Gozo needs a regional authority to work in its best interests - Alfred Sant
The setting up of a Regional Authority in Gozo synchronised with the policies of the government of the day which operates in the interests of the Gozitan island would benefit Gozo socially and economically, former Prime Minister Alfred Sant said.
Addressing a conference on Gozo’s development in Europe at the Grand Hotel, Mġarr, Gozo, Dr Sant said that he supports all measures which make up for the disadvantages in Gozo due to its double insularity.
Gozitans cannot expect the European Union to solve their problems but they should take the lead to find solutions. Gozo lacks the strategic need to be governed as a region. “Government has already acknowledged this by stating it will be focusing on its regionality in this year’s Budget speech,” he said.
The rules of the European Union will not be changed for Gozo and neither for the other islands in the Union.” EU rules do not fit Gozo and other islands on the periphery of Europe. The populations of Corsica and Sardegna face the same challenges and problems like the people of Gozo.”
The EU does not make a distinction between Malta and Gozo and does not recognize Gozo as a region. “I have been harping in the European Parliament for the past years that EU rules harm the development of Gozo. EU rules do not permit state aid to fast ferry service between Gozo, Malta and the rest of the Mediterranean. This service is vital for Gozo for social and commercial reasons. But we must understand that EU competition rules will not be changed and therefore the Gozitans must find their own solutions to these challenges,” Dr Sant said.
The big countries in the EU defend their national interests. France vetoes each proposal for the closing down of the European Parliament in Strasbourg which is a waste of money and resources. France takes this stand because Strasbourg is part of its territory. Malta should keep defending its national interests in the EU. It should follow suit on other instances and it should keep objecting to the proposal of tax harmonisation among all EU member states which is not in the interests of Malta and Gozo.
The conference was also addressed by Joe Cordina, Maria Dimech and Joe Grech who spoke on Gozo’s social, political and economic challenges.