Social partners give Yes
vote two thumbs up
Maltas business oriented social partners have given
the Yes vote in Saturdays referendum an unconditional
two thumbs up. Although the endorsement of the positive vote would come
a no surprise, as the bodies concerned had already voiced their approval
for Maltas European Union accession, the endorsement is nevertheless
surely welcome by the pro-membership camp.
Speaking to The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday, Malta
Employers Association President Paul De Battista described the
referendum result as clear and not open to interpretations. He also
appealed for calm from the public in light of the mixed messages emerging
from Maltas two main political rivals.
He told this newspaper yesterday, "As far as we [the MEA] are concerned,
the referendum result was clear and is not open to different interpretations.
As an association, we are in favour of European Union accession for
the benefit of all. After all, everyone wants what is best for themselves
and the country. It is our conviction that EU accession is in the countrys
Likewise, the Malta Chamber of Commerce expressed its satisfaction that
the majority of Maltese voted in favour of EU membership. The result
was in line with opinions expressed by Chamber members during a survey
carried out by the Chamber in January.
According to the Chamber, "In the interest of business and the
countrys economic progress, it is vital that the parties across
the entire political spectrum recognise the will of the people as determined
in this democratic process. Local economic development has been hampered
for some time by the country's unclear direction in its relations with
"The Chamber now expects that the Referendum result will serve
its purpose of acting as the first instrument to eliminate, or at least
reduce, this uncertainty. Entrepreneurs, investors and indeed, workers
in the country require an unequivocal sense of direction in order to
contribute towards increased prosperity for the nation."
The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association also welcomed the result.
It explains, "For various reasons the members of the MHRA were,
in their vast majority, in favour of our Islands joining the European
Union. In fact, on many occasion the Association stated that the alternative
of staying out of the EU would be harmful to the tourism industry.
"It is with the backing of all the studies carried out by the MHRA
on the subject that the Association welcomes the referendum result wherein
over 53 per cent of the people that voted on the issue have expressed
their wish for our Island to join the EU. The MHRA believes that there
is no room for interpretation of the result and the majority decision
should be unequivocally accepted."
The MHRA has urged the political parties to accept the result and actively
work towards getting the Islands back to normal.
According to the MHRA, "Malta needs direction, certainty and a
renewed determination to work on the problems at hand within a calm
and focused atmosphere. This national issue has been resolved and it
is critically important for all Maltese to unite, away from politics,
and work towards making our Island economically strong. One of the most
positive aspects of the recent referendum campaign was the joint effort
put up by the majority of the constituted bodies working towards a common
goal for the good of the nation. The MHRA sincerely hopes that this
united effort will continue to be practised on many other issues in
"The MHRA also augers that the tourism industry will be given the
attention and support it needs within the Islands new European
context so as to enable the investors and the 40,000 families that depend
on this industry to prosper in the years ahead."
The Malta Federation of Industry, meanwhile, described the referendum
result as a result for the best interest of the members of the Federation,
most of whom have stated that EU membership would be beneficial to their
The FOI has urged the political parties to bring an end to the uncertainty
that has prevailed over the last few weeks.
The FOI explains, "An unwarranted prolongation of the situation
will benefit no one as the whole country will be the loser. This
is why the FOI is pleased that the Prime Minister has decided to call
the general elections for the 12th April 2003. Such elections should
put to rest any lingering doubts on Maltas future direction.
"The FOI also believes that once the elections are over, the social
partners - Government, employers and the unions - should settle down
to start removing the many existing problems of competitiveness that
industry is facing.
"United efforts of all the social partners are also needed if Malta
is to gear itself to derive all possible benefits from EU membership,
both in the remaining fourteen months prior to accession and, even more
so, in the years that will follow."