Malta will be hosting the next Summit of the Southern European Countries in June. This was agreed in a declaration signed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and leaders from Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain in Nicosia yesterday evening, when issues of mutual concern for the region, including migration, were discussed.
Dr Muscat said the summit gave an excellence and timely opportunity for the leaders present to not just debate but find long-term solutions. Despite the differences around the table, there was both a clear understanding and unified approach to all the issues discussed.
“On the issue of migration, frontline countries have always found solidarity, but everyone must follow the rules – member states, NGOs, everyone – if EU borders are to be effectively controlled and lives saved.” He said the next summit in Malta will give an opportunity to continue the work started.
All agreed that shared responsibility with those most affected by the current migration crisis, must underpin the EU’s migration policy, combined with effective reform of the Common European Asylum System. It was noted that some progress had been made due to the decrease in detected illegal border crossings but addressing the root causes of irregular migration by using all tools available at EU level is key.
Collaboration must also be intensified with partners outside of the EU, especially Africa, with an emphasis on economic development and stopping human trafficking networks. The importance of implementing the Joint Valletta Action Plan was also stressed, by replenishing the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, and coordinating support with the UNHCR and IOM.
Particular importance was attached to strengthening relations and cooperation between the EU and Arab world, which will be carried forward at the EU-League of Arab States Summit next month, which Dr Muscat will attend. The summit aims to coordinate efforts in security, migration, fighting terrorism, sustainable development, and climate change.
It was agreed that the Mediterranean region needed to be one of peace, stability, and prosperity, in the interest of Europe as a whole. Above all, the leaders present stated their countries’ commitment to the European project, and its common values, including the rule of law, freedom, democracy, and human rights.