The Malta Chamber holds its 2023 Annual General Meeting

Over 85% of the members are satisfied with the membership and would recommend The Malta Chamber to other businesses and professionals.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Tuesday 28th March 2023. This AGM saw the end of a two-year term of office of President Marisa Xuereb while initiating The Malta Chamber Council elections to appoint 18 council members.

“Hand on heart, I feel that I have fulfilled my brief of seeing the renewal process of The Malta Chamber through, to such an extent that I believe that the energy that drives the organisation today gives it the required dynamism to aim higher for many years to come,” said President Marisa Xuereb in her opening speech. She added that The Malta Chamber’s model of governance is built on the principle of constant renewal through two-year terms of office that provide people with the impetus to get things done quickly while allowing for new energy and fresh ideas to come in every couple of years.

President Xuereb said that “The challenge for The Malta Chamber is to persevere through systematically pushing the priorities one by one over the course of the current legislation. I am confident we have the required credibility, a track record of transparency, integrity, accountability and consistency, and the right people on board to do this.”

Addressing those present, President Xuereb said “we stand on the shoulders of giants who have shaped the commercial, economic and social development of Malta leading a national business organisation that is unique in its legal status, history, influence and impact. I pass on the baton fully conscious of the honour and privilege I enjoyed in leading The Malta Chamber, satisfied that I have led with the required passion and conviction, and confident that The Malta Chamber will continue to be Malta’s leading business representative body.”

The Malta Chamber invited Minister for Finance and Employment, Clyde Caruana, to give an economic and financial update on the local and international scene. Minister Caruana spoke about the impact of high energy prices in Europe, the war in Ukraine, renewable energy and tax harmonisation. Minister Caruana said that for our country to continue to grow we need to focus more on talent, quality and greener initiatives to our economy. He said that “as a country, we are projecting a deficit that is lower than 5% but higher than 4% by end of year.” He added that the EU is pushing to increase energy prices for those who are still using fossil fuels and a major reform in tax harmonisation by end of 2025 and to start reining in fiscal deficits in 2024.  Minister Caruana concluded that in the coming months the country will see an overhaul of the inland revenue department and stressed the importance for every entrepreneur to pay the taxes due.  

Dr Marthese Portelli, The Malta Chamber CEO, outlined the work that has been done during the past year. Dr Portelli highlighted that over 85% of the members are satisfied with the membership and would recommend The Malta Chamber to other businesses and professionals. Dr Portelli gave an overview of the policy, projects and communications efforts and events that were held in the past year and the upcoming ones. “Our targets for the coming year will focus on prioritising the quality and member value for our members. All this will be accompanied by the continuous work and policy lobbying with government authorities, and European and international counterparts,” said The Malta Chamber CEO.

Towards the end of the AGM, Karen Spiteri Bailey, accountant at The Malta Chamber, presented the financial statements of The Malta Chamber for 2022. After her intervention, President Marisa Xuereb launched the electoral process for the council members to be elected. For this election, 21 candidates contested out of which four are female.

The Malta Chamber AGM was also addressed by Vladimír Dlouhý, President of Eurochambres and Fredrik Persson, President of BusinessEurope.

MBB-Deloitte Event Discusses Revised EU Building Rules

Trialogue negotiations shall now begin to agree on a final text and adopt the proposal. Interested parties are invited to contact the Malta Business Bureau with any queries.

The Malta Business Bureau (MBB) and Deloitte Malta organised a business event focusing on the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The EPBD is an EU legislation which governs the energy efficiency standards which buildings must adhere to.

The EU is aiming to revise the current EPBD to bring it further in line with the heightened climate ambition of the EU Green Deal. Some of the most notable proposals include measures addressing the renovation and retrofitting of existing buildings, while also supplying a framework to have new buildings qualifying as zero emission. The final goal is to have a zero-emission building stock by 2050.

Opening the event MBB President Alison Mizzi commented, “the European Commission notes that buildings in the EU account for 40% of final energy consumption, and 36% of all energy-related greenhouse gases. These figures cannot be ignored. The revised directive is addressing this by putting forward measures for both new and existing buildings. New buildings will need to classify as zero-emission potentially as early as 2028. For existing buildings, the initial focus is being placed on the worst performing buildings in the national stock, which will have to be renovated to meet higher performance standards every few years. This means that businesses should assess their current building performance, look into available funding support, and plan improvements accordingly.”

