Malta’s presidency will not just feature Brexit and migration – PM
The whole Cabinet has flown to Brussels for different events mostly linked with preparations leading up to Malta taking over the presidency of the European Union in January.
The Cabinet is led by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who yesterday started his appointments in the Belgian capital with meetings with the President of the European Parliament, Martin Shultz, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk.
The meetings dealt with the EU presidency and the informal summit to be held in February.
Malta’s role as bridge builder is ‘key’ for EU presidency - Prime Minister
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that one of Malta’s best qualities, that of being a ‘bridge builder,’ is key for its role as President of the EU Council. He also said that Malta’s presidency will not just feature Brexit and migration.
Malta’s term begins in January, and will last for six months. Dr Muscat was addressing a joint press conference with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Junker. Malta’s Cabinet, led by Dr Muscat, are currently in Brussels on separate events all related to the upcoming presidency. Addressing members of the press, he said that the government has “no delusions of grandeur”.
“The role and the job is what it is, it has been re-dimensioned over the past few years. We will stick to our job properly, getting things done, making sure that EU does not grind to a stop and stick to the things that matter. We will give our input when that input is needed.”
He said that the trio programme – comprised of Malta, Slovenia and the Netherlands – will be focusing on achievements in the digital economy when it comes to the single market, as well as new ideas and areas of progress on the European social pillar.
“Our advantage is that we are natural bridge builders, we try to forge compromises in a way that makes the future workable.
“There will be crises to solve, both known and unknown. The next six months will not just be about Brexit and migration. There is a lot of other work that needs to be done to improve the livelihood of our people. We want to make whatever we say is more comprehensible to everyone – making people understand what our work is and how it affects their lives.
“One thing we can draw from the current global trends is that much energy needs to go to listening to people and acting on their concerns.
“We are working with one of the most proactive commissions that we can imagine and hope for. We hope that as presidency we will help the commission to carry out their duties as best they can.”
‘No surprises’ that Malta is very prepared for presidency - Commission President Jean-Claude Junker
Commission President JeanClaude Junker said that it is “no surprise that Malta is very prepared for the upcoming EU Council Presidency,” while addressing the press conference.
He said that “Malta is a serious country, down to earth,” adding that it is a “small country with great ambitions.” It must be noted that both the government of Malta and the government of Luxembourg have both been embroiled in financial controversy, the former having to do with the Panama Papers scandal involving the PM’s two most trusted men, and the latter involving Luxembourg’s former practice to offer secret special tax rulings that siphoned off taxable profits from nearby member states.
“I am quite convinced that next year we will have six good months. Malta is not putting on the top of the agenda its national concerns, but European concerns. I am envisaging the Maltese presidency not with hope, but with the expectation that the European programme will be good for the next six months.”
He spoke of the positive relations and friendship he holds with Dr Muscat, even going so far as to say:
“I like Prime Minister Muscat, I won’t say that I love him, well maybe I do love Prime Minister Muscat.”
He quipped that when Malta joined the EU in 2004 he was ecstatic because that meant that Luxembourg will no longer be the smallest country in the EU.