Trio meet in Malta

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Ju­lian Bon­nici

The EU Pres­i­dency Trio (2016 to mid-2017 – Slo­vakia, Malta and the Nether­lands) yes­ter­day held talks in or­der to pro­duce a fo­cus which would ex­am­ine how the EU could work on a num­ber of is­sues namely mi­gra­tion and Brexit.

Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat yes­ter­day said that EU mem­ber states are still a long way from find­ing com­mon ground on the is­sue of il­le­gal mi­gra­tion, but wel­comed the open­ing of dis­cus­sion on the is­sue.

Ad­dress­ing a press con­fer­ence with the Dutch Prime Min­is­ter Mark Rutte and Slo­vakian Prime Min­is­ter Robert Fico, Dr Mus­cat said that coun­tries should share the im­mi­gra­tion bur­den.

At the press con­fer­ence, Mr Fico an­nounced plans to un­veil a pro­posal which will put for­ward an al­ter­na­tive aimed to unite the EU on this di­vi­sive is­sue. He then said that Europe is cur­rently not po­lit­i­cally ready to al­low bur­den shar­ing and unchecked en­trances in mul­ti­ple mem­ber states.

A cou­ple of weeks ago, Slo­vakian Prime Min­is­ter and cur­rent EU pres­i­dency holder Robert Fico said that the pro­posed EU fair­ness mech­a­nism, which will see 160,000 mi­grants dis­trib­uted across the EU ac­cord­ing to a quota, was a “po­lit­i­cally dead is­sue”.

Dr Mus­cat along with Mr Rutte both main­tained that coun­tries “should share the bur­den” of mi­gra­tion in ac­cor­dance with the EU prin­ci­ple of sol­i­dar­ity amongst mem­ber states.

The Mal­tese Prime Min­is­ter also said that the fact that the re­cent deaths of mi­grants off the coast of Libya were not given that much im­por­tance showed that the world has un­for­tu­nately be­come numb to the sit­u­a­tion.

Both men praised Mr Fico for try­ing to break the dead­lock and find com­mon ground be­tween the op­pos­ing sides on this de­bate. Dr Mus­cat said that the Slo­vakian Prime Min­is­ter was “brave” in at­tempt­ing to tackle the is­sue, adding that he showed a lot of po­lit­i­cal will in not ac­cept­ing the cur­rent sta­tus quo, in­sist­ing that “do­ing noth­ing is not an op­tion”.

The EU Pres­i­dency Trio (2016 to mid-2017) held talks in or­der to pro­duce a fo­cus and slim which would ex­am­ine how the EU could work on a num­ber of is­sues namely mi­gra­tion and Brexit. All men said the talks were pro­gres­sive and al­lowed for open and frank dis­course.

Dr Mus­cat said that the meet­ing pro­duced fo­cused and slim pro­grams which would ex­am­ine how the EU could work to­gether on the is­sues, go­ing as far to say that the mem­ber states ac­tu­ally have a lot of com­mon ground on the is­sues.

On the 18-month agenda pro­duced by the three mem­ber states which gave pri­or­ity to mi­gra­tion, jobs, growth, en­ergy and se­cu­rity, Mr Rutte said that they are cur­rently pleased on what they have achieved so far, point­ing to­wards the in­tro­duc­tion of an EU Bor­der and Coast guard set to be op­er­a­tional by the end of Malta’s Pres­i­dency in 2017. He did how­ever in­sist that a lot more work ended to be done.

With re­gards to Brexit and the re­cent UK high court rul­ing say­ing that Ar­ti­cle 50 can only be ac­ti­vated through ap­proval by the Bri­tish par­lia­ment, Dr Mus­cat said that it was ul­ti­mately a sov­er­eign de­ci­sion made by sov­er­eign state and that the EU would not be get­ting in­volved in any way in its ac­ti­va­tion.

He went on to say that all EU mem­ber states have an un­equiv­o­cal stance that the foun­da­tion of the sin­gle mar­ket and the free move­ment of peo­ple would not be de­cou­pled.

Dr Mus­cat stressed that the EU had a clear vi­sion when it came to tack­ling the is­sue, in­sist­ing that the EU’s po­si­tion would not be anti-Bri­tish but will solely look after Euro­pean in­ter­ests.

On the pro­posal for an in­tro­duc­tion of a Euro­pean con­sol­i­dated tax, Dr Mus­cat said that whilst more trans­parency and uni­for­mity was needed in mem­ber states’ tax laws, “a one size fits all” con­cept on tax would not suit Malta’s needs, and the Mal­tese govern­ment would not ap­prove any such pro­posal.

The Mal­tese Prime Min­is­ter also said that the fact that the re­cent deaths of mi­grants off the coast of Libya were not given that much im­por­tance showed that the world has un­for­tu­nately be­come numb to the sit­u­a­tion.

Photo: Jonathan Borg

Photo: Jonathan Borg

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