In the current circumstances, the two overarching objectives and priorities of our Presidency are to ensure the long term sustainability of the Union, and to restore belief in the European project, said the Minister whilst speaking during the Malta EU Pre-Presidency Conference held today.
The Minister for European Affairs and Implementation of the Electoral Manifesto said that recent events especially the tough financial upheavals, migration, security, terrorism and Brexit have traumatised the European Union. These have contributed to a large degree to the re-emergence of extreme nationalism, protectionism, xenophobic and geo-political tensions, he continued.
Minister Grech stated that at this delicate moment in time of Europe’s history, one must focus on the issues that address the legitimate concerns and expectations of the European citizens that cause the citizens to lose confidence in the Union. He said that Europe needs to address concretely the uncertainty, fear and inequalities felt by its citizens.
He reiterated that the Dutch, Slovak and Maltese Presidencies are guided by five pillars which are aligned with the EU’s Strategic Agenda. These areas include jobs, growth and competitiveness; empowerment and protection for all citizens; energy union and a forward-looking climate policy; freedom, security and justice; and the Union as a strong global actor. Minister Grech outlined that the priorities of the Maltese Presidency fit into these baskets.
On Brexit, he stated that once Article 50 is activated, a pragmatic approach to negotiations should be adopted, that should lead to fair, clear and swift solutions which address the complex realities.
The Minister remarked that the Malta Summit in February will continue the reflection that has started in Bratislava, and prepare for the 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. This should be an occasion to find a new momentum and a platform to rebuild trust in the European project in a viable and sustainable way right in the middle of the Maltese Presidency, he said.
He also quoted today’s edition of the EurActiv, where they wrote that the Maltese Presidency is gearing up for the perfect storm. He said that admittedly the challenges are sensitive and complex, however with the right leadership, sense of vision and in-built flexibility the European ideal will face its challenges successfully and withstand the test of time.
Minister Grech concluded that there is no other option for Europe to turn these setbacks experienced during these extraordinary difficult times into potential and viable outcomes for the future of the European project.