Tax harmonisation not in the national interest. Let’s guard our leverage in Europe.  – Peter Agius at The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry event

Tax harmonisation not in the national interest. Let’s guard our leverage in Europe. – Peter Agius at The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry event

“I want effective implementation of EU rules and scrutiny on the government. If elected to the European Parliament, I will not be there to cover up for the government but to represent people and protect their interests. Look at what happened in the financial services sector. FIAU and institutions were sleeping, notwithstanding blatant abuse. Then they gave several fines which courts are considering as unconstitutional. Now we are in uncertainty. We need more seriousness across the board.” Dr. Peter Agius, PN MEP Candidate, made these remarks during a debate on Financial Institutions and Over-Regulation organized by The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise, and Industry.

Peter Agius explained that financial services operators are paying the price for the lack of due diligence with Pilatus bank leading to great damage to the industry in Malta and abroad. “Nowhere is the price of corruption and abuse of power as clear as in the sacrifice done by thousands of Maltese professionals who have seen profitability in the industry going down and bureaucracy and regulation going up to make up for the excesses of others. The dragging of feet with regard to the extradition of Pilatus officials adds salt to the wound. While many had to face fines and hardship, the real culprits keep enjoying the good life – scot-free.”

Agius also spoke on the need for fewer rules and better implementation. “We can’t have 200 EU laws a year but then have fuel tanks at Hal Farrug close to private residences and untreated sewage discarded in the sea. These are two textbook cases of Malta disregarding EU laws and standards. If elected as MEP, I will scrutinize both the commission and the Maltese government to ensure EU laws are implemented in Malta and that the rights of citizens and the industry are safeguarded. I want a strong EU on rights, on the environment, on EU opportunities for Gozo and youth, but not a Europe which covers 1000 things without implementing rights. Agius said that he wrote to several ministers but never got a reply. On the other hand, when he wrote to the Commission, he got a reply immediately. He stressed “We need political maturity to defend the rights of citizens.”

Dr. Peter Agius said he disagreed with Malta giving up its fiscal sovereignty as the country relied only on human capital. “How much Malta will lose? Other big countries will gain billions according to reports. We need Europe to make its impact assessment but we need to do ours before legislation is adopted and not after.” In this regard, he referred to the EPP – European People’s Party electoral manifesto, which advocates for assessing the territorial impact of European measures and laws before implementation—a principle he actively advocated for and intends to uphold for Malta’s benefit. He said “This measure is priceless for Malta and I want to make this at the center of EU decision-making.”

Agius added “We need to be more present across the board, to be better prepared to have more competence in Europe. We can’t give up that we can adapt EU laws to our need. I worked in the EU and negotiated over 20 EU laws. I know for a fact that if you have a strong argument and you make it consistently, others will understand and try to accommodate. But once again, we need moral authority in Europe; otherwise, we can’t face Europe and change things to our needs.”

Agius also spoke on the need to work together with stakeholders to adapt EU laws to Malta’s needs. “We need the industry to work with MEPs to leave an impact when laws are still being shaped. We need the contribution of all. I am going to fight for your rights and as promised, I want to empower Maltese stakeholders to work in a collegial way to defend our rights.”

To reduce the cost of living, we need tangible actions from the Government in Malta, rather than blaming others.

To reduce the cost of living, we need tangible actions from the Government in Malta, rather than blaming others.

The Vice-President of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager, decisively debunked the claims made by Labor MEP Alex Agius Saliba, who attempted to shift the blame for the cost of living onto importers and the European Commission in order to protect Robert Abela. This was the key takeaway from a press conference held by European Parliament election candidate Peter Agius and PN Shadow Minister for Economy and Enterprise Jerome Caruana Cilia.

The speakers recalled how, last November, the Labour MEP accused Maltese importers of breaking the law and inflating prices, while urging the President of the European Commission to investigate them. Peter Agius promptly dismissed Agius Saliba’s request as absurd, stating that it is the responsibility of the Maltese Government, particularly the Competition Authority (MCCAA), to address such matters.

Now, the European Commission has responded officially, completely refuting the claims of the Labour MEP. Commissioner Vestager explicitly stated that it is the responsibility of the Maltese Government to investigate price abuses by any business in Malta.

