The Malta mechanism: a fresh start on migration?

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On 23 September, France, Germany, Italy and Malta declared their intention to establish a solidarity mechanism for the disembarkation and redistribution of asylum seekers rescued in the Mediterranean. While the proposal can help putting an end to quarrels over the responsibility to disembark migrants rescued at sea, it applies only to a small fraction of those arriving via the Mediterranean. The Malta mechanism does litle to change the overall direction of EU asylum policy, which continues to prioritise keeping arrival numbers low over establishing a sustainable system of responsibility sharing. Consequently, there is little hope that the mechanism can serve as a blueprint for von der Leyen’s promise of a “fresh start” on migration.