Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said relying on the EU Pact on Migration is not enough in the fight against undocumented migration, and called on individual governments within the Med5 region to make use of their own legal frameworks for better results.
Speaking at the second Med5 conference in Malaga, Spain, at the weekend, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis urged fellow Med5 nations Spain, Italy, Malta and Cyprus to use internal methods to boost their border protection and returns.
"The new European Migration and Asylum Pact is not a precondition for action," he told journalists. "We can deliver better results on border protection and returns under the existing legal framework," he said.
During the second Med5 gathering of each nation's migration ministers (the first of which took place in Athens last spring), the five countries on the migration frontlines of Europe's borders discussed how to avoid any potential large-scale migration crises.
Mitarakis said the main priority is "control of undocumented migration and the fight against smuggling networks, which as the frontline countries in Europe, we strongly face."
He said it leads to an "excessive burden on migration and asylum systems not only in our countries, but in the whole of the EU."
Med5 sets several goals regarding undocumented migration
Mitarakis said the Med5 team set a number of goals, including the prevention of undocumented arrivals through support and cooperation with countries of origin and transit. He said Turkey is an important country that needs to be supported, but it must also meet its obligations in terms of, among other things, the 2016 Joint Declaration.
Another goal is the effective guarding of the EU's external borders, in full compliance with international and European law.
Another is increasing the returns and deportations of undocumented migrants and those not entitled to international protection, through a central European mechanism.
In addition, the Med5 team set the goal of achieving a fair and sustainable European common policy that will discourage the abuse of European asylum and ensure the required solidarity and participation of all member states in situations of migratory pressure, without leaving the states at the frontline borders, like the five Mediterranean countries, exposed to an excessive burden and disproportionate obligations.
Recent developments in Afghanistan and Lithuania
Referring to the recent developments in Afghanistan and Lithuania, Mitarakis said they demonstrate most clearly the need for "timely and joint decisive action by the EU" to prevent undocumented flows of people and a new migration crisis like the one that Europe experienced in 2015.
"The ministers of the five Mediterranean member states have pledged to continue our joint effort for a more balanced and effective migration policy, promoting our positions, priorities and concerns in a united and dynamic manner," said Mitarakis.
"The recent agreement on the adoption of the regulation on the new European Asylum Service, which was reached thanks to the constructive attitude of our countries, proved that we are ready to show a spirit of flexibility and a willingness to compromise. We expect our other European partners to prove that they are also ready to act accordingly."
The five ministers also agreed to institute regular Med5 meetings at the ministerial level every six months. The next meeting is scheduled to take place in Italy in March 2022.
Author: Graham Wood