It seems either Alex Agius Saliba is incompetent or attempting to mislead the public by persisting in his calls for the European Commission to investigate Maltese importers. The speakers reiterated that the Labour MEP either hasn’t learned anything during his five years in the European Parliament or is deliberately attempting to divert attention from the government’s obligations, which legally include investigating any instances of price abuse in the market.

Peter Agius lamented that cases like these highlights how Labour Party MEPs in Europe seem more focused on shielding the government than on advocating for consumer interests within the European Union. They stressed the need for competence and dedication to the needs of the Maltese people in Europe, rather than theatrical gestures aimed at diverting public attention.

It is unjust for Maltese businesses to suffer damage to their reputation in Europe when the lack of action on the cost of living lies squarely with the government, which has failed to investigate and regulate the market in response to allegations of price abuses by the Labour MEP.

They emphasized that the government holds responsibilities in the market, including ensuring a level playing field between businesses and investigating reported anti-competitive behavior. Only then can we ensure that the free market benefits consumers rather than exploiting them. By shifting blame onto Europe, the government is simply evading its duty to support families.

The Nationalist Party believes in policies that assist families in coping with the high cost of living, primarily by developing a new economic model that leads to higher wages. The failure of the Labour Party in government is evident, considering Malta is the only country in Europe where wages have stagnated for the past 11 years, resulting in increasingly challenging living conditions for Maltese families, where income remains stagnant while purchasing power diminishes.

Peter Agius discusses housing affordability in Malta with Build Europe

Peter Agius discusses housing affordability in Malta with Build Europe

“It is already close to impossible for first-time buyers to access the housing market today. New Green Deal measures will make it even harder to buy property in Malta, especially for first-time buyers who risk seeing price hikes due to new rules requiring new buildings to be net zero emission as from 2030. If elected as an MEP I will make sure that new rules do not put the burden of the European Green Deal on property buyers. The Maltese Government must do more to leverage EU funds to sustain property buyers to invest in energy efficiency. The Green deal has to be a deal for the Maltese as well.” Peter Agius, MEP Candidate for the upcoming European elections taking place on 8th June made these remarks after meeting Federico Nahuel Lazzari, Secretary-General of Build Europe, the association representing developers and homebuilders in the EU, including the Malta Developers Association (MDA).

Federico Nahuel Lazzari welcomed the initiative of Dr Peter Agius to meet and discuss policy priorities to help property buyers in Europe.  “I would like to thank Dr. Agius for his availability and his stance on housing affordability. Build Europe has been working for many years to raise concerns at the EU level about the housing crisis, which prevents millions of citizens from accessing decent housing at affordable costs. We hope that our Manifesto will help EU policymakers find efficient solutions, and we are happy that Dr. Agius acknowledges with us the importance of home in citizens’ lives”, said Federico Nahuel Lazzari.

The need to address housing affordability is vital also when taking into account wages in Malta. According to Eurostat Maltese wages are lower than most other EU countries. Wages have improved across Europe since 2016 except in Malta. In this regard Peter Agius stressed “Maltese wages at a stand-still. Far from being the best in Europe, Maltese wages have stalled where European wages keep growing. This makes it even harder for young people to buy their first property. New EU directives on energy efficiency are now expected to lead to further property hikes as new buildings will need to be zero emissions as from 2030. I call on the Maltese Government to launch a national consultation process on the implementation of these new rules. Let’s not wait till the eleventh hour to start the change needed in the property market.”

Peter Agius who has 20 years of EU experience said “Our emphasis should be how to make the best of Europe in securing easy funding for property convertors, renovators and builders to offer clean energy properties at affordable prices.”

He concluded that the burden of the Green Deal cannot be carried by the property buyers, especially not first-time buyers. He said that if elected to the European Parliament he will ensure that EU legislation is fit for the Maltese Islands. “Shaping EU laws to our needs is one of my priorities. If elected as MEP I want to make use of provisions in the European People’s Party electoral manifesto, which advocates for assessing the territorial impact of European measures and laws before implementation—a principle I actively advocated for over the last three years and which I intend to uphold for Malta’s benefit.”