In his speech, Minister for Public Works and Planning Hon. Dr. Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi stated that “improvements in the energy performance of our buildings will be a qualitative leap in the real estate sector and will contribute to improved quality of our building stock and the wellbeing of our citizens.”

An overview of the revised EPBD, as well as the outcomes of an MBB-Deloitte joint report into the local implications of this proposal was presented by MBB Manager EU Policy (Sustainability) Gabriel Cassar. Mr. Cassar highlighted how the definition of zero-emission buildings being pushed by the proposed revision would not be implementable in the local context due to geographic limitations and building characteristics.

Representing Deloitte, Director (Financial Advisory) Matthew Xuereb discussed the significant investment effort needed to achieve the goals of the revised EPBD. Mr. Xuereb then presented several innovative financing schemes which could be created to support investments in the renovation and retrofitting of commercial buildings.

The Malta Chamber CEO Dr. Marthese Portelli, MHRA Representative Ing. Patrick Spiteri Staines, and Building & Construction Authority Chief Officer Antoine Bartolo took part in a panel discussion moderated by MBB CEO Joe Tanti. The speakers focused on how the revised EPBD could be properly implemented locally. Great emphasis was placed on the need to adopt an ambitious approach towards the new standards, while also stepping up enforcement measures by authorities. Bridging the financing gap and ensuring that existing support schemes are attractive to businesses was also highlighted as crucial to enable the green transition.

Both the European Parliament and Council of Ministers have issued their respective positions on the revised EPBD. Trialogue negotiations shall now begin to agree on a final text and adopt the proposal. Interested parties are invited to contact the Malta Business Bureau with any queries.

Step Up and Clean Up For Real

The political price of shenanigans at the highest institutions of the country is ultimately paid by the country as a whole, multiple times over.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry appeals to the political class to take note of the serious repercussions of poor standards of governance and unethical behaviour by politicians that are currently coming to the fore.

Persons in public office need to be mindful of the fact that, irrespective of their right to a private life, when unethical behaviour becomes public knowledge, their position in public office becomes untenable. This is why persons in public office should strive to maintain high standards of behaviour in both their public as well as their private life.

The Malta Chamber is disappointed at the handling of the current crisis of standards in public life, which is allowing the country to go through another spiral of reputational damage. This is extremely unfair on the many politicians and private citizens who abide by high ethical standards and continue to work hard in the best interests of the country. Reputational damage hurts international business prospects and the livelihood of many. It makes a mockery of the country in international fora and reinforces poor ethical standards among upcoming generations.

The political price of shenanigans at the highest institutions of the country is ultimately paid by the country as a whole, multiple times over. It is high time the highest authorities of the country step up and clean up for real.

HSBC Malta clocks in for Earth Hour 2023

Earth Hour is held every year on the last Saturday of March and this year HSBC Malta will be joined by supporters of the initiative from more than 190 countries and territories.

HSBC Bank Malta will once again join other HSBC Group sites around the world to mark Earth Hour.

All lights at the HSBC Malta Operations Centre in Qormi, its Head Office in Valletta and the HSBC Global Services Contact Centre in Swatar will be switched off for an hour, between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on Saturday 25th March.

HSBC has been a firm and active supporter of the Earth Hour movement since its inception in 2009. Earth hour is a symbolic event to show our collective support for the planet and to raise awareness of the environmental issues affecting it.

Earth Hour is held every year on the last Saturday of March and this year HSBC Malta will be joined by supporters of the initiative from more than 190 countries and territories.

Earth hour serves as an important reminder that we should all think twice about unsustainable consumption practices and that we should do our part to bringing about positive change.

The theme of this year’s Earth Hour is #BiggestHourForEarth, and in addition to switching the lights off at HSBC buildings, the bank will also be encouraging its employees and the public to switch off at the same time and spend an hour doing something positive for the planet.

Whether its picking up litter at a public park or cooking a more sustainable meal, there is always something we can do to help.

Simon Vaughan Johnson, CEO of HSBC Bank Malta, said: “As a responsible corporate entity, HSBC Malta recognises the importance of taking action on climate change. We are proud to join Earth Week and reaffirm our commitment to promoting sustainable practices that will benefit our environment, our communities and our economy.”

