Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, together with other EU member state leaders, endorsed a new Brexit deal at the European Council in Brussels.

The Prime Minister stated he was satisfied with the deal, which demonstrates flexibility and goodwill on both sides, and defines a temporary mechanism replacing the backstop in Northern Ireland. This will allow the Northern Ireland assembly to decide whether to continue implementing the protocol four years after the transition period.

The Prime Minister said European leaders still need to consider next steps if the British Parliament rejects the deal on Saturday.

Discussions also focused on enlargement, with the European Council failing to agree on the opening of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, opting to take more time to make that decision early next year.

The Prime Minister expressed his regret at this failure, and said this deals a blow to the credibility of the European Union when dealing with partners, especially in sensitive regions such as the Balkans.

President elect of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, presented her work programme to the European leaders. The Prime Minister made particular reference to the focus on the New Green Deal, stating that climate related issues are not only environmental in nature, but are essentially economic and even social. He said that while new tools, including fiscal ones, can be considered, these should not hit socially deprived groups in a disproportionate manner.

The European Council also held an exchange of views on the European Union’s Multi Annual Financial Framework.

Source: Office of the Prime Minister