Malta has proposed that African countries free of conflict which do not accept travel documents issued to failed asylum seekers should lose EU development aid.

The proposal was made to the newly formed EU task force for the Mediterranean, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told Parliament last night as he answered questions from the Opposition after making a statement on the last EU summit.

Travel documents are issued by European countries to irregular migrants whose asylum applications are turned down, so that they can be repatriated.

Dr Muscat said EU border agency Frontex had failed in its remit to provide return flights to asylum seekers’ home countries.

Malta, he said, was proposing that the EU exert its diplomatic strength to oblige these countries to accept the travel documents if they are free of conflict.

He also said that Malta was ready to enter into a repatriation agreement with Libya but it could not do so because the EU had as yet not accepted that the situation in Libya was stable.

The majority of EU countries, he added, were supporting a proposal by the Maltese Ambassador to the EU, Marlene Bonnici, for illegal migration to top the agenda during an EU-Africa summit taking place next April.

On Friday, EU leaders agreed to ask the task force to draft a short- term plan of action on tackling migration by December, a conclusion hailed by the Government as a breakthrough but lambasted by the Opposition as a step backward for failing to mention Malta.

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