Updated | Malta to contribute €1.1 million to Turkey refugee fund

Labour MEP Alfred Sant says Malta will give Turkey €1.1 million as part of the EU’s €3 billion agreement to help stem the flow of refugees into Europe

The agreement between the European Union and Turkey for the latter to help stem the flow of refugees into Europe will cost Malta €1.1 million, figures published by the European Council confirm.

The accord between the EU and Ankara puts into practice the commitment made by the European Union at its summit with Turkey in November. Under the agreement, Turkey will be receiving €3 billion as part of the EU’s drive to convince the country to stem the flow of refugees and to address the humanitarian needs of the approximately 2.3 million refugees currently residing in the country.

Earlier, Labour MEP Alfred Sant said the EU budget would contribute €1 billion to the Refugee Facility Fund for Turkey, while the remaining €2 billion will be financed by the 28 member states, including Malta.

Figures published by the European Council show that Malta, the EU’s lowest contributor, will have to pay Turkey €1.1 million as its share of the agreement. Germany, on the other hand, is the bloc’s top contributor at €427.5 million, followed by the United Kingdom and France at €327.6 million and €309 million respectively.

The timeframe of the provision of the money is still unknown with Turkey yet to receive the €3 billion in financial aid.

The contentious agreement, which was signed earlier this month after Italy withdrew its opposition to the plan, envisages a drastic decrease in the number of refugee arrivals in Europe after more than 1 million people reached Europe last year.

But despite Malta receiving only a small amount of refugees from Middle Eastern countries, Labour MEP Alfred Sant has warned that it would be an “illusion” for the Maltese to ignore the refugee crisis.

“The Maltese people need to take a direct interest in the European refugee crisis as it could influence their future. It is true that Malta seems to have been cocooned from the latest disruptions caused by the thousands of refugees coming over to Europe from the Middle East, but it is an illusion to think that Malta can just ignore what is going on.”

“The situation will remain problematic for as long as the civil war in Syria is not stopped and Libya remains a dangerously unstable country,” he said while addressing the general meeting of the Birkirkara Labour Party Centre.

Sant, Malta’s former prime minister and head of the Labour MEP delegation, also said the crisis risks collapsing the Schengen area within the next two months.

“That would not be in Malta’s interest. The fundamental problem is that though the only way by which to contain the crisis is through a European solution, there is no real agreement between member states of the EU on the issue. Member states are not keeping their commitments and they are not trusting each other," Sant argued.

The Labour MEP also warned that a plan to empower Frontex - the EU's border control agency - to exert direct control over the EU's external borders could result in a “big cession of sovereignty” as national governments may have to cede from controlling their borders in case of emergencies.

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