Min­is­ter for For­eign Af­fairs ad­dresses first EU pres­i­dency meet­ing

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The first meet­ing un­der the aus­pices of the Mal­tese Pres­i­dency of the Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union was held in Val­letta yes­ter­day.

The in­for­mal Meet­ing of State Sec­re­taries and Sec­re­taries-Gen­eral in the Min­istries of For­eign Af­fairs of the EU Mem­ber States is tra­di­tion­ally held a few weeks be­fore an EU Mem­ber State as­sumes the Pres­i­dency of the Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union. Malta will take on this role on 1 Jan­uary 2017.

The Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry for For­eign Af­fairs Fiona For­mosa wel­comed her coun­ter­parts to Malta and led four ses­sions of dis­cus­sions.

Min­is­ter for For­eign Af­fairs Ge­orge. W. Vella pre­sented the main ar­eas of fo­cus of the Mal­tese Pres­i­dency of the Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union, namely: mi­gra­tion; the sin­gle mar­ket; se­cu­rity; so­cial in­clu­sion; the Euro­pean neigh­bour­hood; and mar­itime af­fairs. The pro­gramme of this event con­cluded with a visit to the Euro­pean Asy­lum Sup­port Of­fice where pre­sen­ta­tions on the sta­tus of asy­lum in Europe were held.

Min­is­ter Vella fo­cused on the Euro­pean Union’s South­ern Neigh­bour­hood, in par­tic­u­lar the sit­u­a­tion in the Mediter­ranean, Min­is­ter Vella said Malta will give sub­stan­tial con­sid­er­a­tion to the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­icy, which is now em­bed­ded in the new Global Strat­egy, as it is Malta’s con­vic­tion that it can play a vi­tal role in im­prov­ing the daily lives of peo­ple.

their premises and if this is not done le­gal ac­tion will be taken against them.

The Per­form­ing Rights So­ci­ety Ltd is a reg­is­tered pri­vate com­pany claim­ing to rep­re­sent mu­si­cians all over the world. Hav­ing been rec­og­nized by the Copy­right Board it has been col­lect­ing such fees over the years but re­cently it has been much more ag­gres­sive in its ef­forts to col­lect what it per­ceives as its dues.

The li­cence needs to be paid yearly and is ap­pli­ca­ble to all forms of mu­sic be­ing played. This in­cludes play­ing back­ground mu­sic in a shop or wait­ing area, even if mu­sic is played from orig­i­nal CDs that have been bought and utilised in the premises only fre­quented by em­ploy­ees on the ba­sis that mu­sic in­creases staff per­for­mance and im­proves morale.

The fee is far from be­ing a stan­dard one since it is cal­cu­lated by PRS Ltd and the en­ter­prise is sent a quo­ta­tion, with­out re­course. The ba­sis of the cal­cu­la­tion is made on the square me­ters of premises, the type of premises and the nature and ex­tent in which the mu­sic is used.

Turn­ing on the tele­vi­sion in com­mer­cial

He also un­der­scored that Malta will en­sure that the Western Balkan Re­gion will be con­ferred its due at­ten­tion. In this re­spect, Malta will con­tinue to pro­mote EU En­large­ment and the Sta­bil­i­sa­tion and As­so­ci­a­tion Process.

In his clos­ing re­marks, Min­is­ter Vella un­der­scored the role of re­gional and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions in en­hanc­ing re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and com­ple­ment­ing the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions that ex­ist be­tween the EU Mem­ber States and

premises, play­ing mu­sic in a taxi, and even the ice-cream van jingle also re­quire a li­cence. The li­cence fee could cost hun­dreds of eu­ros and runs in the thou­sands for larger es­tab­lish­ments. In the case of restau­rants, fees could go up to Eur8.24 per seat/cover an­nu­ally just for back­ground mu­sic, ex­clud­ing ad­di­tional fees in cases of live per­for­mances and other.

GRTU is con­cerned as to how th­ese 'ap­proved' tar­iffs are drawn up. The cal­cu­la­tion of th­ese fees must be done in a trans­par­ent man­ner and be sub­ject to scru­tiny. The ap­proval of such tar­iffs as well as fu­ture in­creases seems to be un­der­taken with­out any im­pact as­sess­ment on busi­nesses and with­out any con­sul­ta­tion what­so­ever. It is also ev­i­dent that the copy­right board, which is the en­tity ap­prov­ing of PRS Ltd’s oper­a­tion and fees, does not have a mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing busi­nesses and re­tail­ers, who are the ma­jor stake­hold­ers in this is­sue.

Busi­ness own­ers are very frus­trated and are find­ing dif­fi­culty in jus­ti­fy­ing the needs for this hefty, yearly run­ning cost and li­cense neigh­bour­hood coun­tries. The fur­ther con­sol­i­da­tion of EU poli­cies to­wards both the south and the east has a fun­da­men­tal role to play in help­ing us build a se­cure, peace­ful and stable neigh­bour­hood.

Min­is­ter Vella also ex­pressed his gen­uine con­vic­tion that diplo­macy and di­a­logue pay div­i­dends in the long term.

In con­clu­sion, Min­is­ter Vella noted that Malta is al­ways keen to pro­pose new and in­no­va­tive ways of en­gag­ing with our neigh­bours; and in this spirit an­nounced that Malta will be or­gan­is­ing an event that brings to­gether EU For­eign Min­is­ters, South­ern Part­ners and GCC coun­tries in April.

The meet­ing con­tin­ued at with fur­ther dis­cus­sions on the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­icy through a pre­sen­ta­tion on its south­ern di­men­sion by Prof Stephen Calleja, Di­rec­tor of the Mediter­ranean Acad­emy of Diplo­matic Stud­ies, and an­other by the Euro­pean Ex­ter­nal Ac­tion Ser­vice on man­age­ment is­sues.

when the coun­try is mov­ing in a di­rec­tion where even the ba­sic trade li­cense is be­ing re­moved to di­min­ish the bur­den on busi­ness. In this dig­i­tal age where mu­sic is bor­der­less and is avail­able to any­body through the smart­phone en­ter­prises are find­ing hav­ing to pay for the use of this mu­sic in­com­pre­hen­si­ble. Busi­nesses in fact are al­ready pay­ing for both for the mu­sic and the tech­nol­ogy and they work very hard to get clients and no law secures their en­ter­prises’ vi­a­bil­ity.

Apart from this PRS Ltd is only one op­er­a­tor car­ry­ing out such work. More op­er­a­tors could ap­ply with the copy­rights board to rep­re­sent mu­si­cians not al­ready rep­re­sented by PRS. Will Mal­tese busi­nesses start re­ceiv­ing other quotes they need to pay?

GRTU has re­quested its mem­bers to for­ward copies of any re­lated cor­re­spon­dence or in­voices from PRS ltd to GRTU with im­me­di­ate ef­fect. GRTU has also writ­ten to the Copy­right Board, which is part of the Min­istry for the Econ­omy, In­vest­ment and Small Busi­nesses port­fo­lio, to re­quest an ur­gent meet­ing to dis­cuss this mat­ter.

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