PRESS RELEASE BY THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIAT FOR THE EU PRESIDENCY 2017 AND EU FUNDS: Parliamentary Secretary Ian Borg addresses the Forum on Outermost Regions in Brussels

The Parliamentary Secretary said during his address that Malta, being a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean, can relate to the challenges of these regions since these territories share similar challenges especially in terms of remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate, economic dependence on a few products, amongst other challenges which severely restrain their development. Malta believes islands and insular regions require specific attention to ensure adequate and effective responses in order to address their specific challenges. Dr Borg reiterated that the Maltese Presidency aims to promote the reality of islands in the EU and to place the challenges faced by these islands at the centre of the European Agenda.

Parliamentary Secretary Borg highlighted that the Maltese Presidency is working closely with the Committee of the Regions to identify possible solutions in order to promote entrepreneurship and boost the economic and social developments of island regions. The opinion drafted by the Committee of the Regions notes that while entrepreneurship plays an essential role in job creation and economic vitality, island entrepreneurship faces specific structural difficulties. Furthermore, it notes that the additional costs borne by island entrepreneurs, precisely because of their geographic location, constrain the competitiveness of products and services. He also emphasised that the Maltese Presidency requested the European Economic and Social Committee to draft an opinion aimed to analyse the challenges faced by islands and to propose possible solutions which can effectively enable islands to participate in the European economy.

Dr Borg made reference to the Single Market as one of its Presidency priorities. He noted that the free movement of persons, goods and services between outermost regions and continental Europe still brings challenges in the daily life of citizens living in these regions. In this regard, further steps are needed to ensure that outermost regions acquire full access to the single market, which is the Union’s greatest asset. Dr Borg believes that the Digital Single Market can positively contribute towards ensuring digital territorial continuity and free movement of virtual services, thus helping outermost regions mitigating some of the negative effects of their remoteness.

“The recognition of the challenges of islands and outermost regions in EU policy making in a horizontal manner is necessary to ensure a more cohesive Europe”, concluded Dr Ian Borg.

Source: Government of Malta