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 of the main themes throughout my work has been to ensure a level playing-field for Maltese citizens and businesses. It is also why I am proud to have had such a prominent role in the EP’s anti-corruption drive. Corruption is the anti-thesis of good governance and fair business practice, and we must stamp it out.
We have also worked on concrete issues as diverse and important as ending unjustified mobile phone roaming charges; making EU funds accessible; making Malta and Gozo’s voice heard during EU Budget negotiations; having a coherent EU blockchain strategy; putting women’s rights at the forefront of EU policy and making sure Maltese and Gozitan businesses know what to expect with Brexit looming.
This legislature, I drafted the EP’s position on immigration and asylum, which outlined MEPs’ position on one of the most controversial topics being discussed. I was also elected as the EPP’s Coordinator in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, the Vice-President of the Parliament’s Petitions Committee, the Chair of the Asylum Contact Group, as well as heading the Parliament’s groups on RMDs that affect so many Maltese and Gozitans’ health – so it’s been a busy few years!
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?
The need for easier access to finance and reduction of bureaucracy, improved working conditions and pushing back against the tendency towards a one-size-fits-all approach. Maltese and Gozitan businesses also want access to their representatives – and as MEPs, it is essential that we remain in close contact with the business community.
What do you consider to be the primary effects of the Maltese Presidency on your work within the EP?
A number of good accomplishments were achieved, but I would have liked to see more concrete results, particularly on migration and a more successful attempt at changing the one-size-fits-all approach so prevalent across the EU policy spectrum. I must also add that our Presidency was overshadowed by the lack of action by the Prime Minister to address the concerns with Minister Konrad Mizzi before the Presidency, which did not help our credibility.
How do you see the upcoming election unfolding?
I hope to see more candidates who believe in Europe being elected. Malta and Gozo need to have people in the EP who understand the need to protect the single market and who understand the essential role played by the EU in a globalised world.
What should Malta’s political and legislative priorities be for the upcoming EP term?
Malta needs to ensure that whoever is elected is able to coordinate and work together. Perhaps it is not always evident, but the six of us agree on far more than we disagree on. As regards aims for the next years, we need to see a greater focus on migration; leading the digital agenda; ensuring Gozo’s status as a region; funding that is accessible; and protecting the rule of law across the EU. We need to be in as many different committees as possible – it makes no sense to have us all concentrated in the same few committees. We need better representation in committees like those dealing with transport, agriculture, regionality and more.
This interview was originally published in Business Agenda