Malta prepares for challenge of 2017 EU presidency

The role of the EU Presidency includes the responsibility for chairing meetings of the Council and its many working groups.

Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds Ian Borg (left) is responsible for the coordination of the 2017 EU presidency
Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds Ian Borg (left) is responsible for the coordination of the 2017 EU presidency

The prospect of EU presidency for such a small nation as Malta will be one full of challenges, parliamentary secretary for EU funds Ian Borg told a meeting of the MEUSAC core group Friday morning.

But the junior minister said he was encouraged by “the fruitful experiences of other small EU nations, in particular Ireland and Lithuania, that have held the position in the past”.

The meeting was chaired by Dr Helena Dalli, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, who said that the MEUSAC Core Group offers “an ideal forum for discussions between Government, and representatives of civil society and social partners on the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.”

Dalli said she believed the group is an opportunity for social partners and representatives of civil society to and keep abreast of developments related to the presidency and discuss its priorities.

Dalli also announced that executive director Victor Camilleri and logistics coordinator Paul Mifsud, will be attending all Core Group meetings “so as to ensure that the consultation process on the Maltese Presidency is a continuous one”.

Ian Borg emphasised the bi-partisan approach to the preparations, referring to talks underway with the Opposition spokesperson for the Presidency, Antoine Borg, who also participated in this morning’s meeting.

Parliamentary Secretary Borg also said that discussions with the Opposition will intensify over the coming weeks and months within the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign and European Affairs and other fora.

On behalf of the Opposition, Nationalist MP Antoine Borg expressed the commitment by the opposition to the success of the Maltese presidency.

The role of the EU Presidency includes the responsibility for chairing meetings of the Council and its many working groups.

The presiding Member State also chairs informal Council Meetings and organises other ancillary events that take place in the Member State during the Presidency.

Ian Borg announced that the first formal meeting of the Presidency Trio consisting of Slovakia, the Netherlands and Malta that will be presiding over the Council of the European Union between 1 January 2016 and 30 June 2017, will take place in Bratislava at the end of March with the aim of identifying the priorities of the Presidency and to start preparing the programme.

Victor Camilleri said that the Maltese Presidency must promote the EU’s priorities, but will also strive to push forward Malta’s priorities in the EU.

From the logistical aspect, coordinator Paul Mifsud emphasised the importance  of  making Malta’s Presidency an  economically sustainable success, saying that Malta “will be very careful to keep expenses as low as possible”.

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