With the EP elections just around the corner, what would you consider your primary achievements to have been during this legislature, in relation to business?
One accomplishment which I am very proud of is a new draft EU law which will ensure further opportunities for Maltese businesses. This law will allow for providers of online platforms and search engines to implement a set of measures in the contractual relations they have with online businesses. The main objective is to ensure transparency and fairness with retailers, hotels, restaurants and businesses which make use of such online platforms to sell and provide their services to customers in the EU. I have been working hand-in-hand with the Malta Business Bureau to achieve the best possible outcomes for businesses and workers.
What do you feel are the main challenges and opportunities faced by local business within the current climate? What can be done, on a political level, to help businesses overcome them?
After holding a meeting with a delegation of Maltese business leaders and listening to concerns from stakeholders, it becomes apparent that from a business side, challenges are mainly due to the mismatch of skills. Businesses are in need of fair and transparent conditions, especially when it comes to online platforms, which are the main communication points enabling businesses and customers to make contact. I believe that we, policy-makers, have not only an opportunity but also a responsibility to act on existing legislation and improve the situation. In fact, I am currently working on the company law package being discussed in the Committee on Legal Affairs.
What do you consider to be the primary effects of the Maltese Presidency on your work within the EP? What do you hope to see from the new Presidency?
During the Maltese Presidency, Malta managed to attract more attention towards the strengthening of small- and medium-sized enterprises. I have sought to represent Malta’s small business community at the EP, determined to communicate the difficulties and concerns of people working in this sector. Malta, as well as the EU as a whole, needs to mobilise and set incentives for all sources of investment, public and private, ensuring SME access to capital. The next Presidency should be looking at promoting these issues whilst encouraging public-private partnerships, innovation, transparency and fair competition.
How do you see the upcoming election unfolding?
I would like to see the upcoming election unfolding on the basis of people understanding that irrespective of whatever political opinion they may have about local issues, the EU makes a significant difference in matters pertaining to our daily lives, on issues that determine how we can enjoy and benefit from new opportunities in the future, and how we can rise to new challenges. On that basis, people need to recognise the need to vote and choose whomever they consider can best represent us within the EP in a competent and honest manner.
What should Malta’s political and legislative priorities be for the upcoming EP term?
There are various issues which Malta should focus on, such as creating fair, transparent and innovative business strategies. Add to this improving working conditions, focusing on health issues, increased funding for research, agriculture and seeking further growth for the business sector by being able to tap into the opportunities that should intensify through our membership of the EU and knowing how to maximise those benefits. Malta has registered the highest satisfaction rate within the EU, and that in itself augurs well.
This interview was originally published in Business Agenda