We will meet on Friday in Malta for an important informal meeting, hosted by Joseph.
We will first look at the external aspects of migration. This is very much part of the comprehensive strategy we have been developing over the past two years. After having stabilised the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, our focus will this time be on operational measures to address the challenge of the massive flows of irregular migrants in the Central Mediterranean region. Flows are at a record level, too many people die while trying to reach Europe, and spring is approaching fast. We will continue our long term action with African partners through the Partnership framework and the Valletta Action Plan. But the situation on the ground requires immediate and urgent action, with and around Libya, where the vast majority of irregular migrants depart from. Efforts to stabilise Libya are now more important than ever. But we must at the same time protect our external border while helping the Libyan authorities provide decent reception facilities on their territory. The situation there is different and even more complex that in the east, and we have to be innovative while drawing on the principles that have guided our action over the past months. We will at the end of our discussion adopt an ambitious declaration setting out the way ahead in a clear and concrete way.
We will break at the end of the morning for a family photo outside, and will then move to our lunch venue, across the bay. Over lunch, we will have the opportunity to freely exchange views on other international challenges and the international situation. We will also talk briefly about the follow up and implementation of the conclusions we adopt after European Council meetings and about ways to better communicate about our action.
After lunch, we will meet the press and hold our respective press conferences.
After the press conference we will reconvene in the Grandmaster’s Palace at 27 to discuss preparations for Rome, where Paolo will host us on 25 March for the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. You have received a short concept paper prepared together with Italy that will serve as a basis for an open discussion about the future of the EU. I have also sent you a letter setting out my reflections on the future of the EU. Our discussion in Malta will help us subsequently to prepare a declaration in view of Rome. Rome must be a moment of celebration and unity and an opportunity to collectively set out a vision for the coming years.
I very much look forward to seeing you all in Malta on Friday.