A European Parliament committee yesterday completely overlooked Malta’s plea to change the rules underpinning irregular migrant rescue operations coordinated by EU border control agency Frontex.

Despite proposed amendments by Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola, the Civil Liberties Committee decided to keep the draft text as it is: meaning all migrants rescued at sea during missions hosted by Malta would have to be taken to the island.

This is another blow to the island’s attempts to put political and diplomatic pressure on the EU to obtain more concrete help to control migration.

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In a statement today, Ms Metsola said:

"The negotiations are far from over. I am hopeful that because of the pressure I have placed in the European Parliament, the final text would still be one that would enable Malta to host Frontex operations.

"The next steps are that the text will now start to be negotiated with the European Commission and council and it will continue to be amended before coming back in front of MEPs.

"The ball is now in the Government's court to ensure that they back my arguments in Council and push Malta's position forward - as I will continue to do, through the European Parliament.

"Once these negotiations are over, and we have a final text in front of us, we can then take a final decision," she said.



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