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NO. 1024        DOI – 05.07.2007

Franco Frattini, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner responsible for Justice and Home Affairs this morning paid a courtesy call on the Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Frendo.

Commissioner Frattini informed Minister Frendo about his visit earlier in the morning on one of the patrol boats being used in the Nautilus II mission. Frattini described this initiative as a concrete example of European cooperation which was also producing positive results as illustrated by the decrease in arrivals of illegal immigrants since the mission started.

The Vice President of the Commission said that migration will be a top priority during the Portuguese Presidency, particularly, in view of the Euromed Ministerial Meeting on Migration which shall take place in November.

Minister Frendo expressed his gratitude for Commissioner Frattini’s engagement in a bid to address Malta’s concerns. He also asked for greater assistance by the Commission in engaging EU Member States and the Commission with respect to burden sharing measures such as the intra-EU resettlement of refugees and migrants benefiting from humanitarian protection. Minister Frendo insisted that such resettlement could take place within the quotas already allocated to the respective Member States.

The Foreign Minister reiterated that Malta should not be expected to face the problem of illegal immigration by itself, particularly, with respect to migrants rescued outside its Search and Rescue Area. Both sides agreed that further engagement and cooperation with Libya was essential.

Minister Frendo said that the fight against illegal immigration is also a fight against international organized crime. There are criminals who are taking a thousand dollars or more from people who are seeking a better future and these criminal organizations are making a lot of money by taking advantage from the frustrations of the immigrants.

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