N. Mitarachi: "The new European Migration and Asylum Pact is not a precondition for action - We can deliver better results on external dimension, border protection and returns, already under the existing legal framework.”
The Minister for Migration and Asylum Mr. Notis Mitarachi, along with his counterparts Spain’s Mr. Fernando Grande Gomez, Malta’s Byron Camilleri, Italy’s Mrs. Luciana Lamorgese, and Cyprus’s. Mr. Nikos Nouri, attended the Ministerial Meeting of the 5 Mediterranean front line States - Med5 - held in Malaga on 24-25 September 2021.
At the discussions that took place during the second meeting of the MED5 group, after the first one held in Athens last March, the Ministers had the opportunity to discuss various issues related to migration in Europe and to further coordinate the strategy of the 5 countries regarding the crucial negotiation of the European Pact on Migration and Asylum.
At his speech, Mr Mitarachi pointed out that, ‘’our key priority is to tackle illegal migration and fight the smuggling networks. Challenges that we considerably faced as front line member States of the EU and that overburdened our migration and asylum systems -not only those of our five countries but of the EU as a whole.’’
The Minister for Migration and Asylum, stated that along with the Ministers of Spain, Italy, Cyprus and Malta, have set the main objectives on which the 5 countries must focus their actions:
- To prevent illegal arrivals through the support to and cooperation with origin and transit countries, especially the most vulnerable ones. Turkey is of course an important actor that needs our help but at the same time has to deliver on its own commitments towards the EU, including under the 2016 EU-Turkey Joint Statement.
- To continue the active and effective protection of the external borders of the EU, in full respect of international and EU law.
- To reinforce returns of illegal migrants and those not entitled of international protection, through a centralised European mechanism, and
- To achieve a fair and sustainable common European policy, resistant to any efforts of abuse of the asylum acquis and ensuring the necessary solidarity and participation of all MS in cases of migration pressure, without leaving the MS at the external borders, like our five countries, overexposed to disproportionate burden and responsibilities.
In this regard, the Minister for Migration and Asylum underlined that ‘’the Pact is not a precondition for action, since we can deliver better results on the three aspects of (a) external dimension, (b) border protection and (c) returns, already under the existing legal framework.’’
Regarding the recent events in Lithuanian borders and Afghanistan, Mr. Mitarachi empasized that they "emphasise the need for timely and concerted action on behalf of the EU for preventing mass illegal flows and a migratory crisis similar to that of 2015.’’
"The Ministers of the five Mediterranean front line countries, are determined to continue our joint effort for achieving a balanced and effective migration policy by promoting with unity and resolve our positions, concerns and priorities. The recent agreement on adopting at EU level the Regulation on the new European Asylum Agency, achieved thanks to the constructive attitude of our countries, has shown that we are ready to be flexible when needed in a spirit of compromise. We expect our European partners to demonstrate their readiness to reciprocate." Mr. Mitarachi reiterated.
The five Ministers agreed to institutionalize regular ministerial meetings of the Med-5 group every six months. The next Ministerial Meeting is scheduled to take place in Italy in March 2022.