Fabian Demicoli

Prime Minister addresses MEUSAC

Prime
Minister Joseph Muscat met MEUSAC core group members, amongst which GRTU, where
he gave an introduction and Malta's views on the issues that will be discussed
during the next European Council meeting that would be held in the following
day and gather the views of civil society on these important issues.

The
topics on the Council's agenda are the European Common and Security Policy, the
Economic and Monetary Unions, Economic and Social Policy and the report of the
Task Force on Energy and the Mediterranean.

Dr
Muscat spoke at length on the issue of immigration and that there was some
positive impetus especially on proposals related to failed asylum seekers would
be returned to their country of origin. He also said that migrants who landed
in Malta whose status was dubious,  and
who may hail from extremist groups, could pose a security threat to both Malta
and the EU.

The
Prime Minister also mentioned a very important issue that Malta was concerned
with related to contractual arrangements the EU was proposing that each member
state would enter into. It proposed that instead of issuing specific country
recommendations it would bind the specific Member State (MS) to the specific
recommendations contractually. The reasoning behind this was mainly that the specific
recommendations for some MS stayed the same year after year and this would
commit the MS further to make the necessary changes. Dr Muscat however said
Malta, and not just Malta is concerned because first of all on a matter of
principle a contract should be something that two parties agree to and not
something dictated and on certain subject the MS would need more flexibility
and time. He gave an example with the pension system which was something easy
to sort.

Dr
Muscat also touched on issues of solidarity, especially financial solidarity
and where would these funds come from and on issues of sovereignty saying that
Malta had no problem with more EU involvement but suggested the EU leaves
Member States to decide on certain issues, such as tax-related ones for
instance.

Present
for the meeting where GRTU President Paul Abela and EU Desk Coordinator Abigail
Psaila Mamo. Mr Abela was first one to intervene and address the Prime
Minister. Mr Abela thanked the prime Minister for the commitment he has shown
to civil society by being there and by once again confirming the Civil Society
Funds given to us as civil society which was essential for us to maintain our
work at EU level and communicate the EU to our members.

Mr
Abela also spoke about access to finance and mentioned the situation of the
banking sector and that we were lucky during the crises and that we appreciate
that Government has expressed its commitment to investigate certain practices
that we feel constitute an abuse of dominant position. In line with the
investigations going on around all the EU the Maltese Government will also
carry out its research. Mr Abela also called on the Government to establish a
development bank.

Mr
Abela told the Prime Minister that the environment should be given due
importance and the best opportunities should be sought out for the betterment
of SMEs and there were many opportunities. GRTU is doing its part leading its
members in this area and even issued a specific scheme to better the service
the consumer if given by the sector.

Finally
Mr Abela augured the Prime Minister the best of luck for the meeting ahead and
that he would get the best deals for Malta.

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