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Macron and Meloni arrive in Castile, Med9 summit underway

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Mediterranean leaders are in Valletta this afternoon to negotiate a common position on key European issues for the coming months.

Italy’s Giorgia Meloni and France’s Emmanuel Macron arrived in Valletta on Friday afternoon to launch working sessions in which Mediterranean leaders will discuss migration, Ukraine and other issues.

Macron and Meloni are expected to have a bilateral discussion on the sidelines of the summit, mediated by Prime Minister Robert Abela and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa made a press statement ahead of the summit, saying Friday’s meeting will help Mediterranean countries prepare for the EU Council meeting in Grenada on October 6.

He said that migration is one of the big problems facing the European Union and that it will need to be addressed with more solidarity and responsibility within the Union.

Malta also held its own bilateral meeting with Croatia on Thursday evening. Abela met his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenkovic for an hour-long meeting, with Malta offering assistance with Croatia’s recent gray listing by the FATF.

Med9 is a high-level summit composed of nine member states from the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. These are Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus and Malta.

This is the second summit held in Malta, but the first to bring together all nine Member States.

At the end of the summit, the heads of state of each country will make a statement to the press in Mdina Cathedral Square. A joint statement will also be drafted and shared with the press after a series of working sessions between member states.

What does the joint declaration contain?

The joint statement is expected to be released later today if all member states agree with the wording and spirit of the statement.

The first paragraph will focus on political affairs in the southern Mediterranean. This paragraph should include a paragraph on relations between Cyprus and Turkey, but this part seems to be a sore point on the Cypriot side.

The second paragraph will deal with Ukraine and the third will outline the Mediterranean’s expectations in terms of irregular migration.

Climate change will also feature in the joint statement, with the Mediterranean the region worst hit this year by deadly floods and wildfires.

Other aspects, including energy, social skills, the EU budget, reform and the single market, are expected to be addressed in the joint declaration.

Med9 meeting dominated by migration

The first working session of the summit, which will be held behind closed doors, is expected to be dominated by migration.

The summit itself follows a council meeting between EU interior ministers to negotiate a compromise on the crisis management of the EU migration package.

This settlement had been blocked by the German government, but Interior Minister Nancy Faeser finally revealed that she would vote in favor of the agreement.

Furthermore, Meloni and Macron held talks Tuesday after the funeral of former President Giorgio Napolitano to exchange views on the need for a European solution to migration.

Two weeks ago, Lampedusa was overwhelmed by the arrival of thousands of people on its shores in the space of six days. Von der Leyen and Meloni visited a migrant reception center on the island and pledged support for the island, with von der Leyen insisting on a European solution to the migration challenge.

However, France insisted that it will not take no migrants from Lampedusa and decided to close its border with Italy by strengthening border patrols and monitoring the Alps for any crossings.

But in a television interview last Sunday, Macron said France “cannot leave the Italians alone”, a comment welcomed by Meloni.

Meanwhile, two days before the Med9 summit, Meloni wrote to Med9 states to insist on a common approach to the migration issue. The letter too would have refers to the EU-Tunisia Memorandum of Understanding, which combines anti-migration proposals with financial and economic support.

The agreement with Tunisia was judged controversial by human rights groups, but should serve as a model for future EU efforts to combat migration and human trafficking in neighboring countries.

Ukraine: sanctions and frozen assets

The war in Ukraine is also expected to be on the summit’s agenda, with discussions focused on sanctions, the use of frozen Russian assets and capping Russian oil and gas prices.

A considerable part of Russian assets, frozen by sanctions, remain unused in Europe, as well as in Japan and the United States. Now countries are trying to determine how these assets can be used to help rebuild Ukraine.

THE US special envoy for Ukraine’s recoverywho was meeting with EU top brass this week, told reporters on Wednesday that Russians “should contribute to Ukraine’s recovery” through the West’s asset freeze.

Expansion and reform

Another sensitive subject, on which Med9 will try to form an opinion today, is the reform of the EU to pave the way for enlargement.

Earlier this month, France and Germany ordered a expert report on structural reforms that can prepare the EU to welcome new member countries by 2030.

The report proposes radical reforms that include reducing the number of commissioners and MEPs and adopting majority voting in the European Council.

Enlargement was put on the EU’s priority list after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war-torn country applied for EU membership shortly after the invasion and was granted EU candidate status in June 2022.

Besides Ukraine, seven other countries are candidates for EU membership. These are Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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