Ministers meeting on European border security focuses on migration issues

Home affairs minister attends informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers in Luxembourg discussing security of European borders 

Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela and Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider
Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela and Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider

Home affairs minister Carmelo Abela, met with the High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini as well as with the deputy prime minister of Luxembourg, Etienne Schneider at an informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers held in Luxembourg between 2nd and 3rd September 2015.

 “Much of the debate was focused on the issue of migration flows from unstable regions as a result of recent events in southern and central Europe,” a government statement reads.

It adds that ministers touched on the launch of the new CSDP military naval operation in the southern central Mediterranean to disrupt human smuggling networks, known as EUNAVFOR MED.

 “Malta has contributed to this new operation all the way from planning to inception through specialised personnel from the Armed Forces of Malta in Brussels and at its headquarters in Rome,” Abela pointed out.

The head of this operation, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino gave an outline of his activities and intentions especially on the need to strengthen the operation further - subject to the right conditions being in place - notably by implementing a proper legal framework to enable action closer to Libyan coasts as well as to enable it to secure a sufficiently greater level of military capabilities.

Abela expressed his thanks to Credendino for his ongoing efforts to address challengeswhich, as Minister responsible jointly for home affairs and defence matters, similarly commanded his attention. 

“Malta supports the progress since the launch of EUNAVFOR MED and the efforts to establish a clearer picture of the migrant smuggling situation in the Central Southern Mediterranean, and it has also looked forward to the EU obtaining the necessary UN Security Council resolution and Libyan consent for operating in Libyan waters, to enable the operation’s progress towards its mission objectives,” Abela said.

He added that Malta had stressed from the outset that the migration flows are not just an issue for the southernmost EU Member States, but a European problem.

“This problem should be tackled in the same way the EU deals with challenges on its other borders, and with the same resolve,” he said, stressing that the tragic deaths of some 800 refugees on the night between 18th and 19th April 2015 had accelerated momentum to the realization of the changing realities across Europe.

“Migration is not only related to the African continent but as events in wider Europe have recently demonstrated, the spillover of instability from Syria and Iraq is increasingly contributing to the scale of migration flows from that region.”

Abela said that following the launch of EUNAVFOR MED and the achievement of a sufficiently detailed intelligence picture of the situation during phase 1, the EU needs to mark concrete steps forward to enable the operation to move to the subsequent phases where greater effect on the smuggling networks can be achieved.

“This political backing has to come hand-in-hand with the assurance that sufficient resources are made available to EUNAVFOR MED in order to enable it to achieve its objectives.”

“The migration problem needs to be tackled with resolve,” he said insisting that the events at Europe’s borders reconfirmed more than ever before the urgency to link internal and external security.