The EU’s most senior diplomat on Tuesday said he and his team at the European Commission had been holding “almost daily” talks with the Maltese government over the migration crisis.
During a visit to Malta, Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told reporters that he wanted to help find a permanent and automatic solution to migrant redistribution.
Borrell was addressing a press conference alongside Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo, and said that over the past few weeks he and his team had been in regular contact with the Maltese government to help redistribute migrants leaving the coast of Libya.
“We share Malta’s determination to resolve the problem of irregular migration flows and the situation in Libya,” Borrell said.
He added that “as the most densely populated country in Europe”, he understood that Malta needed help to manage the influx of migrants from Africa.
The solution, he said, was an automatic relocation mechanism, which the European Commission was working on.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Robert Abela had pointedly noted that Malta received more help from Libya than from its EU partners over the past months when it came to migration.
Asked by Times of Malta about the government’s hardline position to freeze migrant disembarkations and to block funding for an EU mission off the Libyan coast, Operation Irini, Borrell said that as a diplomat he was used to member states using one decision to try and influence another.
He, however, encouraged member states - including Malta - to tackle issues independently from one another.
On his part, Bartolo told the press that Malta believes the only solution to the migration problem, rests in Libya.
“We need a unified Libya, governed by the people of Libya,” he said, a position ostensibly shared by a nodding Borrell.
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