Martin Schultz makes pitch for legal migration

European Parliament president Martin Scultz calls for introduction of legal migration channels and declines to take stand on Malta's threat to use veto.

The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz this morning called on EU member states introduce a legal migration system and manage a quota system.

During a press conference held with the president of Sicily and the mayor of Lampedusa, Schulz argued in favour of legal migration, which would ensure the safe entry of migrants to Europe.

The EP president was also asked whether he agreed with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's threat to veto EU decisions if no tangible measures were agreed by the European Council, however Schulz diplomatically said that Muscat would make his position clear during the summit which will be held today and tomorrow.

Schulz, a former colleague of Muscat, said that the Prime Minister was only describing the reality in Malta and asking for solidarity from other countries.

"This is understandable, Muscat is a man with strong convictions and I am sure that tonight he will confront his colleagues with his strong stand."

He added that he would wait and see whether Muscat's intervention would convince the heads of state to undertake tangible measures to show solidarity with Malta.

Echoing the European Parliament's stand on migration, Schulz said that Europe must be able to manage migration in the same way other continents managed migration from Europe in the past.

He stressed that the solution lies beyond changing the Dublin II convention, which only deals with political asylum.

"We will not solve problems by using exclusively the Dublin Convention which only covers political asylum. We are dealing with refugees coming from civil wars such as the migrants who reached Europe from Lebanon in the eighties seeking temporary protection. These persons have now returned to Lebanon and helped rebuild the country."

Schulz insisted that EU countries must grant temporary protection and open legal channels for migrations, in the same manner the US, New Zealand and other countries have.

"I come from the Left and my message to my friends on the Left is this, Europe needs an immigration system. There is a border and who wants to cross them must ask. But they must be able to do so legally, this would be a strike against criminal gangs behind illegal migration."

He added that legal migration meant "hope," while illegal migration meant "handing people to criminals."

Schulz conceded that this would not happen easily, however he called on all 28 member states to manage quota system and distribute migrants throughout the continent.

He added that such an agreement was difficult to achieve since the EU was made up of "very heterogeneous countries" who could not even come to an agreement on sharing responsibility over persons granted political protection, let alone on temporary protection.

Paul Pandolfino
Does not legal migration makes more easy for migrants to enter Malta? Is this not far from the push back advocated by Joseph?