An amendment tabled last Thursday in the European Parliament by the European United – Nordic Green Left (GUE / NGL), was intended to undermine the irregular immigration policy adopted by Malta during this unprecedented time, living as we are in a public health emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday 16 April, the European Parliament discussed and voted on a joint resolution on the European plan to minimise the negative impact on European economies, workers and industries brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of MEPs from the GUE / NGL group have been pushing for an amendment that was directly intended to attack the irregular immigration policy that Malta has adopted during this ongoing health emergency. Amendment 52 spoke of the obligation for rescue operations, both sea and land, to continue as normal and ports to be opened to NGO vessels and even to merchant vessels carrying immigrants trying to cross the Mediterranean and enter Europe.
In other words, if this amendment were to be approved, it would mean that during these difficult times, while our country is valiantly trying to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and our national resources are already stretched, as well as Italy closing its ports, Malta would have had to serve as the ONLY Mediterranean rescue centre, threatened by the onslaught of about one million irregular migrants who are currently ready on the Libyan coast to make the journey across the Med.
Thankfully, for Malta as the EU’s smallest state, the European Parliament has rejected amendment 52, by a vote of 301 in favour, 367 against and 20 abstentions (out of 688 voting members), meaning that the Maltese Government’s position has formally been approved by the same Parliament.
While the majority of the Maltese from both sides of the political divide lauds the Government’s position on illegal immigration during these trying times, it would be good to note that one of those 301 MEPs who voted in favour of amendment 52, effectively ignoring the additional hardships Malta would have to endure if it were to open its ports to an African exodus, was none other than MEP and PL’s rising star, Miriam Dalli. Dalli not only did not give a tinker’s damn as to the implications of her vote, during a time when Malta is doing its utmost to safeguard its resources and more importantly its vulnerable but her condoning of such an amendment showed a blatant disdain for the government’s position.
Meanwhile, PL MEPs Alfred Sant and Josianne Cutajar, chose to sit on the fence and abstained from the vote. Not an admirable nor a patriotic stance by any stretch of the imagination, especially at this turbulent point in time. It seems that for these PL MEPs it was preferable to support the Socialists and Democrats Group’s position, who were exceedingly in favour of this amendment than to safeguard their country’s interest. It is also interesting to note that only MEP Alex Agius Saliba from the PL side, along with PN MEPs David Casa and Roberta Metsola voted against amendment 52 and ultimately chose to vote in the interest of their country.