PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR SOCIAL DIALOGUE, CONSUMER AFFAIRS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES: Malta to see that EU priorities are implemented during its Presidency

Addressing a MEUSAC Core Group meeting about the main points of Malta’s national programme for the Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2017, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties Helena Dalli, said that she is positive that Malta will achieve the objectives being set out for its Presidency. Dr Dalli thanked the three directors heading the Presidency Unit for their ongoing support in the run-up to the Presidency.

Minister Dalli said that an information campaign for the public will start next week, highlighting the role that MEUSAC will also play in disseminating information on the Presidency.

Parliamentary Secretary for the EU Presidency 2017 and EU Funds Ian Borg said that Malta will see that a list of EU priorities will be implemented or transformed into legislation during Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2017, including the revision of the Dublin Regulation and the implementation of the Action Plan that what was agreed to last year during the Valletta Summit on migration.

Dr Borg referred to the revision of the EU’s Multi-Annual Financial Framework which is expected to be agreed to during the current Slovak Presidency and which the Maltese Presidency will seek to implement, stating that the EU is at a stage where the MFF needs to be more flexible to direct more of its finances towards priority areas such as security following the terrorist attacks in various parts of Europe, including Nice in France.

Turning to migration, Dr Borg said that Malta has always put migration at the top of its agenda, especially after the number of tragedies that took place in the Mediterranean involving migrants. “There is also the social aspect,” he continued, referring to Malta’s poverty challenge which “we would need to continue to address”.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that during the September 16 Bratislava Summit, the 27 Member States discussed the future of the EU for the first time without the UK Prime Minister being present. He said that Brexit and other major issues will put a massive responsibility on Malta’s shoulders during the Presidency where Malta will try to see that a consensus on certain issues is reached.

He also made reference to the legislative aspect of migration, terrorism and the Single Market.

He outlined a number of other issues or proposals that will be discussed or implemented during Malta’s Presidency, including the transformation of the Malta-based European Asylum Seekers Office (EASO) into a fully fledged European Agency.

He also referred to the Blue Card Directive, which, he hopes, Malta will see implemented, the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive and the proposal tied to the setting up of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.

He also referred to the Single Market and the challenges the EU is going through and that Malta will continue to support legislation tied to the Single Market Strategy, including the Capital Markets Union, the Energy Union and the Digital Single Market.

‘Geoblocking’ and other forms of discrimination will also be discussed, he said, while the abolition of roaming charges will take place during Malta’s Presidency, specifically in June 2017.

Dr Borg also referred to the recently adopted Bratislava Roadmap and to measures such as the extension of the European Fund for Strategic Investment.

Dr Borg also highlighted the need to discuss and tackle issues considered to be of priority for its own citizens and those of the EU. Malta gains credibility when it communicates openly and honestly about Europe’s shortcomings, while also finding tangible new ways of showing the positive difference decisions in Brussels can make in peoples’ lives. In particular, Dr Borg said that the legislative agenda of the Presidency of the Council of the EU needs to be communicated in a way that means something concrete to EU and Maltese citizens, not just to bureaucrats. The Bratislava roadmap was also discussed at length including the future challenges of the European Union.

The Parliamentary Secretary also thanked all the public officials involved in the Presidency, praising their work and dedication.

In reply to a comment about what Malta stands to gain from the Presidency, Dr Borg stated that Malta has benefitted a lot since it joined the EU in 2004 and that the Presidency would be an opportunity for the country to contribute to the EU.

Source: Government of Malta.