EU Council presidency: Malta will take a realistic approach
Despite its small size, Malta could have a positive impact on crucial EU dossiers, says Alfred Sant.
Alfred Sant | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual
Malta is the smallest member state of the EU and since becoming a member, this is the first time that it will hold the EU Council presidency. Technically, administratively and politically, the task has rightly been seen in Malta as a big challenge. The government has been preparing for a long time and has worked hard to meet it with success.
I certainly hope that its efforts will be rewarded, and that the Maltese political and administrative system will rise to the occasion and deliver a smooth and efficient operation.
The nature of the task is such that if done badly, everybody will notice; while if done well, everybody will take the outcome for granted.
- Miriam Dalli: Malta ready to set Europe’s pace
- Malta outlines priorities for EU Council presidency
- Europe’s national leaders lack courage of previous political generation, says outgoing EU Parliament chief
However at present, the political situation in Europe has become increasingly complex. Political and economic uncertainty is prevalent with an apparent gridlock of crisis situations. During Malta’s presidency, the UK will present its formal request to exit the EU. Meanwhile, immigration issues remain in an unstable equilibrium, the threats of terrorism persist, the stand-off with Russia shows little sign of resolution – all this against a background of an economic performance in Europe that leaves much to be desired. The radical change in the US administration will be compounding uncertainties.
The Maltese government has made it clear it wants to be realistic in its approach, both because of the wide and deep complexities of the problems that the EU faces; and because Malta’s reach is obviously constrained by its size.
I fully support this approach and believe that if wisely deployed, it could give more significant results, than can be anticipated at present. The Brexit negotiations for instance, will be extremely complex, inclusive of potential deep cleavages, within both the UK and the EU. Ensuring that messages and positions are clearly read and transmitted will be a vital task in creating a context that allows negotiating give and take during the initial period to develop in good faith. Here, the Maltese presidency could have the opportunity to make a very worthwhile contribution.
On two issues that have been on the agenda for quite a while, and which are vital to Maltese interests, I would be very happy to see the Maltese presidency make a positive impact: the emergence of a European common policy that would bring about order, solidarity and a coherent solution to the immigration crisis; a new emphasis on a European policy towards the Mediterranean space, which beyond immigration, should establish clear lines on energy, trade, investment and development cooperation between the north and south of the Middle Sea.
Innovative measures needed to “win the hearts and minds” of citizens, says European Commission chief in State of the Union address.
European regional policy Commissioner Corina Crețu on the importance of cohesion policy, what it will look like in the future, and what Brexit might mean for Europe's regions.
Two years after her decision to welcome thousands of refugees into Germany, Angela Merkel has completely shut the topic out of her electoral campaign, writes Jo Leinen.
TTIP will allow Brussels greater influence in Washington, argues Craig Willy.
Better enforcement of existing provisions, access to information and cooperation between member states are key to ensuring the fair mobility of workers, argues Denis Pennel.
The employment industry is a labour market enabler at the forefront of the changing world of work, writes Denis Pennel.