Muscat and Tusk discuss migration ahead of EU summit

Europe’s attention was shifted to migration in the Mediterranean this week by an ongoing policy dispute between Malta and Italy

European  Council President Donald Tusk (left) with Maltese Prime  Minister Joseph Muscat (File Photo)
European Council President Donald Tusk (left) with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (File Photo)

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had a telephone conversation with European Council President Donald Tusk on Thursday evening, the Office of the Prime Minister has said.

According to an issued statement the two “focused on the issue of migration and the next European Council”.

Migration has been a hotly debate subject in Europe this week after an apparent shift in Italy’s migrant policy exposed member states’ differing positions on how migration should be handled.

In comments to journalists yesterday, Muscat said he hoped the past week’s events were just a “blip”, adding that he hoped Malta and Italy’s relationship could be normalised as soon as possible.

Later in the day however, Italian Infrastructure minister Danilo Toninelli told Italian journalists that if the Maltese were not able to administer its vast search and rescue area, Italy was willing to take it.

Toninelli’s comments were described as having no legal or political basis by the Maltese government.   

Muscat’s conversation with Tusk is the fourth conversation about migration he has had with a European leader this week following that with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday and European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker, yesterday.

During Juncker’s conversation with Muscat, he assured him that “according to the Commission’s appraisal, Malta behaved according to international rules in the” case of the MV Aquarius.

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