Peter Agius meets Transparency International EU Director Nick Aiossa

Peter Agius meets Transparency International EU Director Nick Aiossa

“We need to continue the fight for good governance using new tools, building alliances with all people of good will and empowering civil society to keep decision-makers under constant scrutiny” said EU official and MEP candidate Peter Agius after meeting Nick Aiossa, Director of Transparency International.

Transparency International is the leading global organisation tasked with preventing corruption and promoting integrity by keeping constant watch on the Rule of Law and Transparency agenda in European Union institutions and its Member States.

Director Nick Aiossa welcomed the initiative of MEP candidate Peter Agius to discuss with Transparency International EU how the good governance agenda can be promoted in Malta and the EU ahead of the 8 June European Elections.

Peter Agius said that ‘Civil society organisations like Transparency International needs to be empowered to secure greater accountability in decision-making, including in the use of EU funding by the EU and in the Member States. We need to be vigilant that hard-earned tax payer money does not end up in the wrong pockets.’

“The next European Parliament legislature needs to strengthen scrutiny on the use of EU funding first of all by providing for more transparency on funded projects and their effective deliverables and secondly by ensuring proper follow-up and improved coordination by national and European authorities like the European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO) to effectively stamp out corruption and fraud in the use of EU funding.”

“It is indeed worrying that in its first yearly report the EPPO notes 14 ongoing cases of fraud from EU funding in Malta. We must all do our part to increase accountability and transparency. We can’t risk eroding public trust.” said Peter Agius.

“Apart for stamping out fraud, we must also avoid cases of misuse where EU money is not used optimally and fails to deliver on its promised deliverables. One such clear case is the 70 million EU funding spent in Malta on sewage plants. Contractors were paid, but much more sewage is now flowing into our beaches than ever before. This is unacceptable. This is why I requested a performance audit to the Auditor General to secure better clarity on responsibilities in this field. Our time at the beach this summer depends on this!” concluded Peter Agius.








Ibgħat l-indirizz u nibgħatulek żerriegħa tal-fjuri

Ibgħat l-indirizz u nibgħatulek żerriegħa tal-fjuri

Kontra l-pandemija niżirgħu ftit kulur.

Qed inqassmu żerriegħa ta’ 11-il-tip ta’ fjuri annwali u biennali:

Zinnia, ‘Pot Marigolds’, Verbascum, Digitalis, Lavatera, Lupins, Tagetes, Aster, Rudbeckia, Scabiosa u Cosmos.

Ibgħat l-indirizz tiegħek b’messaġġ privat u nibgħatulek iż-żerriegħa d-dar.

Grazzi kbira lill-kollaboraturi li qed jgħinu f’din l-inizjattiva.

1. Prepara roqgħa art imħallta bil-kompost jew pot imdaqqsa; saqqi sew.

2. Xerred iż-żerriegħa bi ftit distanza bejn waħda jew oħra (pakkett iservi għal 3 pots jew għal 2 metri kwadri fl-art).

3. Għafas ftit iż-żerriegħa biex ikolla kuntatt mal-ħamrija.

4. Għatti bi ftit għabra fina.

5. IMPORTANTI: Żomm l-art niedja regolarment, saqqi ftit kuljum għall-ewwel ġimgħatejn bil-mod b’bexxiexa ‘spray’ b’mod li ma ċċaqlaqx wisq il-ħamrija.

6. Gawdi r-riżultat 🙂


Ittra Lill-Kunsill Nazzjonali tal-Ilsien Malti

Ittra Lill-Kunsill Nazzjonali tal-Ilsien Malti

Lill-Kunsill Nazzjonali tal-Ilsien Malti
Iċ-Ċentru tal-Kurrikulu
Triq Sarria
Il-Furjana FRN 1460

Illum is-26 ta’ Settembru 2020, il-Jum Ewropew tal-Lingwi

Għażiż President,

Għeżież Membri,

L-ilsien Malti huwa element ewlieni li jagħmilna min aħna, li jsawwarna f’poplu distint u uniku fost il-ġnus. Għalhekk meta dħalna fl-Unjoni Ewropea insistejna u nnegozjajna, kultant kontra lkurrent, biex il-Malti jkun meqjus lingwa uffiċjali tal-Unjoni.

