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Minister Michael Farrugia attends the Defence Ministers Council Meeting

Reference Number: PR192446, Press Release Issue Date: Nov 13, 2019

Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Michael Farrugia participated in the meeting of EU Ministers of Defence held in Brussels on the 12th November 2019. During the meeting, EU defence ministers agreed on new projects under Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). The ministers also held discussions on the EU’s military crisis management missions and operations, and on the European Defence Agency (EDA) steering board. Over lunch, the ministers held talks on the further developing of EU-NATO cooperation in the presence of NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana. The defence meeting was chaired by High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Minister Michael Farrugia stated that the EU’s work in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa is concretely seen through the presence of its missions on the ground. Malta believes that these missions are an important tool in bringing stability and security to the local population through the reform of the local security forces. Malta ​participates in both naval operations and fully supports their value-added.

“Malta continues to stress that the migration flows are not just an issue for the southernmost EU member states, but a European challenge, and that this matter should be tackled in the same way that the EU deals with challenges on its other borders, and with the same resolve. Malta will continue to contribute to discussions at all levels to address these challenges and for a determined EU effort on this front. As an island, maritime security has always been among Malta’s prime considerations in dealing with general law enforcement issues because of the risks for our main economic activities, such as fisheries, merchant shipping, tourism and other commercial maritime operations. Malta agrees that rapid and determined action is needed to counter security risks such as illegal immigration, piracy, illegal fishing and other illegal activities and that sharing information among relevant stakeholders is important to reach this goal.  In this context, Malta considers the concept of the Coordinated Maritime Presence as providing further input towards improving the tools already in place within the EU in this area, notably the EU Maritime Security Strategy and its action plan”, stated the minister.

Minister Michael Farrugia pointed out that Malta already participates in EU actions in the ambit of FRONTEX and shares information within that forum with the aim to create a situational picture of the operational area in order to detect, prevent and combat illegal immigration and cross-border crime. Malta also participates in various operations to identify possible threats and disrupt smuggling networks, such as the EUNAVFOR MED SOPHIA and EUNAVFOR ATALANTA.

During the session on the EDA Ministerial Steering Board meeting, Minister Farrugia maintained that Malta considers the European Defence Agency as one of the key entities for taking forward the EU’s defence priorities and for ensuring EU-wide coherence in the area of military capabilities. Malta supports the roles assigned to the EDA in collaboration with the European External Action Service (EEAS).

The minister stated that two of the EU’s central issues remain maritime security and irregular migration flows. Development of military capabilities that can successfully deal with these two important challenges would be of significant value added. Malta encourages the agency to consider further steps in these areas so that its output can be more meaningful in the eyes of EU public opinion, and in order to improve the quality of life of EU citizens, concluded Minister Farrugia.