Elena Grech

Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta

Dr Elena Grech is Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta. Prior to this, she was Head of Unit responsible for the Czech Republic in the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy at the European Commission in Brussels (March 2013 December 2015); Head of Unit responsible for accession negotiations and implementation of cohesion policy in Candidate Countries within the same Directorate (October 2009 – March 2013); and a legal administrator within the Commission’s Internal Market department dealing with compliance with the Union's public procurement legislation upon joining the Commission in 2007. Dr Grech holds legal qualifications from the University of Malta, including a Diploma of Notary Public and a Degree of Doctor of Laws.

Europe's 60th Birthday

Wednesday 01st March 2017

On 25th March, leaders of the 27 EU member states (UK excluded) will gather in Rome, together with Senior Representatives of the European Institutions, to mark the 60th anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Rome. This treaty, then signed by six countries (the original six member states of the EU) had set up what was then known as the European Economic Coal and Steel Community, which has in the meantime evolved into the European Union.

The timing of this special anniversary is almost Kafkaesque, and will most likely be significantly marked by the fact that the UK, one of the larger member states, will be absent from the symbolic occasion, where leaders will use the opportunity to take stock of the past and reflect on the future. It is therefore not surprising that some are suggesting, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, that Europe is approaching its age of retirement.

In the run up to the meeting in Rome, and in view of the ever-growing anti-EU sentiment, the European Commission published a White Paper outlining possible methods of future cooperation. Should it go on in the same manner? If not, what should change, and how? Is a Europe of various tiers a viable option? How realistic and effective would European solidarity to different degrees be? This Paper is the Commission’s contribution to the discussion on the future of Europe in Rome, where the Heads of Government will also agree on a Declaration marking the importance of the event and hopefully also reaffirm their commitment to the Union.

The UK vote to leave is certainly one of the lowest points in the history of the European Union. And whilst this decision took everybody by surprise, and the shock is only just starting to wane, the wave of popular discontent has certainly not abated yet. This wave however, doesn't seem to stop with Europe, and the election of President Trump in the USA is further evidence of the anti-establishment sentiment that seems to have taken hold at grassroots level in the Western world.

With important elections looming this year in the Netherlands, France and Germany, where the far-right movements are gaining ground and becoming stronger forces to contend with, one would be right to ask what is generating this sense of disillusionment with politicians far and wide? Why is it that the sometimes shocking, xenophobic and even outrageous statements of politicians and would-be national leaders still carry sufficient favour with large numbers of the electorate so as to be serious contenders or even actually get elected to the highest offices in their country?

Politically speaking, Europe, “the greatest peace project which the world has ever seen” (in the words of Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau) seems to be turning on itself. The depressive mood which has come about as a result of the financial and migration crises, the turbulence of the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIS, terrorism, international security threats as well as the spreading of fake news, appears to have dented the natural human sense of optimism and the conviction (proven by 60 years of peace in Europe) that collectively we can do better than individually.

As the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker said in his State of the Union Address to the European Parliament in September 2016, Europe is going through an existential crisis. As humans, we all go through phases in our lives where we question and sometimes dismantle all that we would have hitherto strived so hard to build. I like to compare the difficult period that the Union of Europe is currently facing to such episodes in human lives... those of strong determination, character and will may decide to change direction but still go forward successfully and fulfil their ambitions.

A European Union of 27 will necessarily have to rethink its way forward but, given its difficult birth circumstances, and the test of time that it has survived over the past 60 years, it would perhaps be more appropriate to say that, rather than being on the verge of retirement, this political project is only now coming of age.

Daniel Bugeja

Business Doctor

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Joseph Micallef

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George Mangion

Senior Partner, PKF Malta

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January 2018

At a slow but unrelenting pace, the mood for change in Europe is getting stronger following the BEPS and ATID measures, not to mention the negative publicity from the PANA review.

Paul Bugeja

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December 2017

Now that Valletta 2018 is round the corner, it is satisfying to note that the build-up of marketing towards it has generated a positive effect for the Maltese islands.

Daniel Debono

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2018: A Critical Year For The EU To Deliver

December 2017

When one looks back at President Juncker’s 10 political guidelines that were set at the beginning of his mandate, one concludes that this last Commission programme is a continuation of the work undertaken over the past four years, and aims to complete some of the political projects.

Louis Olivieri

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Corporate Anniversaries – More Than A Reason To Party

December 2017

It pays organisations to capitalise on special occasions with elements which contribute to and/or are compatible with the reasons for their existence and growth path.