Juncker look­ing for­ward to Mal­tese pres­i­dency, ‘agenda in line with Com­mis­sion pri­or­i­ties’

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - ■ Gabriel Schem­bri

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.

Photo: Jonathan Borg

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