categorically refused to take in any migrants while the United Kingdom and Denmark applied their opt-out clauses. Despite its possibility to opt-out, Ireland agreed to take in 600 migrants. Due to its own situation, it was agreed that Hungary does not participate in the scheme.

The relocation plan had been announced to support and “show solidarity” with frontline countries most affected by irregular migration.

The first quarter of this year saw 184,800 first-time asylum seekers reaching the European Union, an 86% increase on the year earlier period. Germany and Hungary were the biggest destination countries for the migrants, followed by Italy.

The Council also approved a new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for the period 2015-2019. With this Action Plan, the Council reaffirms the European Union's commitment to promote and protect human rights and to support democracy worldwide.