Maltese MEPs urge EU to start tackling Libya crisis effectively

Head of Malta’s EP office Peter Agius says MEPs play a critical role in raising the Union’s attention to its role in Libya

Maltese members of the European Parliament play a critical role in raising the European Union’s attention to its role in Libya and have been active in doing so, Peter Agius, head of the European Parliament office in Malta, said.

“The recent terrorist attack on the Corinthia hotel in Libya reminds us of the fragile situation in this neighbouring country. The Maltese ownership of the hotel marks an additional level of proximity,” Agius said.

During a lecture held at Europe House last December, Ahmed El Senussi, the 2011 Sakharov Prize Laureate, spoke of the extent of the current instability in Libya.

“Above all, he pointed out how this would undoubtedly have an adverse effect on Malta. El Senussi also pointed out that Malta is a sincere friend to the Libyan cause and can promote solutions thanks to its credibility,” Agius said.

Ahead of the two Plenary Sessions held in January, Pier Antonio Panzeri, an MEP aligned with the Socialists & Democrats party and the chair of the delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries, stated that ''Libya is at risk of becoming a failed state'', facilitating illicit activities such as the presence of terrorist cells as well as perpetuating the issue of irregular migration, due to conflicts within the Middle East and North African countries.

The issue of terrorism within and outside of our borders has also been tackled by the Maltese MEPs.

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli said that “the EU is underestimating the risk of IS militants infiltrating Europe's shores”. PN MEP Robert Metsola suggested that a new passenger name record system would help increase citizen safety, since this would lead to a higher degree of harmonisation and sharing of information between Member States.

During the January debates of the European Parliament plenary session, Dalli said that whilst the EU has at times focused a lot of energy on its Eastern borders, such focus came at the detriment of relations with its Southern neighbours.

She said that it was is time to reverse these trends to promote a better well-being for the Libyan citizens. Some 400,000 people are believed to have been displaced as a result of the ongoing conflict.

Echoing Dalli’s comments, Labour MEP Marlen Mizzi recently  criticised the agenda as set out by the Latvian Council Presidency, which focuses on the EU's Eastern borders at the detriment of issues faced by Southern European countries.

With particular reference to Libya, MEPs commended the UN-chaired Geneva conferences as a positive first step that would hopefully lead to the reconciliation between the different factions present in Libya.

Whilst political debates are of outmost importance, the peacekeeping initiative led by the United Nations is also highly significant, with Italy agreeing to spearhead such an initiative under the guidance of the United Nations.

The Maltese EP office said that improved conditions in Libya would also impact Malta, Italy and other Mediterranean countries due to the relevance that this crisis has on immigration.

A strong government and legal enforcement force is necessary to nip the rising of a new phenomenon, that of ghost ships.

PN MEPs Roberta Metsola and Therese Comodini Cachia spoke of the importance of tackling this challenge. With ghost ships, hundreds of migrants are being forced on boats which are no longer sea-worthy and are allowed to drift in the Mediterranean without any crew present to guide these boats towards a safe port.

More in National