Updated | Mifsud Bonnici welcomes voluntary resettlement, no meetings with Italian counterpart

EU commissioner Malmström says it is still premature to invoke solidarity mechanism for Italy and Malta.

A number of EU member states have voluntarily accepted to take a number of asylum seekers which landed in Malta last week, EU Commissioner for home affairs Cecilia Malmström said this afternoon.

Justice and home affairs minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici said practically half the EU-27, as well as Norway, would take asylum seekers under the temporary resettlement programme. Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, and Slovakia were among the nations mentioned that would alleviate the flow of asylum seekers to Malta.

Mifsud Bonnici was clear about the voluntary decision by the member states to take asylum seekers being of special benefit to Malta. After the JHA council meeting, Italian counterpart Roberto Maroni expressed his disappointment at the EU and said it "was not worth" being in the Union. Malmström said the EC had cooperated with Italy in alleviating the burden on its reception centres.

"Commissioner Malmström said the EC was not yet ready to trigger the Solidarity Mechanism but said Malta needs assistance. The directive in question is applicable for people who deserve international protection - asylum seekers - and not economic migrants.

"Malta has presented its case and in the meantime member states are going to take asylum seekers with temporary protection as part of the pilot resettlement project."

Asked by MaltaToday whether Malta or any member state had raised the issue of the Italian blockade of migrants saved by Malta earlier last week, Mifsud Bonnici simply stated that agreements with the Tunisian government existed with Italy and France but did not delve into the legality or otherwise of the Italian blockade.

He also said he had no opportunity to speak to Italian counterpart Roberto Maroni.

Earlier in the afternoon, Malmström said justice and home affairs ministers had mainly discussed the new immigration influx in the southern Mediterranean, and all member states had agreed to the council conclusions. “The EC has worked to evacuate refugees from Libya to Tunisia and Egypt, we have provided the funds available, and we will work on regional protection programmes and assistance for countries like Malta.

“The council has approved to prolong the pilot resettlement programme for migrants with temporary protection in Malta, which is a very small island with a limited capacity and we must support the country.”

She said the EC had reiterated that it was still premature for the solidarity mechanism to be invoked. “We recognise the huge pressure on Italy and Malta, but we are not their yet to launch that mechanism. There is a lot of countries.

"It is clear that the EC is performing a balancing act between the great numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in Tunisia and Egypt, and the pressure on Maltese capability to receive asylum seeker fleeing Libya."

Malmström said she had written to all ministers beforehand highlighting what the EC had done to alleviate the flow of migrants from Tunisia to Italy, strengthening Operation Hermes and Posidon and other Frontex capacities.

European Commissioner for justice and home affairs Cecilia Malmström has displayed little enthusiasm for activating the EU’s solidarity mechanism in support of Malta and Italy’s roles in succouring asylum seekers leaving Libyan shores.

Earlier in the day, Malmström said the Solidarity Mechanism directive was a product of the Kosovo crisis, "so we’re talking of hundreds of refugees. We’re not there yet,” she told journalists as she entered the Council building for today’s meeting with European ministers of the interior.

“I think it’s too premature… there are other ways to show solidarity to Italy and Malta, the refugees in Libya that are coming to Europe and who require international protection.”

In her blog today, Malmström writes that many issues that will be discussed today will be overshadowed by the current situation in the Mediterranean. “The boats are still arriving in Lampedusa – sources say that they now even carry refugees from Côte d’Ivoire. Italy and Malta have both called for an activation of the Temporary Protection Directive. Everybody is talking about solidarity and today we’ll see what this means in practice.”

