Irregular migration “a tragedy which affects all nations”, says Manuel Mallia

Home Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia attends a seminar on maritime integration within the European Union.

Minister Mallia with Italian Minister for Defence, Roberta Pinotti.
Minister Mallia with Italian Minister for Defence, Roberta Pinotti.

The Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Manuel Mallia, said that the EU Maritime Security Strategy is an opportunity for increased cooperation between EU Member States, particularly in dealing with irregular immigration in the Mediterranean.

Mallia said that when the Commission launched its communication on a European Maritime Security Strategy, the Maltese government immediately recognised that it presented opportunities for EU member states to work more closely together, and for the EU as a whole to work better with third countries in increasing safety and security at sea.

The minister was delivering a speech during the seminar “Towards an effective European Maritime Integration: the implementation of the EU Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS) and the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE)”.He had been invited to take part by the Italian Minister for Defence, Roberta Pinotti.

The strategy aims to establish a comprehensive framework to ensure a stable and secure maritime domain, emphasising coherence with EU internal policies, so as to achieve a balance between protecting the Union’s security interests and ensuring the competitiveness of the maritime sector on a global level.

This political and strategic framework will provide the impetus for wider maritime security architecture within the EU, and with third countries in the Mediterranean Sea basin. It will also address how to counter cross-border crime such as the smuggling of migrants.

Mallia welcomed the fact that the strategy emphasised the need to make best use of the established legal framework and respected the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, avoiding encroaching on Member States’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction, particularly in relation to the delimitation of maritime zones by member states. He added that government supported the promotion of better maritime governance on a global level through participation within the respective international fora. Such an approach should be achieved within the current legal framework and through established procedures.

He said the government was now looking forward to the proposed action plan to put this strategy into practice, and would actively cooperate with the Italian Presidency of the EU. This Action Plan would need to reflect the realities of all member states, avoiding encroaching on internal structures already in place. He warned against the creation of additional costly structures and obligations.

During the Seminar, Mallia mentioned the situation on migration within the Mediterranean, emphasising that this was primarily a human tragedy that affected all nations and not just those in the southern Mediterranean. He said criminal syndicates exploited the weaknesses and hopes of persons who wished for a better future and put lives at risk.  There was an increasing need to work to stop these criminal activities, and prevent tragedies at sea.

In this context, the minister joined the Prime Minister in urging the European Union to support Italy’s “Mare Nostrum” operation. As Minister Alfano had stated, this phenomenon was not only a Mediterranean problem, but one that impacted the whole of Europe. 

During this Seminar, discussions were also conducted on the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) project, which should assist maritime stakeholders in taking the required decisions by providing them with a more accurate picture of maritime activities throughout European waters.