No wall can stop the migration phenomenon, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said this morning as he called this “an ugly period” for Europe.
He was alluding to the four-metre-high fence erected by Hungary along its border with Serbia in a bid to stop thousands of migrants entering the country.
Dr Muscat was speaking at the Labour Party club in Sliema ahead of a crunch EU emergency summit this week that will address the issue of migration.
Hungary has taken a hard line stand and on Tuesday new laws are expected to come into force that will allow police to arrest migrants who enter the country illegally.
“No country on its own can solve this problem. No wall will stop this phenomenon but it will simply lead to a shift in migration flows,” Dr Muscat said.
Describing the current situation as an “ugly period” for Europe, Dr Muscat said the EU was weak in dealing with the migration phenomenon.
“Europe needs a new system to deal with this historical phenomenon and there are no short term solutions,” he said.
Dr Muscat stressed that a free-for-all was not acceptable but migrants in need of protection had to be given refuge.
He said Malta would do its fair share and under current proposals will take in 75 migrants from Italy and Greece. The European Commission has proposed a migrant sharing mechanism but after recent developments, has indicated the numbers may have to increase.
“Discussions ahead may mean we have to take more and if that is the case we will take more,” he said, adding Malta had to be at the forefront of solidarity even though it had been shielded from an influx over the past two years.
“We do not have a crisis but this can change overnight, dramatically... the easiest thing for us to do is to sweep the problem under the carpet because it does not concern us but it is also our responsibility as a focal point of inspiration in the Mediterranean,” he said.
'Migrant abuse at Marsa has to stop'
Shifting the focus on the “third world scene” at the Marsa roundabout, he insisted this had to end.
He said government was evaluating options to put a stop to the phenomenon of illegal employment and abuse of migrants that happened on a daily basis at Marsa.
“Is it time to ensure employers who want to engage migrants on a temporary basis do so by applying? Is it time to ensure migrants are paid the minimum wage? They are vulnerable workers and we have to defend them and in this way we will also be defending Maltese workers from exploitation by employers.”