Malta has “no more space” to receive migrants, PM tells EU’s Michel

Malta is at its full capacity and cannot take in any more migrants, Prime Minister Robert Abela told Charles Michel, President of the European Council, during a meeting in Valletta on Wednesday.

“We are full to the brim. We have no more space to receive any more migrants on this island,” Abela said, stressing that Malta was receiving very little help from other European Union (EU) member states in terms of relocation of migrants.

Abela argued that allocating EU funds to Malta to accommodate more migrants was no solution, insisting that there should be burden-sharing.

He said that there should be a permanent mechanism through which asylum seekers could be relocated from EU’s frontline member states.

He lamented that in the absence of proper mechanisms, each case was dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Referring to the latest standoff involving the fuel tanker Maersk Etienne with 27 migrants aboard, Abela said that if each EU member state had accepted to take one migrant, the issued would have been resolved earlier.

The migrants, who were rescued on Aug. 5, have been denied disembarkation in both Italy and Malta.

Michel, who is on a two-day visit to the smallest EU member state, acknowledged the difficulties Malta was facing in dealing with the challenge posed by migration and admitted that more needed to be done on this aspect.

He spoke about three priorities which he hoped to be discussed by member states, including better resources for border control, cooperation with transit and source countries, and better asylum mechanisms.

He said that it was perhaps opportune to start tailoring support for the specific realities of frontline member states.