05 FEBRUARY 2003

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What the European ambassadors think

Malta's attractions as an investment target to be enhanced with accession

In the second of a four part series, British High Commissioner Vincent Fean replies to questions posed to ambassadors from EU member states on the pros and cons of Malta’s EU membership bid. Fean is confident that EU accession for Malta would serve to promote the Islands as a more attractive destination for foreign direct investment from the UK and other EU member states.

How does the UK view Malta’s entry into the EU?
British High Commissioner Vincent Fean Very positively. Malta/UK co-operation within the European Union would add a new dimension to our relationship, which is already so strong and deep. The United Kingdom has championed the cause of enlargement in the EU, and has played its part in ensuring that the outcome of the Copenhagen European Council was the best attainable for Malta. Malta's accession adds value to the European Union.
Will Malta’s decision on EU accession have an impact on investment from the UK?
Maltese accession would improve the prospects for further UK investment here. A clear decision is needed and it is good that the period of uncertainty will end soon. Malta's many attractions as an investment target would be enhanced by accession, with guaranteed access to the expanded EU market, the benefit of the EU's preferential trade agreements with third countries - including those of North Africa and the Levant - and full participation in the EU's Structural Funds and Research and Development Framework Programme - to name just a few positive aspects.
The EU is a good environment for the creation of the high quality, high value-added jobs that Malta seeks for the University/MCAST graduates and the school-leavers of tomorrow. I also believe that EU membership would help improve the environment, including the working environment, as more weight would be given to workers' health and safety.

How would investment from the UK fare in the future should Malta choose not to join the EU?
It is important to distinguish between current and prospective investors. No British investors have told me that they would scale back their operations here if Malta declines the offer to join the EU.
But I believe there would be an opportunity lost in terms of foregoing the chance to attract additional investors, including those from the UK. I see Malta attracting more new investment by adhering to the standards and norms of the EU than by deliberately diverging from them.

How would Malta’s relationship with the UK change with accession?
I can see no downside for our bilateral relationship from EU accession, only positive developments. The EU is a natural extension of the UK's domestic policies and way of life. As a government, we talk far more intensively and frequently with our EU partners than with anyone else, with the exception of the United States.
If Malta joined the EU, there would be even more for the UK and Malta to talk about and work on together than there is already. And there is a certain affinity of mind-set, which would make those talks productive and mutually beneficial.
Next week Italian Ambassador Dott. Alvise Memmo gives
his views

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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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