‘EU states must share immigration burden’
EU member states should be “forced” to help Malta and other southern member states in sharing the burden of irregular immigration from North Africa, particularly from Libya, according to a recent report.
The report was submitted by Nationalist MEP David Casa to the EU-ACP joint parliamentary assembly meeting in Denmark this week.
The assembly brings together MEP and MPs from 78 developing countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific and meets twice a year.
Acting as rapporteur on the impact of the recent Libyan conflict, Mr Casa underlined the need that EU member states act together to fight illegal immigration and not leave frontier countries like Malta battle it all alone.
“Migration flows resulting from the conflict are very burdensome on peripheral member states,” he said.
“Libya acts as a transit, host, as well as departure country for migrants coming in and out of the country, and effective border management must be a priority.
“It is undeniable that Malta is not able to withstand large influxes of migrants and EU member states must shoulder their responsibility in sharing this burden.”
In his report, Mr Casa called for “the formalisation of a system of ‘compulsory and irrevocable solidarity’ with member states exposed to specific and disproportionate pressures in the form of intra-EU relocation, together with greater cooperation with Libya”.
A request for compulsory burden sharing is a hotly debated matter in the EU. Apart from being impossible to achieve under present EU treaties, Brussels has no competence to force any member state to relocate immigrants or asylum seekers.
Many European countries also vehemently oppose the concept of burden sharing, even on a voluntary basis, arguing this would act as a “pull-factor” for more irregular immigrants to cross over to Europe.
The reluctance of many countries was quite evident when the European Commission set up its first intra-EU relocation pilot project specifically designed for Malta.
Despite the fact that the Commission offered handsome amounts of money for every Maltese protected migrant relocated to other member states, few EU countries took up the offer.
EU member states, particularly the northern ones, have also resisted similar initiatives to suspend the rules of asylum for those countries facing sudden influxes.
After a period of relative calm, the issue of irregular immigration in Malta is once again becoming a hot topic, as hundreds of migrants landed on the islands’ shores over the past days.