Juncker looking forward to Maltese presidency, ‘agenda in line with Commission priorities’
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat yesterday said that he is hopeful for the Maltese Presidency of the European Union and that he believes EU member states will be able to work together in unity over the coming six months.
Addressing a joint press conference with Dr Muscat yesterday afternoon, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker remarked how this was the sixth time he was visiting Malta. President Juncker remarked how on one of those occasions he had been campaigning for Malta’s entry into the EU, and “against the Socialists”, to which the Prime Minister, interrupting, said “against me”.
President Juncker said that, that time, (in 2003) he had won, to which the Prime Minister replied that “you (President Juncker) won there and I won here”, but it was President Juncker who had the last quip, saying “you’re a local winner, I’m a global winner.”
“Despite all this, the Prime Minister and I enjoy a very good personal relationship,” he added.
President Juncker praised the Maltese government for its preparations for the Presidency and said that the Maltese agenda is in line with the six priorities outlined by the Commission. “I’m sure we will be leaving Malta in a good mood,” he added.
President Juncker remarked, “Malta has now been a member of the European Union for 13 years, and it is the first time that Malta is in the chair of the Presidency. We, as the Commission, have the impression and the knowledge that the Maltese government has prepared for this Presidency in an excellent way. The six overarching priorities of the Maltese government fit into the programme of the Commission. We are most interested in seeing the Maltese government achieving further progress as far as the migration issue is concerned. This is of vital importance.”
On migration, the Prime Minister said Malta has no ‘silver bullet’, but that the Maltese government will pitch its thoughts on the issue. He said that Malta’s position has always been open for burden sharing and that the Maltese government has always offered its solidarity. “We should stop blaming the people for electing politicians with extreme ideas. The public is
asking the right questions but politicians are giving the wrong answers, but these are the only kind of answers they are getting.” President Juncker said that the current migration crises need a European solution because they are a European problem.
Replying to questions from journalists about the new Delimara power station and how the European Commission had approved the project, President Juncker said that he does not interfere in cases the fall under the respective commissioners.
On the other hand, Dr Muscat said he was pleased with the project and described the event as a landmark for Malta.
“We have already reduced energy tariffs by 25% and this project will help us make energy more sustainable,” he added.
When asked by sections of the British media to comment about Brexit, the Prime Minister insisted that the UK should get a fair deal but that deal should not be equal to the full membership.