A crisis-proof Single Market


This year marks the 30th anniversary since the establishment of the European Single Market, the crown jewel of the European project providing freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and people. To many, the Covid-19 pandemic might already seem like a distant memory, but as the focus has now shifted to other priorities such as the War in Ukraine and the energy crisis, it is very important to learn the lessons from the disruption brought in the free movement of goods by the global pandemic and draw up a policy framework to address similar situations in the future. To this effect, the European Commission recently proposed the Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI).

SMEI is made up of three main pillars and focuses on contingency planning, a vigilance mode, and an emergency mode. Contingency planning would do everything possible to cushion the impact of a future crisis of a similar magnitude. A vigilance mode is a six-month temporary measure that would be enacted by the European Commission if following an assessment on the potential impact of the crisis, certain criteria are met. This may lead to the creation of a list of goods and services of strategic importance to be prioritised as well as monitoring actions to ensure their supply. An emergency mode would be activated by the EU member states and would also be applicable for a maximum duration of 6 months. This would require Member States to notify crisis-relevant information on free movement restrictions and certain crisis-response procedures which would enable products, designated as crisis-relevant goods to be placed swiftly on the market in an emergency context.

Crisis preparedness is always a positive initiative and therefore the SMEI is in principle welcome. But at the same time, it is very important that the framework, which is designed for extraordinary situations, is clear on the criteria that would stipulate its application and do not create unproportional burdens to stakeholders such as businesses, and in particular SMEs, in its implementation. Businesses require clear guidelines as to what is expected from them and while understanding the challenges for public authorities during crisis management, one must also be sensitive on requirements imposed on companies as they would also be undergoing a sensitive time and where they may not have the necessary resources to fully comply.

Some concrete examples of added burdens to businesses as proposed within the SMEI framework include the provisions requiring market operators to answer to information requests on crisis-relevant supply chains in relation to their production capacities and current supply chain disruptions, which can be commercially sensitive. Where businesses are unable to provide information, they are still obliged to provide a justification for the decline of the request. This requirement coupled with the threat of sanctions in the case of breaches, makes the administrative provisions under SMEI unproportional for businesses.

In this light, it would be in fact advisable that businesses and their representatives are given a greater voice within the advisory group that will be established by the European Commission in the context of SMEI to provide direct input on the impact of the crisis.

Additional obligations for companies under SMEI for instance include a requirement to monitor and ramp up the production of strategic reserves. While the objective is understandable one must not underestimate the direct and indirect impact on supply chains. Companies may also be sanctioned for failing to meet obligations. In this case, proportionality is very important, particularly for SMEs, as they have limited resources and ramping up productivity levels might not be realistically possible especially in the very short term.

In conclusion, a Single Market Emergency Instrument is an important step to ensure the seamless functioning of the Single Market during times of crisis and to make it more resilient in such future situations considering the disruptions experienced in the past. Given the direct impact on businesses, it is in everyone’s interest that business representatives are vocal and well consulted by the European Commission in ensuring that unlike the Covid-19 scenario, the free movement, particularly of goods and people remains intact.  Finally, it must be ensured that such crisis mitigation measures are triggered when absolutely necessary, that they are proportional, and non-discriminatory.

Daniel Debono is the EU Affairs Manager and Head of Brussels Operations of the Malta Business Bureau (MBB). The MBB is the EU advisory organisation of The Malta Chamber, and The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Associations. It is also a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network.

This article was first featured on The Malta Business Weekly on 7th March 2023.

Vladimír Dlouhý is the new President of Eurochambres

Vladimír Dlouhý is a Czech economist with business, academic and political experience. As President of Eurochambres, he will advocate for enhanced European competitiveness.

The President of the Czech Chamber of Commerce, Vladimír Dlouhý, has been confirmed as the new President of Eurochambres for the rest of 2023. This follows the resignation of Luc Frieden after being named lead candidate of his political party in Luxembourg in the run-up to the general elections in October.

Vladimír Dlouhý has been a Deputy-President of Eurochambres since 2020. He also chairs the association’s Sustainability Committee, overseeing the European chamber network’s advocacy on key issues related to the Green Deal, Fit for55 and the response to the energy crisis.

As President of Eurochambres, Mr Dlouhý will advocate for enhanced European competitiveness. “We cannot just watch global growth happening outside the EU. Businesses need favourable and predictable framework conditions to operate in Europe and be internationally competitive,” said Mr Dlouhý. “My priority is to ensure that entrepreneurs hit by the energy crisis and other major challenges are able to innovate, invest, employ and trade to drive Europe’s recovery and sustainable growth”, added Mr Dlouhý.

