"Solving refugee crisis cannot come at expense of Africa's long-term development" says Gianni Pittella
S&D Group president Gianni Pittella today met with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to discuss the upcoming Valletta summit of European and African Heads of State and Government. The meeting took place during a visit by an S&D delegation to Malta, in which MEPs met with Maltese leaders and NGOs, and visited a refugee camp. Alongside Mr Pittella, the S&D delegation was made up of vice-president Enrique Guerrero Salom MEP, vice-president Tanja Fajon MEP, Demetris Papadakis MEP, Alfred Sant MEP, Miriam Dalli MEP, and Marlene Mizzi MEP.
Speaking about the upcoming summit, president Pittella said:
"This is a crucial summit! This is the moment to set up a real and structured dialogue and to demonstrate that the EU and Africa share a common desire to co-operate on migration. However the need to find a rapid solution to the refugee crisis cannot come at the expense of our long-term commitments to Africa. We must not set new conditions on the use of the development aid, because it is not a bargaining chip for stronger border control or enhanced returns agreements.
"The EU cannot afford another failure or waste time. The EU cannot limit itself to building walls around its borders or risk messing up objectives aimed at stabilising countries through development co-operation. Africa is not the EU's waste ground! And we risk losing badly if we do not become aware of this! We must now make these meetings with African leaders a regular occurrence."
Alfred Sant MEP, head of the Maltese delegation in the S&D Group, added:
"It is symbolic that this week's summit is in Malta, which has for been centuries the gateway between Europe and Africa. This position has been clear in the last few years with a surge in the number of refugees arriving from the North African coast on their way to mainland Europe.
"No country or continent can tackle the challenges of migration alone. A European solution focused only on building walls or forced deportations is not the answer. We need create a strategic partnership between our two continents that allows us to better fight human traffickers, creates routes for safe, legal migration and also addresses the primary causes of the refugee crisis – poverty and conflict."