Edward Zammit Lewis happy to be serving again in Joseph Muscat's Cabinet

Minister-in-waiting Edward Zammit Lewis posits EU budget negotiations as next big challenge

Edward Zammit Lewis
Edward Zammit Lewis

There are tough negotiations ahead for the European Affairs Ministry over the forthcoming EU budget that will determine the amount of funds coming Malta's way, minister-in-waiting Edward Zammit Lewis said.

In his first reaction after being nominated minister to replace Helena Dalli, the former tourism minister told MaltaToday that in the ongoing EU negotiations Malta must secure adequate funding for the budgetary period 2021 to 2027.

"We have to secure the necessary funding for migration, the digital economy, human resources development, the environment, infrastructure and social policies," he said.

Zammit Lewis will be sworn in on Thursday as European affairs and equality minister after Dalli was nominated by the Prime Minister as European Commissioner.

READ ALSO: Helena Dalli nominated as Malta's next European Commissioner

"It is a privilege for me to be able to serve the country again as part of the Joseph Muscat Cabinet. It has always been my wish since the last election to be able to do so after giving my all in Parliament," Zammit Lewis said. In the last election, Zammit Lewis made it to Parliament through a casual election, missing out on a Cabinet post.

Having served as chair of parliament's foreign and European affairs committee since 2017, it is clear that Zammit Lewis will put European affairs top of his ministry's agenda in what could signal a shift in balance from his predecessor's emphasis on equality.

The country also has to ensure it remains efficient in its use of EU funds, he added.

The ministry also faces the Brexit challenge, Zammit Lewis said. "We have to see how what will happen to an important EU ally like Britain, now under the premiership of Boris Johnson."

Asked about the equality portfolio, Zammit Lewis said gender equality would remain top of his agenda. "This ministry will be captained by a man but I subscribe to the agenda pushed by Joseph Muscat and Helena Dalli on gender equality. I will also put emphasis on equality within a wider context and ensure that Malta's position as a role model for the world on LGBTIQ rights will be maintained."

Zammit Lewis will have Aaron Farrugia as his parliamentary secretary. Farrugia has been concentrating on the European portfolio. "Aaron congratulated me and I am looking forward to work closely with him."