New mo­men­tum and plat­form needed to re­build trust in EU Pro­ject

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

In the cur­rent cir­cum­stances, the two over­ar­ch­ing ob­jec­tives and pri­or­i­ties of our Pres­i­dency are to en­sure the long term sus­tain­abil­ity of the Union, and to re­store be­lief in the Euro­pean pro­ject, said Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Louis Grech, whilst speak­ing dur­ing the Malta EU Pre-Pres­i­dency Con­fer­ence held yes­ter­day.

The Deputy Prime Min­is­ter said that re­cent events es­pe­cially the tough fi­nan­cial up­heavals, mi­gra­tion, se­cu­rity, ter­ror­ism and Brexit have trau­ma­tised the Euro­pean Union. These have con­trib­uted to a large de­gree to the re-emer­gence of ex­treme na­tion­al­ism, pro­tec­tion­ism, xeno­pho­bic and geo-po­lit­i­cal ten­sions, he con­tin­ued.

Mr Grech stated that at this del­i­cate mo­ment in time of Europe’s his­tory, one must fo­cus on the is­sues that ad­dress the le­git­i­mate con­cerns and ex­pec­ta­tions of the Euro­pean cit­i­zens that cause the cit­i­zens to lose con­fi­dence in the Union. He said that Europe needs to ad­dress con­cretely the un­cer­tainty, fear and in­equal­i­ties felt by its cit­i­zens.

He re­it­er­ated that the Dutch, Slo­vak and Mal­tese Pres­i­den­cies are guided by five pil­lars which are aligned with the EU’s Strate­gic Agenda. These ar­eas in­clude jobs, growth and com­pet­i­tive­ness; em­pow­er­ment and pro­tec­tion for all cit­i­zens; en­ergy union and a for­ward-look­ing cli­mate pol­icy; free­dom, se­cu­rity and jus­tice; and the Union as a strong global actor. Mr Grech out­lined that the pri­or­i­ties of the Mal­tese Pres­i­dency fit into these bas­kets.

On Brexit, he stated that once Ar­ti­cle 50 is ac­ti­vated, a prag­matic ap­proach to ne­go­ti­a­tions should be adopted, that should lead to fair, clear and swift so­lu­tions which ad­dress the com­plex re­al­i­ties.

Mr Grech re­marked that the Malta Sum­mit in Fe­bru­ary will con­tinue the re­flec­tion that has started in Bratislava, and pre­pare for the 60th An­niver­sary of the Treaty of Rome. This should be an oc­ca­sion to find a new mo­men­tum and a plat­form to re­build trust in the Euro­pean pro­ject in a vi­able and sus­tain­able way right in the mid­dle of the Mal­tese Pres­i­dency, he said.

He also quoted to­day’s edi­tion of the EurAc­tiv, which said that the Mal­tese Pres­i­dency is gear­ing up for the per­fect storm. He said that ad­mit­tedly the chal­lenges are sen­si­tive and com­plex, how­ever with the right lead­er­ship, sense of vi­sion and in-built flex­i­bil­ity the Euro­pean ideal will face its chal­lenges suc­cess­fully and with­stand the test of time.

The Deputy Prime Min­is­ter con­cluded that there is no other op­tion for Europe to turn these set­backs ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing these ex­tra­or­di­nary dif­fi­cult times into po­ten­tial and vi­able out­comes for the fu­ture of the Euro­pean pro­ject.

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