Migration, climate change and Europe’s budget: Key takeaways from the Med9 summit

The Med9 summit, held in Malta last Friday, saw leaders from the EU’s Mediterranean countries come together to discuss various critical issues. NICOLE MEILAK was there to follow the event, and these are the key takeaways and sticking points that emerged

Robert Abela welcoming French President Emmanuel Macron (Photo: James Bainchi / Mediatoday)
Robert Abela welcoming French President Emmanuel Macron (Photo: James Bainchi / Mediatoday)


The Med9 leaders, in a joint declaration, called on co-legislators to agree on the EU’s migration pact before the legislative term’s end.

Robert Abela stressed that irregular migration impacts all of Europe and that tackling this issue requires cooperation across the continent. He also insisted that the pact must ensure the needs of border states are met.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni echoed Abela’s sentiments, emphasising the need for a structural solution to migration. She argued that individual countries cannot handle the migration challenge alone and called for a united approach to address the root causes of immigration.

The summit itself comes hot off the heels of a council meeting between the EU’s home affairs ministers to negotiate a compromise on the crisis regulation of the EU’s migration package.

This regulation had been blocked by the German government, but interior minister Nancy Faeser eventually revealed that they will vote in favour of the deal. Now, Italy is the one dragging its feet on the migration reform.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron extended solidarity to southern countries affected by natural catastrophes, particularly Morocco and Libya. He called for a united response by Europe and improved internal cooperation to combat illegal migration.

Two weeks ago, Lampedusa was overwhelmed as thousands of people arrived on its shores from Tunisia within the span of six days. Von der Leyen and Meloni visited a migration reception centre on the island and pledged support to the island, with von der Leyen insisting on a European solution to the migration challenge.

However, France insisted that it will not take in any migrants from Lampedusa and decided to close its border with Italy by boosting border patrols and monitoring the Alps for any crossings.

But in a television interview last Sunday, Macron said that France “cannot leave the Italians alone”, a comment that was welcomed by Meloni.

The Med9 leaders gathered for a photo opportunity outside Castille (Photo: DOI)
The Med9 leaders gathered for a photo opportunity outside Castille (Photo: DOI)

Climate Change

Leaders recognised the disproportionate impact of the climate crisis on the Mediterranean region. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis emphasised the need for a balanced approach between mitigation and adaptation measures, highlighting the varying abilities of countries to protect themselves from natural disasters.

The Mediterranean region has been particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The past months have seen heatwaves, wildfires and storms wreak havoc in the region, prompting countries to rethink how the EU can step in to help with crisis relief.

Indeed, Slovenian prime minister Robert Golob said that climate change must be tackled immediately, and financially. “We put lots of money in how to carry out the green transition, but we’re not putting enough money into financial relief after natural disasters.”

Mitsotakis had previous underlined the need to strengten the EU Solidarity Fund to better fight the ffects of the climate crisis, an effort that was praised widely at the Med9 summit.

Prime Minister Robert Abela chairing the Med9 meeting (Photo: DOI)
Prime Minister Robert Abela chairing the Med9 meeting (Photo: DOI)

Portughese prime minister Antonio Costa expressed support with Mitsotakis on climate change, while expressing solidarity with Slovenia and Greece, which were recently affected by storms and natural disasters.

“We’re in a place in the world where the consequences of climate change affect us, and we are very well aware of the importance of the green transition. We have to act in a way that we can contribute to reach our goals, and those of the Paris agreement, and reduce global warming,” he said.

The mid-term budget

The leaders discussed the importance of economic governance, with Mitsotakis noting the need to avoid past mistakes and allow member states to have their fiscal paths. This discussion included the revision of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) to address the challenges faced by the EU.

The MFF is a long-term budget that sets the limits on the EU’s annual general budgets. It outlines the EU’s spending priorities and allocates funding to various policy areas and programs for a specified period, typically seven years.

The MFF is negotiated and adopted through a complex process involving EU institutions, particularly the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union. This means that agreement on the MFF requires consensus among member states.

The MFF review could prove a headache for the European Commission, which will have to finance increased spending against a backdrop of rising prices, higher borrowing costs, and a war in Ukraine.

As it stands, the Commission’s proposal presented in June asks member states to fork out €66 billion to cover expenses related to Ukraine, migration management, and borrowing costs from the COVID-19 recovery plan, among other things.

The European Parliament has since adopted its position on the proposed review of the MFF, calling for top-ups to the tune of an additional €10 billion.

Meloni said during the Med9 summit that Italy is expecting massive resources from the MFF, while Croatia’s prime minister Andrej Plenković said that resources should also be put towards climate crisis relief.