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Anthony Galea
"Carm, since Malta is not full up and according to Lt Col Brian Gatt you are coping very well, I don't see what the problem is. Now be a good boy and Cecilia will give you some gugù." What a pathetic little man.
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Body language says it all. ( oqghod hemm ja gahan tiftahx halqek, ghamel kif nghid jien) irrizenja ministru. Insult ghall Malta u ghall partit nazzjonalista.
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Look, Daniele, or whatever your name is, you'll never master anything if you don't open your mind.
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As was expected empty handed he went and empty handed he returned. Except of course for vague promises without any quantification of the figures each country would off-load. @Antoine Vella I have yet still to master your warped way of thinking!
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Mr Antoine Vella, may I remark that the inset picture's worth more than a million words. Regards
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Peter Cassar
@salgister That was exactly my point, malta and italy should not be compared and the least we associate with their joke of a government the better. My point is that 25,000 people in Italy are no European emergency but a smaller number in Malta would...that is why several European nations are already offering some help. And probably that is because we are not behaving like spoilt brats but as civilised people.
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I know now what the P of PL stand for: PANIC. . My home is Malta and "I" am sheltering a couple of thousand immigrants. No big deal.
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Micheal Bonanno
Mr. James Debono. Try not to compare Italy with Malta! Bhal ma jghid il-Malti, hemm bahar jaqsam (anke litteralment)! You're comparing a speck of dust with a large land mass. Can't you see that our country is overpopulated? Can't you see that accepting the illegal immigrants we would be endangering our lives, in more ways than one? And what assurance have we got that we're not admitting in our country terrorists? Please James, if you want to ridicule Joseph Muscat, do as you like, but think of our country first! Italy is seeing the danger of a great exodus from northern africa and an influx of immigrants to the European mainland. If this happens, and without outside help, we would be inundated with these immigrants, and you know what? Europe won't even lift a finger to help us! Then you can talk about isolation! Because we already are!
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Antwan Vella will you put your commitment where your mouth is and let us know the number of illegal immigrants you are sheltering in your own home. Numbers please.
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Peter Cassar
25,000 people in Italy do not constitute an emergency. That is a fact. In 1999 Italy took 50,000 from Kosovo without blackmailing europe. Malta's worst enemy in this crisis is an Italian government which is not taken seriously by anyone, invoking solidarity of europe after refusing to do so with romanians, exporting economic migrants to France while sending back asylum seekers to Malta. The more they stamp their feet the more ridiculous they sound. Emulating Italy's example would mean isolation.
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National interest should come first.
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Can't you see,that almost all the members states of the E.U are putting in the first place their national interest and protect their country from being invaded by illegal immigrants. This is the same Europe that Dr.Eddie Fenech Adami said that it's going to be a blessing to our country. This is the same E.U. that a few weeks ago was greatfull (?) to us for our eccellent cotribution for the evacuation of people from Libya. Where are those countries that their nationals were evacuated by the help of our country. I appeal to our government to keep first and foremost the interest of our country and take all the neccessary steps to stop this invation of illegal immigration. Where is the one who said that he have a "Par idejn sodi".
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Micheal Bonanno
Because, for us Maltese, Malta comes first and foremost. Not lackeys like you and your ilk Mr. Vella.
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Isn't it ironic that those who show least solidarity with African immigrants bleat shrillest when it comes to solidarity with Malta.
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Mhux hekk rid Dr Edwardo fenech adami idahhalna go Unjoni ewropea ghax kien qal li ma ridtx li Malta tibqa wehedha biex issa HBIEBEK ta l-Unjoni Ewropeo Dr Dwardu Fenech Adami ser IHALLUNA WEHEDNA INGERMU L-GHADMA TAL KLANDESTIJNI GHAX HADD!!!! MINNHOM MA JRID JGHIN LIL MALTA QED TARAW KEMM HIJA TAJBA L-UE SEWWA KIEN GHID KARMENU MIFSUD BONNICIli l-UE mhiex tajba ghalina u kellu RAGUN BIEX IGHBIEH
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Whilst European conglomerats multinational companies and traders wreck havoc in Africa exploiting the poor Africans out of their own rich resources: depleting virgin forest, uranium mining,iron ore, diamonds, gold, copper and what have you-the Maltese are suppose to accept all the Africans running for their lives.They get the gold and diamonds: we get the poor explioted Africans. Political correctness starts in Africa not in Europe when it is too late. Millions need a decent life in Africa but the greedy Europeans are too busy milking them dry! They preach to us; butlike the proverbial hypocrite , do the opposite!

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