“This government acknowledges the importance of social partners and civil society have in leading the country. I will make sure that you will continue to play a central role in discussions that we will be taking as a government in the economic, social and environment sectors.”
This was the message conveyed by the Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela during his first address to social partners during the MEUSAC Core Group-joint-MCESD meeting which discussed the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, along with the European Commission priorities in the European economic semester.
Minister Abela said the fact that social dialogue falls under the remit of the Office of the Prime Minister confirms that the government aims to give proposals and socio-economic measures presented by social partners more priority than ever before.
In this context, he said that he will see that both MCESD and MEUSAC will be given the resources needed to improve on their services.
During his address, he spoke about the industrial revolution 4.0. which will further bring to the fore technology in our lives.
“We need to work hand in hand to understand the impact this technology could have on workers, businesses and the economy in general. We all have the responsibility to understand how advanced technology such as artificial inteligence (AI) for instance, would do this. He added that there are a number of other topics that are of importance in social dialogue and that will also be given priority, including equal pay and sustainable development in each and every sector.
On today’s topic for discussion, that is the European Semester, Minister Abela highlighted that this provides a base for the coordination of economic politics in the EU as a whole as this process gives Member States the opportunity to discuss economic plans and budgets, while the EU oversees this progress of each Member State every year.
He noted that social partners have requested that an MCESD working group is set up in a bid to ensure that social partners are consulted in the process that leads to the Country Specific Recommendations known as CSRs, as they would like to contribute more in this regard. In order to bring about further collaboration, Ms Alexia Zammit, a representative from the European Commission Representation office in Malta, was invited to today’s meeting to listen and answer to any queries from social partners.
Regarding Brexit, now that the UK is officially not part of the bloc any longer, he said he understands that many are concerned over this fact and how it will impact citizens, businesses and Malta-UK. In this context, Mr Glenn Micallef, Head of Department of the EU Coordination Unit, gave a presentation on the way forward after Brexit, now that Brexit has taken place.
During the meeting, MCESD chairman John Bencini congratulated Minister Abela on his new appointment as Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for social dialogue, sustainable development and implementation of the electoral manifesto. He continued by emphasising the importance of equal pay for equal work and the gender pay gap, which will be given priority during this year’s MCESD discussions. He also thanked Minister Aaron Farrugia and Minister Edward Zammit Lewis for their work in the last few years which helped strengthen social dialogue.
Head of MEUSAC Ms Mandy Falzon highlighted the importance of the European Semester, especially where sustainable economic growth is concerned. She remarked that social partners have an important role to play in the European Semester process.