Malta faces challenges during EU presidency

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http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017–01/07/c_135961840.htm

Malta faces challenges during EU presidency

VALLETTA, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) — On Jan. 1, Malta took over the six-month rotating European Union (EU) presidency for the first time, with analysts warning the country would face enormous challenges during its tenure.

Leading up to the presidency, the Maltese government identified six priorities for the presidency: migration, the single market, security, social inclusion, Europe’s neighbourhood, and maritime. However, analysts pointed out that the issues affecting the EU were not restricted to these concerns.

In June 2016, Brexit sparked a global outcry and there is still much uncertainty surrounding how Britain will leave the EU. Meanwhile, in December, the Italian constitutional referendum led to the resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Furthermore, Donald Trump, a staunch critic of European defense spending, climate change, and free trade, has won the presidency of the United States, which could be problematic for EU officials when he takes office on Jan. 20.

Mark Harwood, director of the Institute for European Studies at the University of Malta, said Brexit negotiations had not yet been resolved domestically, adding to the EU’s uncertainty. At the same time, due to right-wing political parties gaining ground in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, elections in 2017 could become a major concern.

As a former British colony, Malta, and Britain have long enjoyed close relations. The biggest challenge for Malta in the coming months will be to ensure good communication between EU member states and Britain after the start of the Brexit negotiations, Maltese European Parliament member Alfred Sant said.

Roderick Pace, who also works at the University of Malta institute, agreed that Brexit, as well as elections in key EU member states which may change their political direction, were both uncertainties facing the EU. “”It will be important for Malta to strive to facilitate agreement towards resolving these challenges, which are of a longer duration than a single presidency.””

Issues involving refugees and illegal migration will also be an important focus of Malta’s presidency. According to United Nations statistics, in 2016, a record number of around 5,000 illegal immigrants died in the Mediterranean Sea. Referring to Malta in early December last year, European Parliament President Martin Schulz stated that, because of its location on the northern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta had experience in dealing with refugees and could help the EU reach solutions to the migration crisis.

Malta has proposed to strengthen and simplify the Common European Asylum System and to distribute the immigration load between its member states more fairly, in an attempt to revise the Dublin Regulations, which states that the country asylum seekers first set foot in is responsible for them. The Council of the EU has set a deadline for June to revise the Dublin Regulations, but Malta’s home affairs minister Carmelo Abela has said this would be difficult. Malta wants to push for a holistic approach to migration, and is therefore working to complete work in relation to the European External Investment Plan to promote sustainable investment in Africa to tackle the root causes of migration.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told the media that the central Mediterranean would be the focus of security and refugee crisis discussions at a Malta summit to be held in February. At the same time, Malta hopes the EU can play a role in the stabilization of Libya and ensure a democratic transition in Tunisia. The Maltese presidency will also support EU and international efforts to resume the Middle East Peace Process between Israel and Palestine.

In addition, the specter of terrorism has lingered on the continent over the past year and Malta is hoping for significant progress on initiatives to combat terrorism and strengthen the outer borders of Europe. These measures include interoperability solutions for databases used by national law and border management authorities; continuing the fight to end terrorist financing; establishing a system for registering third countries’ citizens at EU borders, as well as the creation of an EU travel information and authorisation system to determine the eligibility of visa-exempt third country nationals traveling to the Schengen Area.

At the same time, Malta will also work to promote maritime security, with top priority given to reviewing maritime security strategies and migration flows. It is understood that Malta will make a proposal on an international framework for ocean governance.

Despite the currently good economic situation in Malta, the economic slump is affecting the EU as a whole and impinges on public confidence. In response, growth and employment remains an overarching priority for the EU as a whole and the proposal is to develop a digital single market and cancel mobile phone roaming fees throughout Europe, and to strive to achieve free coverage agreements for wifi networks in public places. Other projects involve the improvement of the internal energy market and strengthening the security of energy supply for all EU citizens. Furthermore, Malta also identified the importance of the elimination of trade barriers and the protection of consumers.

As a small EU country, Malta took over the rotating presidency while up against “”inherent deficiencies”” in resources and experience, Pace said. “”But its smallness gives it a certain strength, in the sense of trustworthiness rooted in the fact that it has no wider agenda based on self-interest which could seriously affect the interests — whatever they may be — of the other member states,”” he added.

In this regard, Muscat said in his 2017 New Year speech that Malta must “”rise to the occasion”” to ensure that it does its utmost to help the EU overcome the severe challenges it is confronted with.

Despite these challenges and its size, Malta seems to be eager to leave its mark during this presidency, Pace said, believing Malta would fulfil the duties of the presidency, if for no other reason than because of its determination to succeed.

Harwood said, “”Malta is facing a unique set of circumstances and any results over the next six months would be a good outcome at such a complicated time.””

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Malta qed tiffaċċja sfidi waqt presidenza tal-UE

VALLETTA, Jannar 6 (Xinhua) — Dwar Jannar 1, Malta ħadet f’idejha l-sitt xhur li ddur Unjoni Ewropea (UE) presidenza għal-ewwel darba, ma ‘analisti twissija pajjiż jiffaċċja sfidi enormi matul il-mandat tagħha.

Wassal għall-presidenza, il-gvern Malti identifikat sitt prijoritajiet għall-Presidenza:-migrazzjoni, il-suq uniku, sigurtà, inklużjoni soċjali, viċinat tal-Ewropa, u marittimi. Madankollu, analisti rrilevat li l-kwistjonijiet li jolqtu l-UE ma kinux ristretti għal dan it-tħassib.

F’Ġunju 2016, Brexit qanqal qajmet globali u għad hemm ħafna inċertezza kif Brittanja se jħallu l-UE. Sadanittant, f’Diċembru, il-referendum kostituzzjonali Taljan wasslet għar-riżenja tal-Prim Ministru Matteo RENZI. Barra minn hekk, Donald Trump, kritiku qalbu tan-nefqa Ewropea tad-difiża, it-tibdil fil-klima, u l-kummerċ ħieles, rebaħ il-presidenza ta ‘l-Istati Uniti, li jista’ jkun problematiku għall-uffiċjali tal-UE meta jieħu kariga fuq Jannar 20.

Mark Harwood, direttur tal-Istitutall-Istudji Ewropej fl-Università ta ‘Malta, qal negozjati Brexit kienet għadha ma ġietx solvuta domestikament, li jżid mal-inċertezza tal-UE. Fl-istess ħin, minħabba l-partiti politiċi tal-lemin jiksbu l-art fi Franza, il-Ġermanja, u l-Olanda, l-elezzjonijiet fl-2017 tista ‘ssir tħassib kbir.

Bħala kolonja Ingliża ta ‘qabel, Malta, u l-Ingilterra ilhom igawdu relazzjonijiet mill-qrib. L-akbar sfida għal Malta fix-xhur li ġejjin ser tkun li jiġi żgurat komunikazzjoni tajba bejn l-Istati Membri tal-UE u Brittanja wara l-bidu tan-negozjati Brexit, Malti membru tal-Parlament Ewropew Alfred Sant qal.

Roderick Pace, li jaħdem ukoll fl-Universita ‘ta’ Malta istitut, qablu li Brexit, kif ukoll elezzjonijiet fl-Istati Membri ewlenin tal-UE li jista ‘jbiddel id-direzzjoni politika tagħhom, kienu t-tnejn inċertezzi li qed tiffaċċja l-UE. “”Se jkun importanti għal Malta li jistinkaw biex jiffaċilitaw ftehim biex isolvu dawn l-isfidi, li huma ta ‘tul itwal minn presidenza wieħed.””