Minn dik il-kisba twieldu ħafna oħrajn. Industrija tat-traduzzjoni b’bosta kumpanniji Malta u mijiet ta’ impjegati barra. Dan għen ukoll b’mod indirett għall-konsolidament u r-rispett akbar tal-lingwa fostna stess.

Meta fl-2004 l-istituzzjonijiet Ewropej adottaw Deroga għall-ilsien Malti, jien kont iġġelidt biex din ma tiġix estiża. Bħala kandidat MEP u anke bħala funzjonarju Ewropew imbuttajt dejjem lugwaljanza tal-lingwi u l-użu tal-Malti b’mod partikolari, tant li dejjem ktibt lill-Istituzzjonijiet Ewropej bil-Malti u insistejt li jirrisponduni bil-Malti. Mal-President tal-Parlament Ewropew Tajani dejjem insistejt li d-diskorsi ewlenin tiegħu jkunu tradotti u mxerrda bil-Malti wkoll, dan għall-ewwel darba fil-Parlament Ewropew.

Ċert li m’iniex waħdi f’din l-għożża ta’ lsienna. Mijiet jew eluf oħrajn, inkluż intom fuq dan il- Kunsill, iġġibu ’l quddiem il-Malti f’kull aspett tal-ħajja. Huwa għaldaqstant ta’ niket u rabja għalija li nikkostata li l-Gvern Malti, dak li jrid jimplimenta u jħares l-aktar il-kisbiet u d-dinjit. tagħna fl-Ewropa, qiegħed sistematikament iċedi u jirrinunzja għad-dritt tagħna l-Maltin li nitkellmu, niktbu u nirċievu lura risposti bil-Malti.

Dan jidher ċar minn serje ta’ sentenzi tal-Qorti tal-Ġustizzja Ewropea fejn il-Qorti tieħu nota li lkawża tista’ ssir bl-Ingliż għax il-Gvern Malti jirrinunzja għad-dritt li ssir bil-Malti. Fil-fatt minn 21 kawża li involvew lil Malta fl-aħħar snin, kienu biss 8 istanzi fejn il-Gvern Malti uża l-ilsien Malti. Fi 13-il kawża irrinunzja għad-dritt li jressaq il-kawża bil-Malti.

Dik l-istess attitudni ta’ disprezz lejn l-ilsien tagħna issa qed tidher ukoll f’serje sħiħa ta’ deċiżjonijiet u korrispondenza bil-miktub tal-Gvern Malti mal-Kummissjoni Ewropea fejn il- Kummissjoni qed tiddikjara li l-Gvern Malti jirrinunzja għad-dritt li għandu skont l-Artikolu 342 tat-Trattat dwar il-Funzjonament tal-Unjoni Ewropea u skont ir-Regolament 1/1958 li effettivament jikteb u jistenna risposta mill-istituzzjonijiet kollha Ewropej fil-lingwa Maltija, u qiegħed minflok jikteb u jistenna risposta biss fil-lingwa Ingliża. Qed nannetti hawnhekk eżempju wieħed ta’ din il-prattika biss b’xhieda ta’ prattika mifruxa u sistematika (vide paragrafu 2).

Dan huwa assolutament inaċċettabbli. Lanqas nista’ biss nimmaġina pajjiż ieħor fl-Ewropa li jasal li jittratta l-ilsien tiegħu b’dan il-mod. Nixtieq nissottolinea li fl-Ewropa ma nistgħux niġu rispettati jekk ma nafux nirrispettaw lilna nfusna. Mingħajr ma nelabora f’dettall, nemmen li intom konxji wkoll tal-impatt dirett ta’ prattika bħal din fuq il-bżonn ta’ tradutturi, interpreti u qarrejja tal-provi fl-istituzzjonijiet Ewropej kif ukoll tal-ħafna effetti indiretti, fosthom fuq ilqasam kbir tat-tagħlim ta’ lsienna u l-kuraġġ lil dawk kollha involuti fih.

