De­bate on the fu­ture EU Bud­get

Busi­nesses en­cour­aged to tap more into di­rect EU funds.

The Malta Business Weekly - - NEWS -

At a busi­ness sem­i­nar on The fu­ture EU Bud­get co-or­gan­ised by the Malta Busi­ness Bureau and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Malta, stake­hold­ers spoke of the pri­vate sec­tor’s need to in­crease tap­ping into di­rect EU funds, so as to ad­dress chal­lenges in the ar­eas of in­no­va­tion, en­vi­ron­ment and labour mar­ket, among oth­ers.

In her open­ing re­marks, the head of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Malta, Dr Elena Grech, em­pha­sised that an early agree­ment on the bud­get be­fore the next Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions in May 2019 is es­sen­tial in or­der to en­sure the smooth con­tin­u­a­tion of op­er­a­tions. She fur­ther un­der­lined that the next EU bud­get will be cru­cial to shape the fu­ture of Europe that we want for our Union of 27.

In his ad­dress, MBB pres­i­dent, Si­mon De Ce­sare, de­clared that, in the next pro­gram­ming pe­riod, the EU bud­get needs to be used as a tool to take de­ci­sive steps and en­sure that our economies are strength­ened. De Ce­sare said: “The bud­get will need to speed up im­por­tant trans­for­ma­tions, namely an in­creased fo­cus on ar­eas with clear EU-added value, such as a greater role for in­no­va­tion, fa­cil­i­tat­ing the lever­age of more pri­vate in­vest­ment and con­tribut­ing to more con­ver­gence among EU re­gions.”

Dur­ing an ex­change of views on EU funds for Malta post-2020, Aaron Far­ru­gia, par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary for EU Funds and So­cial Di­a­logue high­lighted the im­por­tant role of EU funds for Malta es­pe­cially since Malta still faces a num­ber of chal­lenges de­spite the eco­nomic growth. He said: “EU funds are still needed to con­sol­i­date and sus­tain, not halt or hin­der the eco­nomic growth which Malta has ex­pe­ri­enced in re­cent years. In this re­gard, gov­ern­ment is un­der­tak­ing the nec­es­sary pro­cesses with a view to be in a po­si­tion to ne­go­ti­ate the best pos­si­ble pack­age for Malta.”

Participating in a panel dis­cus- sion, Ste­fano Mal­lia (vice-pres­i­dent, EESC Em­ploy­ers Group), Jonathan Vas­sallo (direc­tor gen­eral, PPCD) and An­dre Fenech (head of Pol­icy, Malta Cham­ber of Com­merce) un­der­lined the need for a flex­i­ble EU bud­get, one that has a tai­lor-made ap­proach in line with na­tional cir­cum­stances rather than a one-size-fits-all ap­proach. While all agreed that the pro­posed EU bud­get pri­or­i­ties are right, the EU bud­get needs to en­sure that it takes into con­sid­er­a­tion each in­di­vid­ual mem­ber state’s ca­pac­ity.

Fur­ther­more, fo­cus was also put on fi­nan­cial in­stru­ments as key al­ter­na­tives to grants, as well as the need to sim­plify EU fund­ing pro­ce­dures and re­duce bu­reau­cracy, thus mak­ing it eas­ier for busi­nesses to tap into.

The high-level de­bate, mod­er­ated by MBB head of Brus­sels Op­er­a­tions, Daniel De­bono, also saw the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Sime­ona Manova, Pol­icy an­a­lyst for the Mul­tian­nual Fi­nan­cial Frame­work at DG Bud­get Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. Manova gave an over­view of the pro­posed EU bud­get post2020 as well as the process in­volved.

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