Gozo needs a re­gional au­thor­ity to work in its best in­ter­ests - Al­fred Sant

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

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