Fabian Demicoli

Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2017 discussed at MEUSAC

 This
week GRTU, together with the other members of the Malta EU Steering and Action
Committee, were addressed by Dr Ian Borg, Parliamentary Secretary for the EU
Presidency 2017 and EU Funds during a Core Group meeting which focused on
Malta's preparations for the Presidency in 2017.

We
are now three years away from the date when Malta will take over the presidency
of the European Council. Three years might seem a lot but in fact it is no so
for the amount of work and preparation that needs to be undertaken.

The
top Government officials taking care of preparations for the Presidency are Mr
Victor Camilleri, Executive Director (Programming and Training), and Mr Paul
Mifsud, Logistics Coordinator. Parliamentary Secretary Borg announced that
the first formal meeting of the Presidency Trio consisting of Slovakia, the
Netherlands and Malta that will be presiding over the Council of the European
Union between 1 January 2016 and 30 June 2017 will take place in Bratislava at
the end of March. During this meeting, the three countries will start working
on the task of identifying the priorities of the Presidency and to start
preparing the programme.

Dr
Borg said that the internal structure within the Ministry to deal with the
requirements of the Presidency has already started to be set up. They are
currently looking into the need to increase the amount of human resources they
have especially those based in Brussels, which most probably will have to
triplicate. At the moment the officials were meeting with all the Ministries to
draft a list of priorities for Malta and ultimately come up with a programme.

The
Parliamentary Secretary also said that the Budget will be finalized in June
2014 and that Malta did not have a figure as yet of how much will be spent on
the Presidency. From past experience of other Member States however it
transpired that the cost of a presidency is significant and even when countries
are very careful with spending they can easily spend around €50M. Dr Borg said
that Malta has already secured an amount of funds from the EU to address
capacity building needs required for the run up to the EU Presidency.

Mr
Victor Camilleri explained that the role of the Presidency includes the
responsibility for chairing meetings of the Council and its many working groups
throughout the process from when the European Commission issues a legislative
proposal to the moment when the Council adopts the legislative act. Together
with the two other Member States of the Trio, a programme is drafted for the 18
months. The presiding Member State also chairs informal Council Meetings and
organises other ancillary events that take place in the Member State during the
Presidency. Mr Camilleri said that the Maltese Presidency must promote the EU's
priorities, but will also strive to push forward Malta's priorities in the EU.

During
the meeting GRTU stated that it welcomed the update and the fact that
Government was consulting social partners. We emphasized that both GRTU and its
members do not want a Presidency that comes and goes without us feeling that we
have been involved and participants. We feel that both GRTU and its members can
be very valid contributors to a successful Presidency.

GRTU
also said that we would like to hear more about the programme that Malta will
be focusing on when more details are available. We have put forward a
suggestion that Malta should include SMEs in its priorities and push further
than the Small Business Act, towards an SME strategy that is more legally
binding on Member States.

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