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.

6 MEPs can do a lot for Malta, if they work together

6 MEPs can do a lot for Malta, if they work together

In a vlog from the European Parliament in Brussels MEP candidate & former head of European Parliament Office responds to public questions doubting the impact of 6 Maltese MEPs in a chamber of 751.

In his message from a European Parliament committee chamber Agius explains how changing EU laws does not necessarily require convincing hundreds of MEPs if one works diligently and in a technical manner at the committee stage where ‘frequently it is just a matter of convincing 15 MEPs’, Agius explains.

The MEP hopeful Agius closes his vlog saying that changing things in Europe however requires that Maltese MEPs need to work together as a team for Malta to turn the tide and bring results for youth, workers and the sectors of business.

”For this to happen we have to start from our Maltese compatriots, this is why we must invest in having a more sincere political dialogue in Malta.” Agius concludes.

See full vlog and article here, as published on The Malta Independent.

United by a common resolve

United by a common resolve

The PN is gearing up for next year’s elections, at a time when – from the outside – it looks irreparably divided. In fact there seem to be two PNs, not one: the faction led by Adrian Delia, and an uprising spearheaded by Simon Busuttil, David Casa, Jason Azzopardi and others. You are contesting this election as a PN candidate. So… whose side are you on?

First of all, I don’t believe there are ‘two PNs’, as you put it. There are issues, there are battles that we have fought in the past; battles that we will be fighting in the future; and there are candidates who represent these different battles. The skill of the candidate has to be to represent the Maltese electorate in its entirety. You cannot disregard these realities. So from the outside, when you see the picture you’re describing, you rely on little elements, little externalisations of how people express disagreements: in a Facebook post, in an interview, in a remark here and there. The reality is that the Nationalist Party is united behind a common resolve. I wouldn’t distinguish between one camp and another…

What is this ‘common resolve’?

To be a credible, pro-positive and committed Opposition party: ready to propose alternative solutions to society’s issues today. The reality is that we are an oversized population, living in an undersized infrastructure. We have designed this country according to 1990s figures, when our population was 70,000 less than it is now. My task within the Nationalist Party – and I am committed to it 24 hours a day – is to try and make the party once again a proponent of solutions for this country. First of all, we have been an EU member state for the past 14 years. The EU has brought untold benefits and opportunities for many sectors. It gave an upgrade to this country on many levels: from our heritage, to our schools, to healthcare, etc. But there are sectors that have been neglected. Farming is one such area…

I intend to ask you about agriculture later. But on the subject of the EU: hasn’t membership also had other effects? What if I put it to you that the EU’s involvement in local politics has actually exacerbated the local partisan divide, and encouraged more tribalism than before?

That is partly true. But the reality is that the EU cannot save us from ourselves. If we have problems which we need to solve, the EU will not solve them for us. If we see politics as an exercise in tribal warfare, the EU will not change that. In some regards, the EU may have actually exacerbated this issue. But it is up to us to do something about it. I will be proposing a different kind of politics, however: a politics whereby, if the Labour government does something praiseworthy, something which is in a direction we need to go… I will be one of the first to mention it. Why not? Just last week, I congratulated Health Minister Fearne on Facebook for the initiative of promoting robotics in Mater Dei. This is the way to go.

I’ll do the same for others. Wherever there are areas where we need to support or encourage government, my narrative will not be: ