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?
The mission I set out for myself at the start of this legislature was to contribute to make Europe more innovative and competitive. In a new global economy, developing new sectors and niche markets is essential for the creation of jobs. I can summarise my work over this legislature under two key areas: the Green and the Digital economy. In my work I always set out to focus on creating new opportunities for investment in cleaner technologies. This was amplified further in my work on legislation promoting cleaner vehicles. The future is about clean energy and through this piece of legislation I wanted to ensure that Europe has the right policy framework to shift its resources towards the creation of new, cleaner technologies. This is instrumental towards a more competitive Europe but also to ensure that future generations live in a clean and healthy environment.
In a digital economy, there is a strong need for young individuals to have the necessary support to start their businesses. In collaboration with the Malta Chamber of Commerce and student organisation AEGEE, I launched a policy document to promote young entrepreneurship which was presented to the Maltese Government and the European Commission. A number of these policy measures were also introduced locally, including the Seed Investment Scheme which provides access to finance to startups. I am currently working with a global software player on a project that will seek to ensure that we bridge the gender skills gap in the use of IT.
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?
To be equipped for the challenges of the future, we need to devise a national economic vision. Through this vision, we can align our national resources and in particular our education towards the future. We need to be proactive and ensure that our secondary school education is by design tailored towards gearing our children to the economy of the future.
What do you consider to be the primary effects of the Maltese Presidency on your work within the EP?
We managed to showcase Malta’s abilities in getting things done. We are the smallest member state, however we concluded a number of very important legislations within significantly shorter than average timeframes.
How do you see the upcoming election unfolding?
We need to be united as a nation and stop all attempts to tarnish our country’s reputation. The need for this is often the topic of my meetings with Malta’s business community. We are in agreement that we should all, regardless of our political differences, stand by our country and not give others a field day to create obstacles for our economy.
What should Malta’s political and legislative priorities be for the upcoming EP term?
Migration, fair taxation, the environment and education, to mention a few. Migration and taxation have always been a top priority of successive Maltese Governments at an EU level and this will certainly not change. Malta has become a model country in its success in turning the economy around and reaching record low levels of unemployment. I now believe it is time to start doing more when it comes to sustainable development and the environment.
This interview was originally published in Business Agenda