16 APRIL 2003

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Future of MIC uncertain

The future of the Malta EU Information Centre remains uncertain and while its head Dr Simon Busuttil feels there is an even greater role for the centre, no official decision has been taken.
It is expected that a decision on MIC could be taken in the coming days, following Prime Minister Dr Eddie Fenech Adami’s signing of the EU Accession Treaty today.
It is expected that the Prime Minister will discuss the future of MIC with Malta’s Foreign Minister Dr Joe Borg.
Busuttil told The Malta Financial and Business Times that, "now more than ever will the role of MIC be important, as Malta’s direction is clear and people will be needing help on EU related issues."
Dr Busuttil has a contract that expires at the end of the month, and Busuttil confirmed he will not be asking for it to be renewed.

MIC deputy head Edward Demicoli told The Malta Financial and Business Times that yesterday saw an upsurge in requests for information about EU funding and other matters such as labelling from the business community.
"Up until the referendum we were swamped with requests, but between the referendum and the elections and especially in the last few days, the number of requests reduced to a trickle."
"We were closed Monday, but today I had to deal with 25 requests in the first three hours of the morning. People want to know what will have to change."
Malta will have to change rather dramatically in certain spheres.
"Malta will have to comply with the terms of the Acquis Communitaire. There is the National Plan for the Adoption of the Acquis which Malta will be following. In the coming months the plan that has been drawn up to decide how EU funds will be spent and the rural development plan, for example will have to be completed, Demicoli said.
In the unlikely event that the MIC office is disbanded, all the employees will not lose their jobs as they are employed by the Foreign Ministry.
It will be interesting to follow the Malta Labour Party’s reactions to MIC in the coming months, should it change its stand on the EU, as is expected. The Labour Party was highly critical of the Malta EU Information Centre that it accused of bias.
EU Delegation Office
Until Malta becomes an EU member the Office of the EU Delegation in Malta will continue its role of go-between between Brussels and the Malta government as well as fulfilling its functions both as a monitoring body and as a provider of information on the EU.
Come 1 May the Delegation will be disbanded, and an EU representation office will be set up. The office will then become an internal EU office rather than the external one it has been so far.
It is the custom for the head of the representation to be a citizen of the EU member-state, so a Maltese will, in all probability, be chosen by the EU Commission. The members of the representation will no longer have diplomatic status, and all the officials of the Delegation including Ambassador Ronald Galimore are expected to leave the Islands.
After 1 May the representation office will continue to act as a communication centre between Malta and Brussels, and will provide information about the EU, but the monitoring aspect will no longer be in place.
The EU will also set up a European Parliament office in Malta, which is expected to be functioning on 1 May.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
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