With the UK leaving, we are losing a like-minded country
and that this will be the backdrop for Malta’s Presidency.
Minister Grech reiterated that immigration, security and the internal market will be on top of the priority list during Malta’s Presidency. Social inclusion, a sector which is very much close to the government’s heart, will also be given priority, Dr Grech added.
“Our Presidency will try and provide hope so that the trust in the EU institutions is restored. But we need to find a balance. There is no one fit-for-all solution.”
The UK will invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union in the middle of the Maltese Presidency, he explained, and this will provide a greater challenge.
On the minimum wage, the deputy Prime Minister said that this issue should be addressed and it should be a socialist government that takes the necessary steps in the right direction.
All EU funds will be used by end of 2023 - Ian Borg
Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds, Ian Borg, contradicted the claim by Shadow Minister Dr Mario de Marco and explained that the rate of EU funds used until the year 2013 was only at 30%. Dr Borg was reacting to the claim made by the PN MP when he warned that the government has to use all the EU funds before the year 2020 as the country would risk losing this money.
Dr Borg also explained that the EU funds will be used by the end of 2023, as the government planned a number of projects to be implemented by that time.
He announced that the government will soon be issuing a call to carry out works in regional roads around Malta and Gozo.
The Prime Minister mishandled the Panama Scandal - Mario de Marco
In the same sitting, Shadow Minister Mario de Marco said that 2017 will be a landmark year for Malta thanks to the Presidency but warned that this period must be used to portray Malta as a serious country.
Speaking in Parliament as the House discussed the budget allocation for the Ministry for EU Affairs, Dr de Marco said that the Maltese Presidency will coincide with a very challenging time for the European Union. Referring to Brexit, Dr de Marco said that this event has challenged the very foundations of the EU. “With the UK leaving, we are losing a likeminded country,” he added.
Referring to the Panama Papers scandal, Dr de Marco said that the government has the duty to look into this matter even on an international level. “Our responsibility is to use this Presidency to give the image of a serious country and to show that we are active participants in this union. Unfortunately, our Prime Minister mishandled the Panama Scandal.” Dr de Marco insisted that Konrad Mizzi’s apology was not enough to restore Malta’s tarnished reputation due to the international scandal.
On EU funds, the PN Deputy Leader said that the PN administration had a 23-page list of projects completed through these funds. “These funds resulted in the economic success of our country.”
He warned that Malta might not be eligible for EU regional funds after the year 2020 and so called on the government to use the allocated funds to help in the infrastructure and other projects which are needed for the country to compete with the rest of the EU countries.
Dr de Marco criticized the government for allowing contracts to go unpublished and asked how the public and the Opposition can carry out the necessary scrutiny if these never see the light of day. He said that even worse was that when these contracts are published, parts of them are censored. “I think the public should know all the details involved in the contracts which privatised three hospitals in Malta and Gozo. How can we carry out the necessary scrutiny if the ultimate beneficiaries are not even known?”