The Malta Independent reported yesterday that Frontex Director Ilkka Laitinen will visit Malta shortly “with a view to organising a Frontex mission that would be hosted by Malta but, [Justice and Home Affairs Minister] Dr Mifsud Bonnici stresses, not under the infamous guidelines that are being disputed [before the European Court of Justice] by Malta, Italy and the European Parliament.” Dr Mifsud Bonnici said “I have also made it a precondition that if we are to host this Frontex mission, it would not be under those guidelines and there is an agreement on that.”
Malta’s primary objection to the Frontex Sea Border Rule is likely due to provisions which require that intercepted migrants be taken to the country hosting the Frontex mission under certain circumstances. The relevant provision provides:
“2. Disembarkation- 2.1. The operational plan should spell out the modalities for the disembarkation of the persons intercepted or rescued, in accordance with international law and any applicable bilateral agreements. The operational plan shall not have the effect of imposing obligations on Member States not participating in the operation. Without prejudice to the responsibility of the Rescue Coordination Centre, and unless otherwise specified in the operational plan, priority should be given to disembarkation in the third country from where the ship carrying the persons departed or through the territorial waters or search and rescue region of which that ship transited and if this is not possible, priority should be given to disembarkation in the host Member State unless it is necessary to act otherwise to ensure the safety of these persons.”
Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has previously said that the Sea Border Rule guidelines can be negotiated by member states on a mission by mission basis and that before a mission starts participating member states can agree on different rules of engagement, which might include the sharing of responsibility where not all intercepted migrants would be brought to country hosting the mission.
Click here for Malta Independent article.
Click here for previous post regarding Malmström’s comments.