PN says EU summit agreement ignores problems faced by Malta on migration

The PN said it was disappointed to see that the EU council summit had not lead to mandatory burden sharing among member states

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

The Nationalist Party has expressed its disappointment at the fact that a migration deal agreed upon at the EU Counil summit currently underway in Brussels did not factor in Maltese interests.

“For the first time, in a declaration on immigration the European Union chose not to consider the problems being faced by our country, which are in fact not mentioned at all,” the PN said in a statement on Friday.

“The Opposition is concerned when it sees that on the one hand irregular immigration is a national priority that needs the help of the European Union to solve, while on the other hand

The Opposition said it was concerned that despite the fact that “irregular immigration” was a national priority that needs help from the EU, the agreement reached had only considered the interests of other countries like Italy, Germany, Spain and Greece.

It said it was also disappointing to note that European leaders had still not agreed on a burden sharing framework that was obligatory and not voluntary.

“In light of the present situation, as well as the latest cases of irregular immigration in the Mediterranean, one would have expected that this happens, because our country will face difficulties if it must face bigger challenges in the coming months.”

It added that this was of even greater concern when one considered that “the immigration challenge had been ignored” over the past four years.

The PN said it was in favour of the creation of reception centres in safe African countries that observe human rights and applied rules for humanitarian protection.

“For this reason, [the PN] is encouraging Joseph Muscat to convince the Prime Ministers in his political group, who appear not to have been convinced by the idea for the creation of these centres,” it said.

The PN added that the European Asylum Support Office in Malta had been left out of the declaration and insisted that it needed to be part of an effective solution.

It said that while it was positive more funds to be given to the Trust Fund for Africa, the government needed to also insist for increased investment in the European budget beyond 2020.

Finally, the PN said, it believed that the Dublin regulations needed to be reformed. It urged the government to push for such reforms since the EU could not leave member states closest to Africa alone.

Labour Party reaction

In a reaction, the Labour Party (PL) said the PN was choosing to be negative at the end of a week where Muscat “took a leadership role on a European level, which led to the distribution of the burden of migrants that were coming to Malta shared”.

It stressed that the achievement was “something no other European Union country managed to do.” 

The PL said that it appeared like the PN’s spokespersons “had not understood what happened in Brussels during the EU Council”.

“On a European level there will be little change, save for a concrete proposal put forward by Malta in the national interest, in the interest of southern Mediterranean states, and with respect for the safety of people at sea,” the party said.

“Through this proposal the Libyan coast guard we be allowed to work according to international laws without obstacles.”

The PL said that if the PN was determined to criticise the government then it should do so constructively.