Article written by Dr Vanni Xuereb, Head of MEUSAC
After having served as a forum by which the social partners and civil society could play an active role in the formulation of the position Malta would assume on various aspects of the acquis (the common rights and obligations binding all Member States) in the EU accession negotiations, MEUSAC was reactivated on July 7, 2008 and entrusted with three main functions: Consultation, Information and EU Funding assistance.
As a Member State, Malta now has its own say in shaping the EU’s policy and laws. The Prime Minister regularly attends European Council meetings (sometimes also referred to as EU Summits) with the leaders of the other Member States. Furthermore, Government ministers participate in EU Council meetings that convene in different configurations depending on the subject being discussed. During the first six months of last year, Malta also successfully presided the Council.
The work of this important institution is also carried out at different levels where several Maltese experts meet with their counterparts from other Member States, paving the way for the Council to take the necessary decisions. MEUSAC plays a vital role in the decision-making process: that of involving the social partners and civil society as much as possible in the shaping of Malta’s position in Council.
Furthermore, for the past five years, prior to his participation in the June and December European Council meetings, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has been attending MEUSAC meetings to discuss the Council agenda and other topical EU issues with the social partners and civil society. MEUSAC also served as a vehicle for the Government to keep stakeholders updated on the preparations for the Maltese Presidency of the Council. The same mechanism has been adopted for the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
As already mentioned, MEUSAC also has two other main functions. The first is that relating to EU information. A complementary aspect of the consultation process is the dissemination of factual information about the EU, the rights and obligations of Malta as a Member State, as well as those of Maltese citizens as EU citizens.
MEUSAC performs this role in several ways including the participation of its officers in television and radio programmes, publishing articles on newspapers and online platforms, through its website (recently revamped), Facebook page and Twitter account, and by organising public activities and events aimed at informing and involving citizens in a debate concerning issues relating to the Union. Currently, MEUSAC is preparing to organise a series of activities, entitled ‘Citizens’ Consultations’, aimed at giving all Maltese citizens the opportunity to have their say about the future of the EU.
MEUSAC’s reactivation occurred when Malta had been a member of the EU for only four years. It was, therefore, important for our country and the various sectors of Maltese society to maximise the opportunities brought about by EU membership. One very effective means of doing so is by tapping into the numerous EU Funding programmes.
Ten years ago, the need was felt for local councils and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to be supported with technical and professional assistance to apply for projects financed or co-financed by EU funds. The assistance that MEUSAC provides on a daily basis consists of furnishing information about EU funding opportunities and, more importantly, by assisting local councils and NGOs in the complicated and daunting task of filling in and submitting the applications.
To date, thanks to this service which is provided at no charge whatsoever, local councils have managed to benefit from more than 20 million euro from EU funds for 139 different projects whereas NGOs benefited from around 12 million euro for 210 projects. In recent years this service has been extended to Government entities with 34 projects worth more than 12 million in total being approved.
This success would not have been possible without the professional work of MEUSAC’s staff over the last decade as well as the trust that our various partners have shown in the services we provide. This Government strongly believes in the importance of MEUSAC so much so it established MEUSAC as a government agency in 2017 and has significantly increased its investment to strengthen MEUSAC’s role in connecting citizens to the EU.« Back