The seasons are changing. As the weather gets better, Europe’s migration crisis gets worse. In a year of critical elections, Malta brings its frontline Mediterranean experience to the leadership of the presidency of the European Union and it must match humanitarian obligations with political reality. Stormy seas lie ahead.
The Presidency is a video series by EURACTIV looking at the priorities of the Council Presidency. In this report, Brian Maguire takes an in-depth look at the migration crisis.
With several crucial migration initiatives already in place, the Maltese presidency is focused on implementation. But Malta has already tasked the European Commission with finding new ways to send migrants back and is actively considering the possibility of humanitarian camps in North Africa as a means to more effectively manage migration flows.
The controversial Turkey and Libya migrant deals are symptomatic of the formidable complexities facing the EU. Its presidency must find a way to credibly improve the migration situation, while respecting international law and Europe’s human rights obligations.
Strengthening and streamlining the Common European Asylum System is a migration priority for Malta; it’s viewed as critical to ensuring a fair distribution of the migration load among member states.
Attempts to revise the Dublin Regulation, which sets out member state responsibilities for examining asylum applications, is an intrinsic but highly politicised part of the Presidency’s migration puzzle.
Deep sensitivities surround the relocation of 160,000 people in clear need of international protection from the EU’s members and solidarity has been missing in action.
In an attempt to better coordinate Europe’s migration response, Malta is assisting the transformation of the European Asylum Support Office into a fully-fledged European agency.
Malta is advancing a holistic migration approach, incorporating internal and external EU dynamics. The big picture success of Europe’s migration strategy will depend on implementation of the Valletta Summit migration agreement, and Europe’s partnership with African nations.