At the heart of the Mediterranean crossroads, lie two islands that bridge North and South, islands that will undoubtedly continue to experience flows of migrants and refugees, like the ones that have caused such a furore during the last decade. Malta and Cyprus were admitted into the European Union (EU) in 2004, a fact that has greatly affected the type of migration they are both experiencing and the related policy responses. Moreover, they lie between the shores of rich Europe, with its declining birth rates and consequent labour shortages, and poor Africa with its burgeoning jobless population, visible demarcations of the North-South divide and the related South-North migration routes into the EU. Their geographic location now means that they are lucky enough to be considered part of “Europe”, but must also
bear the consequences as their borders have been redefined as external EU borders in need of fortification and control.
This paper is a comparative analysis of how Malta and Cyprus are coping with their new migration realities as member states on the European Union’s southern periphery. I will first discuss what the two islands have in common and where they differ in terms of migration and the responses to this relatively new phenomenon for countries historically known as countries of emigration. Where can lessons learnt be shared and what does each of these countries have to gain from the experience of the other? This discussion will be framed within the accession of the two states to the EU. Although part of the rich club, they are also minor political players within the Union and therefore hold little power to affect the type of migration and asylum policies they are obliged to enact as member states. Indeed, as members, they are now not simply facing new forms of migration, but have also been placed in the difficult position of acting as gatekeepers. In this context, EU policies and directives have impelled them to adopt increasingly restrictive migration policies.
Cyprus, Malta, European Union, migration, migration controls, externalisation, asylum, irregular migration, refugees, mixed flows
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