Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech receives handover from Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU - EU monitor

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Source: Maltese presidency of the EU (Maltese presidency) i, published on Tuesday, December 13 2016.

13.12.2016

Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech i receives handover from Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU i

The Deputy Prime

Minister today received

the ‘bell’ from his Slovak

counterpart, Minister

Miroslav Lajčák, which symbolises the transition of the Chairing of the General Affairs Council from Slovakia to Malta

The Deputy Prime Minister today received the ‘bell’ from his Slovak counterpart, Minister Miroslav Lajčák, which symbolises the transition of the Chairing of the General Affairs Council from Slovakia to Malta.

During the discussion on the preparation for the European Council, the Deputy Prime Minister stressed the importance of maintaining momentum with regards to a holistic approach to managing migration. He noted that the external approach is very positive and builds on the architecture which was initiated during the Valletta Summit on Migration. In this regard, he noted that in the short term, the Maltese Presidency will continue to work with the European Parliament to reach an agreement on the External Investment Plan, a financial instrument which will target the socio-economic development in countries of origin. He added that for the longer term one should also consider a comprehensive aid programme - similar to the Marshall Aid model - to address the root causes in countries of origin and transit.

The Deputy Prime Minister also highlighted the importance of the new Migration Partnership Frameworks with key partners in Africa as another example of external action being taken by the EU. He expressed Malta’s support for these initiatives and also noted the need for continued specific engagement with Egypt and Libya in order to address the Central Mediterranean migration routes.

On the internal dimension Mr Grech called for an effective and tangible solidarity package and highlighted the importance of continuing to work on the reform of the Common European Asylum System - another priority of the Maltese Presidency.

Speaking about Security, the Deputy Prime Minister stressed that this is very much a concern of European citizens and added that the Maltese Presidency has placed security and the fight against terrorism as one of its six priorities.

The Deputy Prime Minister stressed the need to deliver a Single Market for citizens. Momentum is needed to make tangible progress on services, energy, capital markets union and the digital single market.

During the meeting, ministers also discussed EU enlargement, with a

focus on Turkey. The Deputy Prime Minister noted that the situation in the country is delicate and that it is important for the EU to maintain open dialogue with the country, within the existing framework and using all instruments.

At the end of the meeting the Deputy Prime Minister thanked his Trio colleagues for the excellent work and for the co-operation extended to Malta during the last years. The next General Affairs Council will be an informal one and will take place in Malta on 23-24 January, 2017.

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