Dr Ian Borg: Concern that the EU has not done enough to attend to the priorities of citizens

The Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds and the 2017 Presidency, Ian Borg, has argued for greater flexibility within the EU’s budgetary rules in order to allow for measures which better address the concerns of citizens.

The Parliamentary Secretary said this at a meeting of the General Affairs Council in Brussels yesterday, where ministers reviewed the EU’s budgetary framework for the 2014-2020 periods, known as the Multi-Annual Financial Framework. Dr Borg noted Malta’s concern that the EU has not done enough to attend to the priorities of citizens, stating that “the crises of recent years have clearly highlighted the need to increase the capacity and flexibility of the financial resources we have at our disposal”. He added that bringing the EU closer to its citizens is of the utmost importance to the Government and that this will be an underlying theme to Malta’s work during its upcoming Presidency of the Council of the EU.

During the meeting ministers also discussed the European Commission’s recent Letter of Intent for its 2017 Work Programme. The Parliamentary Secretary stated that Malta looks forward to continuing regular coordination and consultations with the European Commission in this regard. Dr Borg also stated that managing the challenges posed by migration will feature as an absolute priority for Malta. He stated that while a lot has already been done, the EU is still far from producing the tangible results which citizens expect to see.

The Parliamentary Secretary stated that it is clear that the Central Mediterranean migratory route has once again become an area of specific concern, adding that the EU should step-up interaction with Egypt as a partner and interlocutor in preventing the loss of life which is taking place. He went on to say that it is now more important than ever to implement the measures agreed to at last year’s Valletta Summit on Migration, adding that Malta looks forward to the presentation of a report by the High Representative, Federica Mogherini in October.

The Parliamentary Secretary also expressed Malta’s support for a comprehensive discussion on the future of the EU’s trade policies, noting that a balanced approach must be taken which addresses the concerns of citizens, while ensuring that Europe remains open for business with the world.