The first MEUSAC Core Group meeting for 2018 discussed the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2018, which aims to complete the work on the 10 priorities of the Juncker Commission, and the Bulgarian Presidency priorities.
Dr Elena Grech, Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta, gave an in-depth presentation on the 2018 Work Programme.
The programme has two main objectives: to continue to adopt legislation falling under the 10 Juncker priorities; and initiatives on the future of Europe.
Dr Grech also referred to the drive by the Commission to remove superfluous EU laws and rules that could be dealt with better at national level. “It’s up to national governments to see to such issues as one “couldn’t harmonise everything,” she said.
She also spoke about the Commission’s reflection papers on the Future of Europe and mentioned how MEUSAC organised a string of events on the refection papers late last year to stimulate a national debate. She also spoke about the fact that eventually, Malta will not benefit from EU funds in the same way it is doing now in the context of the current discussions on the Multiannual Financial Framework after 2020.
Dr Vanni Xuereb, Head of MEUSAC, said that “we have to get used to the fact that certain funding streams will end in time but that there are plenty more available”.
Parliamentary Secretary Dr Aaron Farrugia spoke of the fact that Europe is actually on the mend, referring to the term ‘Euro-optimism’.
“The exciting time for Europe is nearing once again,” he said. He also said that more public dialogues, which will be led by MEUSAC, will take place on a national level.
“The time has come for Malta to have a strong voice at a time when the EU is at a crossroads,” he continued.
Minister for European Affairs and Equality Dr Helena Dalli said that we need to put the spotlight on the EU as the new budgetary period nears, referring to Malta’s strong economy and low unemployment levels that put Malta in a good position to contribute to the discussion on Europe.
She said that ministries are currently giving their feedback on the post-2020 EU budget so that Malta can form a position which would reflect the interests of all the stakeholders involved.
A discussion also took place on the programme and priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU for the first six months of this year. the priorities of this presidency are: the Future of Europe and Young People, the Western Balkans, the Digital Economy and Security and Stability in a Strong and United Europe.
Members raised a number of issues, including the discussion on the Rule of Law in the European Economic and Social Committee, crypto currencies, the dumping of workers, the impact of Brexit, and EU funds for Gozo post-2020.