Strong level playing field provisions are required in the final agreement –Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi
The General Affairs Council of the European Union has today agreed on a new mandate for the European Commission to commence negotiations with the United Kingdom on a future trade agreement between the two parties.
During the meeting, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi stressed the importance of “having strong level playing field provisions in the final agreement between the EU-UK so that competition is not distorted.” He also highlighted the importance of preparedness, particularly, whether other preparedness exercises are needed across the Union covering every eventuality, should these negotiations fail.
On the recent communication by the European Commission regarding future enlargement, the Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds remarked that Malta acknowledges that reform is needed to make the European Union more effective. However, the recent postponement of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia has dented the credibility of the European Union. This is particularly evident in view that these two countries have undertaken the required reforms to reach this stage. He stated that Malta supports this new merit-based approach nonetheless and hopes that Albania and North Macedonia will be able to start their journey to EU accession following the publication of the country reports.
The General Affairs Council discussed the preparations for the March European Council which is expected to focus primarily on economic matters and the digital sector. The future enlargement process and the EU’s relationship with China, ahead of the EU-China Summit, will also be on the leader’s agenda for the March European Council. In this regard, Parliamentary Secretary Zrinzo Azzopardi highlighted the EU-Africa strategy that Malta has recently launched for consultation. He said that this strategy could serve as a “concrete inspiration for a more ambitious engagement, which builds bridges and breaks away from an exclusively aid-driven approach to engage effectively through trade, development and diplomacy.”