Għalhekk qed nikteb lilkom illum, il-Jum Ewropew tal-Lingwi, bħala l-istituzzjoni Maltija responsabbli mill-promozzjoni u d-difiża tal-ilsien Malti, b’talba biex tikkunsidraw dawn il-fatti hawn fuq u biex tieħdu azzjoni adegwata f’dan ir-rigward bil-ħsieb li l-ħsara li qed issir tiġi indirizzata u kkoreġuta fil-ġejjieni. Qed nikkopja wkoll għall-korrettezza u għall-informazzjoni lill-Ministru għall-Affarijiet Ewropej l-Onorevoli Evarist Bartolo kif ukoll lill-Ministru tal- Edukazzjoni l-Onorevoli Owen Bonnici.

Dispost nelabora aktar jekk meħtieġ.

Nistenna mingħandkom,

Peter Agius

Kandidat Elezzjoni Ewropea


L-Onorevoli Ministru għall-Affarijiet Ewropej Evarist Bartolo

L-Onorevoli Ministru tal-Edukazzjoni Owen Bonnici

L-Akkademja tal-Malti

Id-Dipartiment tat-Traduzzjoni u Interpretazzjoni fl-Universit. ta’ Malta

L-Għaqda tal-Qarrejja tal-Provi bil-Malti


>> Ittra Lill-Kunsill Nazzjonali tal-Ilsien Malti <<

>>Anness: Deċiżjoni tal-Kummissjoni Ewropea (2020) 6220 final tat-8 ta’ Settembru 2020<<

Peter Agius: A Good Reason To Vote – My Mission To Get The Best Opportunities For Malta

Peter Agius: A Good Reason To Vote – My Mission To Get The Best Opportunities For Malta

People need a good reason to vote, that’s always been clear. It may seem to some that the MEP elections is just another day of voting, but the EU can have a massive affect on the everyday lives of Maltese people. We can’t miss the opportunity to elect the best people to represent us in Brussels. We have just 6 of them, as opposed to 60 or 90 for other EU countries… so we really need to pick up the aces.

1.PN candidate against all the odds

I was still working in Brussels with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani when I accepted the call to run for MEP in September, leaving little room for political campaigning in Malta.

My friends told me ‘you don’t need this’ given that I am an established EU official. Those closest to me told me this is the worst time ever to be the foot soldier for the Nationalist Party, and yet, I felt this is the moment where my energy and experience are needed, to keep labour in check and to work towards results for Malta and the Maltese.

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2. So why I am running?

I’ve seen first hand how Europe can make a huge difference to sectors of society and am deeply concerned that we took a confrontational relationship with EU and are disregarding many opportunities passing by unnoticed.

My campaign looks to give people a good reason to vote. A reason that goes straight to the heart of their work, values, and everyday lives. I want to communicate this in a frank and direct style, no BS, no frills – but rife with researched ideas and substance.

I am building this campaign on 16 years experience in the EU institutions, and then applying that knowledge to my visits to businesses, workers and campuses all over the islands. From fields to factories to workshops, offices, student cafes and fishing trawlers, I met thousands of ambitious Maltese, Gozitans and Expats with a view to test my proposals to bring European solutions to local problems.

The amazing thing about this is that then I found a big big family ready to endorse my ideas and turn them into policies. That’s what I am doing within the Nationalist Party. My little seeds have found very fertile soil. With the party we presented 6 main proposals so far, from proposals to tap into EU direct funds for small businesses, to measures to strengthen public service, to concrete ways to promote the Maltese product.

This is an amazing opportunity that everyone should consider. The PN is sometimes seen as weak from the outside, but in reality it is a party open to ideas, open to input from all those of good will. It’s true that we need to improve, but I’d rather improve with the open minded than side with arrogant know-it-alls.

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3. An MEP can move mountains – We need the best 6

An MEP can move mountains if they can make the most out of the many opportunities available for the country.

Yes, laws can often be drawn up with other realities in mind beyond Malta, but it is up to us to mould EU laws that fit our country better. Like a glove which needs to fit our hands, not too tight.

This is why we need to make sure that we are putting the very best people in Brussels, who can push forward the issues facing our younger generations, workers, and business so we can truly take the next step forward.

4.‘Rebbiegha li jmiss’ – 7 results for Malta

I think former PN leader Eddie Fenech Adami best summed up Malta’s special experience in Europe by saying that our country had entered a ‘New Spring’ through EU membership.

