European Economic and Social Committee calls for Dublin Convention overhaul

European Economic and Social Committee member Stefano Mallia amendments calling for fair sharing of responsibility on migration accepted

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has called for a common EU immigration policy established on the basis of harmonised legislation that must “be governed by the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility between the Member States.”

The report was discussed and approved during the EESC July plenary session, where Malta has five members, with Stefano Mallia proposing the concept of fair sharing of responsibility and proportionate distribution of responsibility among member states.

The report received a very strong vote of approval and puts forward a number of proposals with regards to the setting up of EU migration offices in countries of origin and the management of borders. On the latter it says that the EU must take responsibility for monitoring its external borders, “which are the borders of the entire European Union”. It also calls for Frontex to be transformed into “a European border guard service”.

The report also calls for an overhaul of the Dublin System which should be replaced with “a more inclusive system that takes account of asylum seekers’ wishes and that ensures a more proportionate distribution of responsibility among the Member States.”

Maltese representative Stefano Mallia submitted 15 amendments in all, 12 of which were accepted as submitted while three others were the subject of a compromise agreement with the two rapporteurs.

Mallia expressed satisfaction with the acceptance of his amendments and said  “this is a good strong report which calls on the new Commission and the Italian Presidency to tackle the crucial areas with regards to immigration. This is a critical moment. The flow of migration in the Mediterranean is no longer manageable. With a new Commission coming in and Italy taking the Presidency this is possibly the best opportunity we have to register real progress in the area.”

The EESC plenary was also addressed by Italian Secretary of State Sandro Gozi who outlined the work programme and priorities of the Italian Presidency for the next six months.

While referring to immigration, Gozi said that the situation in the Mediterranean was no longer sustainable and that Operation Mare Nostrum could no longer remain just an Italian operation but should rather become an EU operation.

He also referred to the hypocrisy of the EU “that produces wonderful papers whilst people were dying out at sea every day”.

Addressing the State Secretary, Mallia said “I congratulate you and your government for the courageous position you have taken and for the sterling work you are carrying out. In less than six months you have saved tens of thousands of lives with little or no help from anyone. Italy is an example to all the other EU Member States”.

Mallia said that “the citizens of Italy, Malta, Spain and Greece feel abandoned. Where is the solidarity that the EU is meant to be built on?”. He also urged the Secretary of State to re-haul the Dublin system, to develop relations with third countries and to “give Frontex a real budget’ with which to work”.