Prime Minister says new Labour government is ‘staunchly European’

It was a very friendly and informal greeting that welcomed Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at the European Parliament in Rue Wiertz today, for his first official visit to the European institutions as Maltese prime minister.

Waiting for him outside the European Parliament building, EP president Martin Schulz, a former leader of the Party of the European Socialists (PES), proudly and warmly welcomed Muscat – a former MEP – into the building.

14032013 - JosephMuscat MartinSchulzWalking towards members of the press with his arm around a beaming Muscat, Schulz turned towards the cameras and announced: “here is your Prime Minister.”

In the 20-minute press conference that followed after the working lunch, the friendship between the two continued to show during the comments given by a confident Muscat and a charming Schulz. At one point, Muscat confessed that walking into the building had felt like “coming back home” and admitted feeling nostalgic.

The President of the European Parliament, who had also supported Muscat during the 2008 Labour leadership election, hailed Muscat as a “real friend”.

“To meet him on an official level as a Prime Minister is another great achievement, but it doesn’t change anything from the fact that today I received a personal friend,” Schulz said.

Schulz also lauded Muscat’s walk from a member of the European Parliament to become the leader of the Opposition and back at the European Union as the leader of a member state.

He also expressed his appreciation at the fact that the new deputy prime minister and the finance minister were also former members of the European Parliament. He said that this experience contributed for a better understanding between the institutions.

Echoing Schulz’s sentiment, Muscat said the election of three former MEPs to government showed that the new Labour government was “staunchly European”.

“And we will be good Europeans, as you quite well taught me, doesn’t mean saying yes to everything but speaking out your mind, respecting others and earning the respect of others. This is the mission statement of our new government,” he said.

Muscat added that his government was very much committed to continue building on what the former PN administration succeeded in achieving with the crucial difference that his government would have “a progressive outlook for a social Europe”.

“We will focus on growth and good governance when it comes to finances. We will be an honest broker with the European Parliament and we are have elected individuals who respect the EU institutions and who seek to work actively and bringing institutions together.”

Muscat also said that he would “defend our turf” on the €1.128 billion in funds obtained by former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi for Malta in the next financial period covering the EU’s budgets from 2014 to 2020.

“We will defend our turf on the budget allocated. However, our interest is not only the national interest but also European. But I am sure that a balance can be struck.” He said.

But even though the EP won’t accept the proposed long-term budget for the EU until all payments for 2012 have been made and there are agreements on future funding and a comprehensive revision, both Schulz and Muscat reassured that Malta’s funds will not be jeopardized.



Muscat also insisted that Malta’s position on the Multi Annual Financial Framework would side with “the good and common sense”.

“We are not part of any bloc [Germany vs UK] but we will be on the side of common sense. We won’t go on a spending spree but we will support a balanced approach that can only be achieved through economic growth and interventions to reduce the rate of unemployment, especially among youths.”

 Joseph MUSCAT, Martin SCHULZ - EP President, Armin MACHMER - Spokeman, Edward SCICLUNA

Muscat’s day will continue with visits at Dar Malta, followed by a preparatory meeting of the Party of European Socialists before meeting European Council president Herman Van Rompuy and then attend the working session of the European Council.

In the evening, Muscat will then attend a working dinner for Heads of State and Government followed by the euro areas summit.

The Prime Minister is accompanied by Malta’s new finance minister and former MEP Edward Scicluna.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding Resolution which reflects its mandate upon which it will enter into negotiations with the European Council.

The agreement reached by Member States at the European Council meeting of 7-8 February 2013, and which included an indicative allocation of € 1.128 billion for Malta, still stands.

The next stage of the negotiations will involve the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU entering into negotiations with the European Parliament on the basis of the agreement of 7-8 February. Following these negotiations, the European Parliament is expected to vote on the Multiannual Financial Framework Regulation in May 2013.




– maltatoday : Thursday, 14th March, 2013


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