European Affairs Minister at GAC

The success of the reform of the Dublin Regulation on Migration is contingent on finding the right balance between Member States’ responsibilities and solidarity. This should be part of a comprehensive agreement incorporating all elements of the legislative package on the asylum system reform.

These were the opening remarks of Minister for European Affairs and Equality Edward Zammit Lewis while addressing the General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels. In this context, the Minister also reiterated the need for a mandatory relocation mechanism to avoid the necessity of reaching unsustainable ad hoc solutions for the relocation of migrants.

The General Affairs Council also discussed the status of negotiations on the EU’s budget for the next seven years, along with the strengthening of the rule of law.

Regarding the Multiannual Financial Framework; which determines the EU’s budget for 2021-2027; Minister Zammit Lewis stressed the importance of reaching a fair deal which respects the different specificities of member states and which consolidates Malta’s socio-economic progress.

On the Commission’s communication on rule of law in the EU, Minister Zammit Lewis said that Malta welcomes the European Commission’s proposals, particularly the proposed Periodic-Peer Review Mechanism. The minister held that such a mechanism would contribute to a sustained rule-of-law culture within the EU. Nevertheless, Dr Zammit Lewis warned that the effectiveness of such a mechanism hinged upon its impartiality, objectivity, an evidence-based approach and an equal treatment amongst all Member States.

In Brussels, Dr Zammit Lewis also had several informal meetings with his counterparts. Accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia, the Minister also met the European Commissioner for the EU Budget and Human Resources, Gunther Oettinger, wherein all parties agreed on the importance of respecting MFF deadlines.

The Minister for European Affairs and Equality later paid a visit to the Permanent Representation of Malta to the EU, where he urged all employees to continue to protect Malta’s best interests in a professional and dignified manner. This is particularly important within the context of the upcoming challenges and the changes brought about by the new institutional cycle. In this regard, Dr Zammit Lewis reiterated his pledge to strengthen Malta House by endowing the Permanent Representation with the right resources to achieve the best results for Malta while defending our position within the respective EU institutions.

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