During Eurochambres General Assembly in Stockholm today, outgoing President Luc Frieden reviewed the main challenges and achievements since the start of his mandate in January 2022. Engaging with members on key priorities of the chamber network has been a cornerstone of his presidential tenure, marked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the energy crisis and rising inflation. Mr Frieden emphasised the crucial role of chambers in these difficult times. “With members’ active commitment, I have strived to enable entrepreneurs to capitalise on the opportunities of the EU single market and trade agenda, and to guide businesses through the implementation of the twin transition.”

Vladimír Dlouhý is a Czech economist with business, academic and political experience. He served eight years in the government as the main leader of the Czech economic transformation. He was a Czechoslovak Minister of Economy until 1992 and then the Czech Minister of Industry and Trade. Between 2009 and 2012, he served in the European Advisory Group of the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC. Currently, he is the President of the Czech Chamber of Commerce. Besides that, Mr Dlouhý advises large international companies, he is member of international think-tanks and of the National Economic Council of the Government of the Czech Republic.

The Malta Chamber Annual Report 2022/2023

The Annual Administrative Report of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry

The Malta Chamber celebrates its 175th Anniversary

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry organised a special dinner for its member to celebrate its 175th anniversary.

With over 600 attendees, the event was under the patronage of H.E. Dr George Vella, President of Malta. During the dinner, Dr Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament was also present and addressed attendees before dinner.

The evening started with some refreshing welcome drinks. Following a lavish three-course meal with accompanying wines, members had the opportunity to partake in post-dinner networking drinks with a selection of liquors, a whiskey bar and chocolate.

Main Sponsors: GO Business and Michael Debono Business

Other Sponsors: M&Z plc, FarsonsDirect and M Demajo

The Single Market at 30 – Tackling the EU’s Long-Term Competitiveness

Last week, the European Commission published a Communication commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Single Market and complemented this with a separate Communication setting out the Commission’s long-term view in securing Long-term competitiveness of the EU.

For the past thirty years, the Single Market has celebrated numerous achievements, faced numerous hurdles and today it continues to prevail as an instrumental part of the European Union. In a reaction to this important milestone for the European Single Market, MBB President Alison Mizzi stated that, “There is little doubt that the creation and functioning of the Single Market is one of the greatest achievements of the European Union. The implementation of the four freedoms across such a diverse market is unique and should be celebrated. While still facing numerous challenges and far from being complete, the Single Market empowers European companies to grow and be successful. It is therefore crucial that it is responsive and adaptable to ongoing challenges, including global competitiveness, geopolitical challenges, and the green and digital transitions’’.

Ms. Mizzi added, “Compliance costs and overly complex procedures particularly in the provision of services and capital markets remains prevalent. National protectionism in sectors such as road transport coupled with fragmentation or inefficiencies in other areas such as certification and labelling, do not function in the same way as a Single Market should. We augur that these issues will be truly addressed by these latest initiatives.”

30 years on, the Single Market accounts for 15% of the global GDP and is home to 23 million businesses. Considering the challenges experienced recently, including a global pandemic and a war on the EU’s doorstep, these Communications are built on a forward-looking, competitiveness, adaptability, and collective effort agenda. The latter being the crux of the EU’s plan in coordinating both businesses and policy makers to work together towards ensuring Europe’s perseverance for the next decade and beyond.

While remarking on the successes to date, including the tools and frameworks it has developed and which are key in ensuring the Single Market’s success, the 30th Anniversary Communication acknowledges the urgent need for the Single Market to become more resilient by improving its preparedness in facing current and future crises. The Communication outlines how existing Single Market rules will be enforced whilst continue working on removing barriers as well as fostering the green and digital dimensions of the Single Market.

The Communication on Long-term competitiveness of the EU: looking beyond 2030 lists 9 mutually reinforcing drivers in which the Commission will seek to build a regulatory framework. These cover themes such as environmental sustainability, resilience and stability, wellbeing and fairness, as well as productivity.

An important proposal will be the introduction of a competitiveness check that ensures that the impact assessments of legislative proposals clearly showcase the expected impacts of each proposal on cost and price competitiveness, international competitiveness and the capacity to innovate, and also on SME’s competitiveness. The MBB welcomes this proposal especially as it was an important recommendation emanating from the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The Malta Business Bureau will continue to update the local business community on the various aspects highlighted within these two Communications as well as break down the relevant initiatives and tools included in the two communications.