PM calls for stronger fight against traffickers as migration dominates EU Council summit

Prime Minister Robert Abela advocates for enhanced resources for neighbouring North African countries to combat human trafficking

Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: Department of Information)
Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: Department of Information)

Prime Minister Robert Abela has called for a stronger fight against human traffickers after attending an EU Council Summit dominated by migration.

In a ministerial statement delivered in Parliament, the Prime Minister gave an overview of what was discussed during a recent EU Council summit.

Migration was top of the agenda during the summit. EU leaders were set to reach a deal on a new migration pact, but negotiations came to a halt after Hungary and Poland vetoed the deal.

Abela said that efforts should be diverted towards fending off human traffickers and organised crime groups who exploit migrants looking to go to Europe.

“We believe that the way to tackle this challenge effectively is by strengthening the fight against human traffickers,” he said.

Abela said that resources should be given to Malta’s neighbouring countries, particularly in North Africa, to combat human trafficking.

He also said that human trafficking efforts can be weakened by making sure anyone who enters the country irregularly, and who is not eligible for asylum, is returned to their home country.

“If we allow for the asylum system to be abused in this way,it would be unfair on those who come and actually deserve protection.”

Abela said that he will be testifying in court on Tuesday, together with Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri to “defend the country’s actions” after some migrants were kept on tourist boats during the pandemic to avoid embarking them in Malta.

Abela also touched on the economy and the EU Single Market. He said that the European Council agreed that the European Commission should speed up negotiations on the Pharmaceutical Package.

Part of this package will ensure that medicine manufacturers supply their products to patients in every Member State, and not select countries.

“Malta will benefit from this because access to medicines should increase,” he said.

Abela also announced that he will visit Tunisia next week , noting that a memorandum of understanding was signed recently between the EU and Tunisia.

“We have to be vigilant on what is happening in Tunisia and prevent a repeat of what happened in Libya. We cannot allow instability to grow there too, and we need to help as much as possible before the problem ends up on our shores.”