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[WATCH] Muscat confident Malta's close relationship with Italy to continue under Paolo Gentiloni

Maltese Prime Minister says Malta's close relationship with Italy will continue under Paolo Gentiloni's premiership

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks
15 December 2016, 12:52pm
Prime minister Joseph Muscat with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni (Photo: Ray Attard)
Prime minister Joseph Muscat with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni (Photo: Ray Attard)

Malta’s relations with Italy will remain strong under the new Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, and the two countries will continue working closely and collaborating on various issues, according to Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Muscat was answering questions put to him by Maltese media as he arrived at the European Council building in Brussels on Thursday for a summit of the heads of state or government of the 27 EU member states.

He said that he had met Gentiloni at a meeting of the Party of European Socialists (PES) earlier in the day and that he was confident the two countries would enjoy the same relationship that had been established with former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Muscat said the leaders would be focusing on the EU/Turkey statement and the issue of migration, and that he would ensure that the issues affecting the central Mediterranean be discussed.

Asked by MaltaToday if today’s summit would turn out to be yet another talking shop, without much being agreed upon, Muscat said “I hope not” before heading to meet the other leaders at a working lunch.

This is the last Council meeting to be presided by Slovakia, as Malta is set to take over the EU presidency in January for a six-month stint that is expected to be particularly engaging, with the UK expected to trigger Article 50 to start Brexit negotiations and elections in France and Germany.

The Council will today assess progress on the Partnership Framework on migration and the results achieved concerning the compacts with the selected African countries.

Britain's Theresa May, seen here with Muscat, is expected to trigger Article 50 during Malta's EU presidency (Photo: Ray Attard)
Britain's Theresa May, seen here with Muscat, is expected to trigger Article 50 during Malta's EU presidency (Photo: Ray Attard)
It is also expected to set orientations for further work, decide on the possible extension of the approach to other countries and assess the legislative progress on the External Investment Plan as it encourages swift adoption by the co-legislators.

Relations with Russia and the Netherlands' concerns on the EU/Ukraine Association Agreement will need to be addressed during the summit.

The European Council will address the implementation of the Security Agenda and the strengthening of EU cooperation on external security and defence. 

It will also take stock of progress as regards investment (EFSI), Single Market Strategies, youth-related initiatives and the fight against youth unemployment.

A press conference by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Prime Minister of Slovakia is scheduled for late in the afternoon.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will also be addressing Maltese media before heading to an informal working dinner of the 27 heads of state.

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...