- Minister Fitzgerald attends second day of EU Africa Valletta Summit on Migration

- Minister visits European Asylum Support Office Headquarters

12 November 2015

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD today participated in day two of the EU Africa Heads of State and Government Summit on Migration in Valletta, Malta, at which a comprehensive Declaration and Action Plan in response to the migration crisis was agreed by consensus. The Minister also visited the European Asylum Support Office based in Valletta which is coordinating the implementation of the EU's relocation of migrants programme.

Addressing the Heads of State and Government meeting, Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the Declaration and Action Plan as an expression of the serious intent and commitment of EU and African countries to work together to bring the migration crisis under control and to address its root causes. The Minister also welcomed the establishment of the new EU €1.8 billion Trust Fund as an important initiative to support the successful implementation of the Declaration and Action Plan.

The Minister said, "The Trust Fund is a key element of the EU contribution to tackling the root causes of instability, forced displacement and irregular migration in the North, East and West African regions. Saving lives is the first priority and the action plan agreed sets out enhanced cooperation to tackle people traffickers and smugglers who are exploiting and endangering the lives of many vulnerable migrants. Another very important step has been taken towards resolving this crisis and towards addressing long term migration issues.”

Following the conclusion of the Summit, Minister Fitzgerald visited the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) where she met with Mr Jose Carreira, Acting EASO Executive Director, Mr David Costello, Deputy Chairperson of the EASO Management Board and Irish Refugee Applications Commissioner, Mr Francois Bienfait, EASO Head of Training and Quality, and other EASO officials.

The Minister was briefed on progress on the implementation of the EU programme to relocate migrants from Greece and Italy. The Minister commended EASO on its commitment to ensuring the relocation programme is a success. Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that Ireland is ready to accept the first group for relocation to Ireland and said she expected that these would arrive in Ireland before the end of the year. The Minister also confirmed that Irish officials, including the Liaison Officers appointed to Italy and Greece and experts nominated in response to the EASO call for experts, will provide all necessary support and assistance in the implementation of the relocation programme.

Minister Fitzgerald congratulated EASO on its wider role in supporting the EUs common asylum policy and expressed her gratitude for the support it provides to the office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner in the area of training and quality.