EU leaders to meet informally on migration as hope fades for summit breakthrough

Joseph Muscat will attend Sunday’s informal meeting of European leaders called by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss migration

Migration will be discussed in an informal meeting ahead of the EU summit
Migration will be discussed in an informal meeting ahead of the EU summit

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called an informal meeting on migration for EU leaders ahead of their summit later this month.

The meeting is expected to be held in Brussels on Sunday in light of the recent standoff between Italy and Malta on the migrant rescue ship Aquarius.

Jean-Claude Juncker's call for an informal meeting
Jean-Claude Juncker's call for an informal meeting

Juncker communicated the announcement in a tweet, which was promptly followed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s acceptance.

In a tweet, Muscat said Malta “will remain consistent with its principles”, and will be looking forward to contribute to the debate.

Joseph Muscat's prompt reply, accepting Juncker's invite
Joseph Muscat's prompt reply, accepting Juncker's invite

The informal meeting comes as Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio upped the ante on Malta with a veiled threat to shut off Malta's electricity interconnector with Sicily.

It also comes amid lack of hope that the EU summit of leaders at the end of the month will broker a breakthrough agreement on reforming the Dublin regulations that govern asylum processes.

Malta had refused entry to the Aquarius on the basis that the closest, safest port of call after the rescue was Lampedusa.

Italian authorities had ordered the ship to stay put some 27 miles off Malta after closing its ports.

Italy’s refusal to take in the Aquarius was criticised internationally as having been in breach of international law.

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