06 August 2003

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FOI meets MLP spokesperson for EU Affairs

An FOI delegation led by President Anton Borg has met the MLP spokesperson for EU Affairs Evarist Bartolo to discuss Malta’s membership of the EU and its effects on industry. The FOI side explained how it had come out publicly in favour of EU membership on the basis of information gathered, analysis of results of various reports commissioned for the Federation and a survey conducted a year ago amongst members.
The FOI President emphasised that at no stage had the Council overlooked the need for industry to compete and for the government to help it achieve this target by reducing bureaucratic procedures, reducing taxation and striving for much more increased efficiency in the public sector.
The FOI side acknowledged the fact that the adjustment period in the initial years after membership could present some challenges for the country and for certain sectors of industry. In the long-term the FOI was sure that EU membership should be to the country’s benefit. The FOI side outlined the challenges that in its opinion had to be faced squarely independently of EU membership in the coming years. In particular, the FOI saw current problems in the public financial agenda as the main hurdles: an increasing borrowing requirement, a higher percentage of revenue going to service the national debt and a widening gap in the deficit. These problems had to be tackled even independently of Malta’s decision to proceed to EU membership. However, industry was keen to see Government tackling these successfully, because a certain measure of success for industry depended on the results achieved.
The FOI side expressed its satisfaction that the Malta Labour Party had removed its opposition to EU membership and had on various occasions since the holding of General Elections clearly stated that it was going to work so that the country would get maximum benefit from membership. The FOI side added that the parties also needed to find common ground on the austerity measures that are needed to bring public spending on social benefits, health and public employment, under control.
The FOI pointed out the benefits to the economy of evaluating legislation by an assessment of the economic impact. This system already operated in a number of member states. The two sides agreed that there should be a series of meetings on specific topics with various spokespersons of the party and with the leadership.
Deputy President Adrian Bajada, Vice President Joseph Pace and Director General Edwin Calleja accompanied the FOI President to the meeting.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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