EU leaders willing to proceed with solutions on migration, Muscat says

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that a number of operational proposals will be discussed in the European Council at the end of this week

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that a balance needs to be struck between humanitarian concerns and security issues
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that a balance needs to be struck between humanitarian concerns and security issues

Malta’s proposals were mirrored by the majority of EU leaders during Sunday’s European Commission informal meeting, which 16 member states attended, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Monday.

“A balance needs to be struck between humanitarian concerns and security… and in this regard, a number of proposals will be discussed in the European Council by the end of this week.”

The EU’s Operation Sophia should have a more central role, and the Libyan authorities need to be given a chance to do what is expected from them, Muscat said. 

Muscat said that the Italian Prime Minister also put forward a number of proposals, which should be considered, although many of them are already being implemented.

A discussion on the various NGOs which operate outside the Libyan coast also took place, Muscat said. “The MV Lifeline did not obey the orders from the rescue centre, and this is a problem which in itself creates a humanitarian risk,” he said, adding that EU members will be discussing the ‘trend’ of rescue vessels which are being registered as ‘pleasure craft boats.’

Muscat said that, today, for the third time, the country offered medical assistance to MV Lifeline.

Answering questions put forth by former PN leader Simon Busuttil, Muscat said in the case of a humanitarian crisis, a completely different set of rules would take over. “The rules which govern us change according to the situation. Right now, we are following international maritime law. In the case of a humanitarian crisis, we would follow a different set of rules.”

In regards to the situation with Italy, Muscat said that Malta ought to show restraint. “The feedback we are getting is that, as some individuals in Italy are realising, the interests of Malta and Italy are very similar.”

Malta is both “too prepared” and “not prepared enough” for a migrant crisis, Muscat said. “It depends what happens, and in what context. We need to continue being prepared as much as possible, and maintain a united front.”

Read also: Italy deputy PM Matteo Salvini wants migrant reception centres along Libya's southern border

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