Being part of the EU has certainly yielded its fruit, but more must be done to prolong this season of plenty, a key reason why my campaign motto is ‘Rebbiegha li jmiss’ or ‘The Next Spring’.

This is why I’ve outlined 7 results that we can achieve if I am elected as an MEP. By placing proper emphasis on EU funding, we can provide incredible opportunities to youths, the civil service, business, SMEs and our unique Maltese identity.

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5. Let’s treble our ambition on youth opportunities

Only 1 in 20 Maltese youths get to benefit from EU programmes right now. New EU money can treble our participation rate in work placements, traineeships, studies or volunteer experience abroad. Let us seize that opportunity! We need to invest in capacity building and awareness, an MEP can take that process by the hand with interventions from Brussels.

We are too small an island to restrict younger generations to the country, who need to be able to gather crucial experiences abroad to have an invaluable effect on Malta.

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6. Putting local farmers and fisherman at the forefront of the agenda

We are what we eat. Right now we import 70% of our food, while our own farmers go bankrupt. We cannot depend so heavily on foreign imports. What happens if there is a food crises abroad?

Since July last year, I have practically forced the serious issues facing farmers onto the national agenda, with Party Leader Adrian Delia and MEPs like Alfred Sant now making Maltese agriculture a key part of their politics.

I also lobbied the European Commission to properly address the concerns facing our fisherman, particularly when it comes to lampuki. This I did as a candidate… imagine as an MEP.

7. The union must respect the diversity of EU Member States

Malta is unique, we all know that. This is why we need a European Union that respects our country’s particular characteristics and become a platform for our culture, language and traditions.

There is really so much more we can do if by using the right approach and work together.

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8. My positive politics can help everyone

I’ve always believed that positive politics can make sure that everyone in society benefits, no matter where you come from or whom you vote for.

With the number of disenfranchised or floating voters only growing, I am certain that I can be a representative in the EU for the entire country.

The Labour Party, it seems, has taken note taking me to task on anything imaginable, with One TV even running a segment to mock my cooking abilities …which I’ll admit can improve.

To be honest, I don’t blame them feeling the heat when I am offering the kind of politics that can actually deliver clear solutions that truly affect the everyday lives of people in Malta.

At the end of it all, criticism is always healthy. It is the only way we can strive to go one step further and deliver better results for every person in the entire country.

I’ll be happy to chat on messenger or directly in public comments on FB page PeterAgiusMalta and instagram where you can also follow details on the 7 areas and respective results we can achieve together.


Published by LovinMalta here.

EU funding and Gozo

EU funding and Gozo

Gozo has a special place in my campaign as a candidate for the European Parliament election. I strive to dedicate a good part of my efforts to visit interest groups on the island, including a Question & Answer event tonight in Marsalforn, and process concerns with research with a view to finding European solutions.

Other MEP candidates are doing the same and rightly so, as Gozo has specific needs which should be brought to the fore with specific attention before we choose our representatives in Europe on May 25.

The Nationalist Party came forward with a game-changing idea for Gozo in recent weeks – a Regional Council elected by Gozitans to truly represent Gozitan aspirations.

To my mind, the main sticking point in Gozo is the lack of autonomy for Gozitans to give strategic direction to the Gozitan economy. The thing is that while EU funds are allocated to Gozo as part of Malta’s EU funding, the projects to be done and their modalities are not decided by Gozitans but by Castille.

We know how Castille tends to decide on Gozo. More than 800 precarious jobs were given at the last minute before the last election putting several Gozitan businesses on their knees while trebling the workforce in government services not needing reinforcement. A tale I heard while touring the island has it that at one particular beach, attendants were increased eight-fold, with the only original beach attendant now refusing to work. The result: a dirty beach.

Back to the PN proposal. The government reacted to our proposal for a representative Regional Council in Gozo through the words of Parliamentary Secretary Aaron Farrugia who retorted that “Gozo as a region would be unable to apply for EU funds”.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary correct?

First of all, we need to define EU funds. Malta’s traditional reading of EU funds relates to money allocated to Malta in the seven-year budgetary period which is then allocated by the government to specific projects. In technical jargon, we call these ‘country allocations’.

