Gov­ern­ment not against third coun­try in­vest­ment screen­ing, Malta build­ing its own Na­tional Screen­ing Mech­a­nism

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

The Mal­tese gov­ern­ment is not against a Euro­pean Com­mis­sion ini­tia­tive that would see third coun­try state in­vest­ments in crit­i­cal ar­eas be­ing screened to en­sure pub­lic se­cu­rity. In fact, a gov­ern­ment spokesper­son has told The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day that the gov­ern­ment is even work­ing on its own Na­tional Screen­ing Mech­a­nism.

Over re­cent years, Malta has had third coun­try in­vest­ments in the en­ergy sec­tor – the one-third sale of Ene­malta to the Chi­nese sta­te­owned Shang­hai Elec­tric, and the in­volve­ment of the Azer­bai­jani state-owned SOCAR in the new De­li­mara power sta­tion, as well as the gov­ern­ment’s con­trac­tual com­mit­ment to pur­chase nat­u­ral gas from that com­pany for 18 years.

The two in­vest­ments have been among the more con­tentious deals struck by the cur­rent gov­ern­ment.

A tri­par­tite agree­ment was reached be­tween the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Coun­cil and Com­mis­sion last Tues­day to be­gin screen­ing cer­tain types of for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in EU mem­ber states to en­sure se­cu­rity and pub­lic or­der.

The pro­posal, de­manded by France, Ger­many and the previous gov­ern­ment of Italy, still needs the sup­port of the 28 EU states at a meet­ing on 5 De­cem­ber. How­ever, re­ports have sug­gested that their back­ing is by no means cer­tain given op­po­si­tion from a num­ber a coun­tries, in­clud­ing Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Lux­em­bourg and Por­tu­gal.

Asked about Malta’s re­ac­tion to the agree­ment, a Mal­tese gov­ern­ment spokesper­son said that was not the case: “While not­ing that the rel­e­vant dis­cus­sions still have to take place, Malta is op­ti­mistic re­gard­ing the ne­go­ti­ated pack­age, while un­der­lin­ing its sup­port for the coun­cil po­si­tion as agreed be­tween mem­ber states. It should be noted that Malta is also work­ing to build its own Na­tional Screen­ing Mech­a­nism.

“Malta was among those coun­tries which sup­ported the com­pro­mise Coun­cil po­si­tion on this file which was adopted in June 2018 at COREPER level, and which was reached fol­low­ing dis­cus­sions, and which takes into ac­count con­cerns ex­pressed by over 15 dif­fer­ent mem­ber states.

“Tri­logues on this file sub­se­quently started with the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, and the re­sults of these tri­logues will be dis­cussed on a tech­ni­cal level in the com­ing days, and will sub­se­quently go to Com­mit­tee of Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the Euro­pean Union (COREPER) level for ap­proval.”

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