10 APRIL 2002
EU Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer confirmed that the EU Commisssion is proposing to the EU Council that Malta, like other prospective EU candidate countries, should definitely not become a net contributor to the EU budget for the first few years, implying that Malta will not lose out financially from EU accession.
The confirmation came about following a request by Dr Arnold Cassola, Alternattiva Demokratika Spokesperson on EU Affairs and Secretary General of the European Federation of Green Parties.
Our sister paper, MaltaToday, had revealed two months ago that a rough estimate for Malta's EU contributions for 2004 should amount to some EUR45-50 million and that this would be calculated on a percentage of Malta's collected VAT, Malta's GDP and customs duties.
This figure was confirmed in the Working Document No. 2 on the financial implications of EU enlargement published by the European Parliament Committee on Budgets on 13 March, which puts Malta's 2004 contribution at 51 million Euros.
The figures mentioned in Working Document No. 2 do not take into account the money to be received by Malta or Maltese citizens through structural and cohesion funds, rural and development funds and various other programmes for research, Small and Medium Enterprises.
EU Commissioner Schreyer insisted that the EU Commission is aware of the interests of the candidate countries and, balancing these with those of current member states, it is proposing to the EU Council of Ministers a transitional arrangement for budgetary compensations for new member countries like Malta in order to ensure financial fairness.
Dr Cassola, speaking on behalf of Alternattiva Demokratika, expressed his satisfaction at this reassurance and reiterated with Commissioner Schreyer, AD's views that EU membership should serve to render the Maltese society a more socially and environmentally just one.
Michaele Schreyer said that through accession to the Union, Malta will not only be safeguarded against losing out financially, but it will also gain both politically and economically.
"It is clear", Dr Cassola explains, "that because of EU membership Maltese citizens, associations, Small and Medium sized Enterprisess, Non-Governmental Organisations and others will be eligible for access to programmes and funds which are not accessible to non EU members".