If we want to help Gozo to truly catch up with its European aspiration, we can. If we don’t, we just keep on shooting the messenger

We all remember the glorious return of Lawrence Gonzi from Brussels in 2013 with an allocation of €1.128 billion to be used between 2013 and 2019. That kind of money allocated to member states is not however all the EU budget. A good 30 per cent of the EU budget is not allocated to member states but managed centrally by the European Commission to assign to projects submitted directly by civil society, regional authorities, businesses or other entities for projects in the community from educational campaigns to research, innovation and business projects.

This factor alone proves the Parliamentary Secretary 30 per cent wrong. I do not blame him for side-lining this possibility, given that Malta has an abysmal record in tapping into direct funds. That alone points to one possible vocation of a Gozo Regional Council.

Secondly, the Parliamentary Secretary’s statement is based on a formalistic reading of EU funding criteria.

These indeed excluded the possibility of an island with a population of 31,000 to become a NUTS 2 region for EU funding purposes given that the threshold minimum population is of 800,000. Yes, you heard it.

The current threshold would exclude the whole of Malta itself from being a NUTS 2 region, but Malta negotiated an exception before accession. So did Spain with much smaller territories like Ceuta and Melilla that have a NUTS 2 status notwithstanding their population of around 80,000. This demonstrates that a NUTS 2 status would not be, in principle, out of reach for Gozo. The Parliamentary Secretary’s outright rejection of the PN proposal on the basis of EU funding is hence incorrect and rash to begin with.

Sometimes I feel that the sweeping pessimism of Alfred Sant prior to 2003 still pervades this Labour government when it comes to making the EU work for the Maltese people. We did not get into the EU because it was easy or effortless to make it work. We joined because we are convinced in the Maltese and Gozitans’ ability to make the EU work through commitment and constant adaptation.

That adaptation should be the main task of myself and any of my colleagues elected to an MEP seat on 25 May. The Parliamentary Secretary’s rash reaction betrays that this kind of European ethos has not infiltrated Labour deep enough to this very day.

Finally, I am not personally proposing to apply for NUTS 3 status for Gozo.

With that would come particular administrative handling burdens. We need not however capsize the whole government administrative structures to include a significant role for an autonomous Gozitan entity to have a direct say in EU funding.

It would suffice to include a future Gozitan Regional Council in the programmation of the Multiannual Financial Framework with a specific chapter on Gozo and to assign to a subsidiary body under its political guidance the role of handling EU funding for Gozo.

If we want to help Gozo to truly catch up to its European aspiration, we can.

If we don’t, we just keep on shooting the messenger with categorical statements.

Peter Agius is a Nationalist Party candidate for the European elections, former head of the European Parliament Office and cabinet member of the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece. Article published on Times of Malta here.

AI and robotics require serious attention to skills gap or risk mass unemployment

AI and robotics require serious attention to skills gap or risk mass unemployment

Peter Agius, PN candidate for MEPs election, commends the creation of .AI Taskforce entrusted to develop a National AI Strategy. This sector has the potential of opening opportunities for youths, workers & businesses.

However, the government document available for public consultation lacks emphasis on two crucial elements which should be part of the national strategy.
The first one being that artificial intelligence and robotics risk losses on sectors of employment. Hence, it is important that this National AI Strategy incorporates a strategy on developing the skills of Maltese workers so that they adapt to new employment in the digital revolution. It is estimated that in the next decade, in only four European countries, around five million jobs will be lost to robots.
Already in Malta, in some sectors, factories are requiring less human workforce as work is being done by robots.
This may be an opportunity as we can reinforce our industry, however, it represents also a challenge that we must prepare and tackle appropriately.
The MEP candidate said that Malta’s job market can be particularly vulnerable to the digital revolution because of its high early school leaving rate. According the country specific recommendations published by the European Commission, there are serious skill gaps in the Maltese workforce.
“This calls for immediate actions to bolster employee skills, particularly in IT,” said the Tajani Speechwriter, Peter Agius.
“In the digital era we need to adapt and empower our workforce in order to exploit opportunities. Europe provides us the tools to do so. In the next EU budget, the European Commission is proposing EUR 700 million in funds so that European workers adapt their skills to the digital world. Malta can also make use of a special digital fund in order to attract robotics, AI and start-ups,” concluded Dr Agius
See full article and video on the Malta Independent here.