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25-09-2021 14:39

Common Statement MED5, Málaga, 24-25.09.21

The Ministers of Cyprus, Mr. Nouris; Greece, Mr. Mitarachi; Italy, Ms. Lamorgese; Malta, Mr. Camilleri; and Spain, Mr. Grande-Marlaska, on the occasion of their second Ministerial meeting in Málaga on 24-25 September, have concluded the following elements in relation to the internal and external dimensions of the European migration policy, in particular in the fight against irregular migration and human trafficking networks, as part of a holistic approach for an effective asylum and migration management:

- The MED5 countries, as Member States of the most exposed external border of the European Union, firmly believe that the work of the EU and its Member States in the fight against irregular migration must have prevention at source as a fundamental and priority axis, in order to stem flows upstream. The EU cannot afford to wait until migration flows reach the external borders. The EU needs to remain engaged in supporting host communities in their regions, addressing humanitarian crisis at their sources and enhancing the relevant capacities of countries of origin and transit, as well as creating the necessary hosting structures in and around those regions, as in the current volatile situation of Afghanistan.

- For the prevention of irregular migration to be effective, and given its structural nature, the Union's migration policy must be adequately funded, addressing in a proportionate manner all migratory routes to the EU, so that projects can be developed to strengthen the operational and institutional capacities both of the Member States and of the countries of origin and transit in the fight against irregular migration and trafficking in human beings. Member States should be able to rely on the support of the Commission and EU agencies, when requested, including through the provision of equipment.

EU processes should adjust in order to better cope with migratory issues, which are time sensitive in nature. The MED5 countries deem it necessary to establish as soon as possible a precise, prioritized and well defined roadmap of the EU Action plans on our key partners along each route, paying particular attention to those of them going through difficult political and social situations.

-In this sense, the Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument –NDICI- which should be the main financial instrument in our efforts to address irregular migration at its roots, must become operational as a matter of priority.

- A mismatch of more than a year between the NDICI and the Trust Fund has weakened the Union's capacity to work with its partners, countries of origin and transit, at a time of intense irregular migratory movements, motivated by the social and economic consequences of the pandemic, which have added to the pre-existing causes of irregular migration. Furthermore, our level of commitment cannot be lower than that of the past financial Framework, even more so if our ambitions and expectations have increased.

-  EU prevention action needs to be improved, as evidenced by the increased number of irregular arrivals to the Union through the borders of the MED5 countries, especially by sea. These arrivals, whether they are eligible for international protection or not, generate increasing secondary movements, overloading of asylum, reception and return systems and, above all, dramatic loss of human lives. We remain committed to the need to effectively control external borders, in line with our international obligations. We reiterate the need for a common European involvement in returns and an active role of EU agencies’ in the external dimension.

- The MED5 countries stress that SAR-related disembarkation does not imply a deficient control of external borders, but rather the fulfillment of international obligations. They should be considered as a true EU responsibility, envisaging specific rules for disembarked persons, other than the ones for illegal border crossings, in the European Pact on Migration and Asylum. These rules should start by adapting EURODAC to the singularities of rescue at sea.

The MED 5 countries recall the need, among other forms to develop the principle of fair share of responsibility and solidarity, for a predictable and mandatory relocation mechanism for those Member States that are faced with SAR-related disembarkation or other forms of disproportionate migratory pressure as a result of their geographical position.

- The realities faced by the States that are at the external border of the Union share common elements but, at the same time, present singularities. Recent border events at the frontiers with Belarus have reinforced the need for a common European policy, flexible enough to adapt border procedures, both on land and at sea, to the needs and particularities of each Member State under pressure and to the very dynamic nature of irregular migratory flows. Hence, our repeated calls that border procedures remain optional in nature. At the same time, those events have underlined the importance of relying on effective solidarity in response to the needs of the Member State concerned. The MED5 countries also emphasized that responsibility must be shared fairly, avoiding imposing an additional burden on Member States that already suffer excessive migratory pressure, while taking on the task of protecting the EU external borders.

-The EU ought to stand united and speak with one voice against the use of irregular migration for political purposes.

- The MED5 countries, traditionally affected by migratory pressure, show their solidarity and support to other Member States such as Lithuania, Poland and Latvia.

-The MED5 Ministers recall the related references contained in the Statement by the EU Ministers of Home Affairs in the meeting on 31 August, on the situation in Afghanistan.

- The Ministers of the five Mediterranean countries reaffirmed their willingness to continue to jointly defend their shared vision of migration and asylum policy, especially in the negotiations of the European Pact on Migration and Asylum, where it is essential to ensure the coherence and practical feasibility of all policy proposals.

- In this perspective, the MED5 countries look forward to the EU Home Affairs meeting on 8 October, also with regard to a timely assessment -in view of the European Council on 21-22 October- of the implementation of the European Council Conclusions of 24-25 June.