Malta will not budge from its hard-line stance on migration unless the EU agrees on a migration pact, Prime Minister Robert Abela said in parliament on Wednesday.

“If we do not adopt this approach EU member states will not listen,” he said while winding up a debate on the conclusions of the recent European Council.

The Maltese government is insisting the country is "full-up" and cannot accept any more irregular migrants. 

The EU pact seeks to strike a deal on sensitive issues such as the integration and inclusion of migrants, the future of the Schengen area, a strategy on voluntary returns and an action plan against migrant smuggling.

In his statement, the prime minister insisted Malta was scoring successes in keeping arrivals low when compared to previous years. Abela warned that it would be a mistake if the EU engaged with African countries exclusively on migration and called for a holistic approach.

“The feedback received during our recent trip to Libya was not to engage on migration issues only, but to become trusted business partners.  There is huge potential in this respect,” the prime minister remarked.

COVID-19, Brexit

Opposition leader Bernard Grech took the prime minister to task over his approach in handling the pandemic. “What assurances have you given to EU leaders that Malta is doing its utmost to stop the spread of this virus?” Grech asked.

Grech also asked about Malta’s level of preparedness with respect to the UK’s exit from the EU on issues such as customs and border control.

In his reply, the prime minister lambasted Grech saying his criticism was a testament to the Opposition’s approach of trying to score political points.

“Despite all the criticism levelled at the government, we are yet to learn how the Opposition would have handled the pandemic differently,” he said.

On Brexit, the prime minister said Malta is preparing for all scenarios including the possibility of there being a no deal by the end of the year.

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