EU states urged to show solidarity
By Matthew Xuereb
The Times of Malta, October 6, 2009
Malta is not alone when it deals with the problems of illegal migration and other EU member states should show solidarity in practice, not just in theory, according to French MP Philippe Cochet.
Mr Cochet said France led the way in applying the principle of solidarity, showing Malta and other member states it was leading by example. France took 92 migrants from Malta last July and promised to take another 100 next year, but did not want to be alone in doing so.
Other member states had to extend their support to a small country like Malta which was facing a 'huge problem' in dealing with influx after influx of illegal migrants, he said.
During a presentation to EU Justice Ministers a fortnight ago, EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot said that out of the 26 member states invited to take part in a pilot resettlement project for Malta last July, only six – France, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Luxembourg and Lithuania – replied favourably. He urged other member states to follow their example as this was 'a test of their solidarity'. The EU is offering member states 4,000 for every migrant resettled.
Malta is hoping to be able to resettle the majority of its refugees through this project. This will only happen if every member state pledges to take an average of 80 refugees each.
There is no one fixed solution. The problem is a European one and has to be dealt with on a European level, stressed Mr Cochet, who sits on the French Parliament's External Affairs Commission.
'Malta has to be helped. France is happy to offer this help and show other member states we are doing our part. Many did not yet realise the extent of the migration problem in Malta and leaving the situation like this is not an option. The problem will only get worse if we don't act quickly,' he said.
Mr Cochet was in Malta last week to see the situation faced by the island. He visited the Marsa open centre, the Lyster detention centre, and held talks with the Armed Forces of Malta and Home Affairs Ministry representatives.