As you very well know, the Maltese Government has always consistently expressed its support of the European Asylum Support Office (for example, see our earlier post reproducing Malta’s Minister of Justice and Home Affairs blog post on the occasion of the EASO premises’ inauguration in Malta).
EASO informed us this week (Press Release 04/2013, 26 June 2013) that Dr. Robert K. Visser, Executive Director of EASO and Malta’s Prime Minister, Dr. Joseph Muscat, have held a meeting to discuss various matters. During the meeting, EASO’s Executive Director thanked for the support provided by the Maltese Government in the Agency's set-up phase.
|From the Times of Malta.|
The meeting was held on 26 June and (unsurprisingly) “[t]he two discussed the Common European Asylum System, the asylum situation in Malta, and the measures and ways in which EASO can provide support to Member States, in particular to those Member States which are under particular asylum pressure”.
And naturally, the results of the ‘fact finding report on intra-EU relocation activities from Malta’ were not left aside during the discussion (by the way, we have several posts on the EUREMA initiative and on this particular report – read them here).
Malta’s Prime Minister also thanked EASO “for its work on this sensitive topic [asylum] and for its role as a neutral player and facilitator and noted the good reputation which EASO has been building in this field”.
Another source (timesofmalta.com) tells us what the PM said after the meeting when addressing the local press, giving us a better indication of what the meeting was really all about:
“[t]he Prime Minister said that while Malta was satisfied with the Commission’s efforts vis-a-vis migration, the government hoped to convince member states on the need for more concrete action”; “Dr Muscat said that the government was not satisfied with the way the EU, particularly certain member states, were dealing with solidarity in migration”.
|From Huffington Post.|
It seems that the Prime Minister also threatened to use Malta's veto power, if the EU MS failed to demonstrate more solidarity with Malta's plight in dealing with asylum-seekers and refugees. He also said that Malta is in favour of pushing back asylum-seekers, as long as the push-back was to a 'safe port'.
So many things we can say on this meeting, and what was discussed, but we'll leave most of it to our advocacy efforts with the Malta government.
What we can do, however, is remind the Maltese government that 'solidarity' and 'responsibility-sharing' also have a Malta component.
In practice we think this means that instead of trying to prevent asylum-seekers from accessing a safe and effective asylum procedure, and instead of dumping them onto other EU MS if they reach Malta (God forbid!), Malta should turn its attention inwards and:
- immediately clean up the terrible mess at the two detention centres currently in use;
- accept the several invitations sent by 8 NGOs to meet and initiate an assessment-based review of Malta's migration and asylum policies and practices;
- adopt less negative and unwelcoming discourse when talking about migrants and refugees.
Have a nice weekend!
|From The People's Voice.|