A pilot ‘burden sharing’ project tailor made for Malta’s needs to tackle the problem of illegal immigration was announced by EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot during an EU meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers held in Luxembourg on Thursday. The pilot intra-community voluntary relocation programme for Malta is the first of its kind.
The programme should be up and running this summer and would provide the opportunity for refugees and other beneficiaries of international protection currently in Malta to move and resettle in other EU member states, The Times said. The EU programme will be modelled on a similar programme currently operated between Malta and the US.
On the other hand, Italy, which has faced sharp criticism for pushing back asylum seekers, said on Thursday that the European Union should have a system obliging member states to share the burden by taking in migrants. Northern member states of the European Union have been reluctant to meet such calls from southern members like Italy and Malta, where most asylum seekers arrive from Africa, arguing that they are already overburdened.
Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said before a meeting with EU counterparts in Luxembourg that recent proposals from the executive European Commission on asylum were “interesting, but … not sufficient.” “We asked for obligatory burden sharing, the proposal foresees a voluntary system — so those who don’t want to needn’t take in any refugees,” he told reporters.
In a Financial Times interview published on Thursday, Malta’s Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi called the Commission proposals a step forward, but expressed disappointment that fellow EU states had not agreed to take on asylum seekers.
Maroni said Libya, to where Italy has returned migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean, had given him concrete requests for help from Europe to fight illegal immigration and he would pass these to EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot.
Sources: The Times of Malta; Reuters; Financial Times
- No EU consensus on burden sharing
by MaltaMedia News -24 February 2011
- Northern EU countries lukewarm on burden sharing
by MaltaMedia News -25 August 2009
- EU states urged to share burden of illegal immigrants
by MaltaMedia News -17 July 2009
- UK to take part in Pilot Project to resettle migrants from Malta
by MaltaMedia News -18 November 2009
- Illegal immigrants burden sharing scheme soon
by MaltaMedia News -26 July 2009