Migration tops EU council meeting's agenda

UE leaders' summit in Brussels expected to endorse migration action plan drafted following migrant tragedies.

EU leaders will be meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow to discuss a series of issues, with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat eying an agreement on the implementation of the action plan on migration.

Earlier this month, the task force of EU member states identified a slew of actions to address the flow of migration from Africa into Europe, which will include both repatriating failed asylum seekers as well as "outsourcing" the processing of their claims in transit countries.

On Friday, the council is expected to endorse the 38-point action plan drawn up by the European Commission task force following Malta and Italy's insistence to put migration on the agenda after migrant tragedies in the Mediterranean.

The 38 "operational actions" established by the task force however do not include mandatory burden sharing mechanism, which the Maltese and Italian governments have been calling for.

Speaking after the last council meeting held in October, Muscat said the Council accepted to take operational decisions in December, including on the use of efficient short-term policies.

"This is the positive message from today's meeting. We got what we were really after: a specific timeframe. It would have been unacceptable if the debate were to be postponed until June," Muscat said.

Yesterday, The Opposition's spokesperson for home affairs Jason Azzopardi and Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola said the country was expecting the Prime Minister to achieve concrete results during this week's EU summit.

Azzopardi and Metsola insisted that the Prime Minister must be true to his words and return to Malta with concrete action adopted by the EU.

The establishment of the Task Force Mediterranean (TFM) was a proposal made at a meeting of European home affairs ministers in October, following the tragedies in the Mediterranean that saw hundreds of migrants and refugees drown at sea.

European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström announced the 38 measures, saying the TFM was instructed to issue a set of measures and priority actions, which should now be followed up by operational decisions during this week's council meeting.

EU leaders will also hold a thematic discussion on the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). They will look at the effectivenes of the CSDP and defence capabilities. Under the Economic and Monetary Union, they will make a shared analysis of the economic situation in the member states and in the Euro area as such. They will continue work on strengthening the economic policy coordination.

Leaders will also take stock of efforts to foster growth, jobs and competitiveness and review progress on taxation.