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Schengen: Malta reintroducing border controls for high-level political summits on migration in February
23.1.17
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The government of Malta is reintroducing controls at the country's air and sea borders between 21 January and 9 February, to "ensure internal security is maintained" for two high-level political summits focusing on migration that will be hosted by Malta as part of its Presidency of the Council of the EU.

See: NOTE from: Maltese Delegation to: Working Party on Frontiers/Mixed Committee, Reintroduction of temporary border controls at the Maltese air and sea borders in accordance with Articles 25 and 27 of Regulation (EU) 2016/399 on a Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) (20 January 2017, 5206/17, unclassified, pdf)

The temporary border controls were announced in a letter sent by the Maltese government to the Secretary-General of the Council of the EU on 18 January, which cites the need to ensure security for the Malta Informal Summit and the Joint Valletta Action Plan Senior Officials Meeting.

The Malta Informal Summit - known formally as the 'Informal meeting of EU heads of state or government' - will be held on 3 February (Council of the EU, link) and focus on "the external dimension of migration", in particular "the Central Mediterranean Route" and Libya. The meeting will also see a "reflection on the future of the EU" as the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome approaches.

The second high-level meeting over which Maltese officials have security concerns is the 'Joint Valletta Action Plan Senior Officials Meeting', to be held on 8-9 February at the Westin Dragonara Resort (Malta EU 2017, link).

This is presumably the "dedicated Senior Officials Meeting to be held no later than January 2017" that was called for in the final Action Plan of the November 2015 Valletta Summit (pdf) on migration from Africa to Europe.

Maltese officials have made numerous statements on migration recently: a "non-paper" was presented to other EU states on the possibility of joint patrols with Libyan forces in order to intercept and return migrants to Libya (Malta Today, link); and the Maltese Prime Minister has said (Reuters, link) that the EU needs a Turkey-style deal with Libya to "break the business model of the criminal gangs making millions of euros out of this inhumane business."

The Maltese interior minister has said (Times of Malta, link) that migration is going to be a crucial issue during the country's Presidency of the Council and that he is "optimistic that, if we [EU Member States] really want to, we can reach a consensus on a common, effective and equitable way forward."

Further information

2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union Priorities (pdf)

Background

Migration: discussions on the "Central Mediterranean Route", EU Travel Information and Authorisation System: Visa Code negotiations (May 2016)

EU refugee crisis: Valletta Conference 11-12 November 2015 Update: Final texts and full documentation (November 2015)

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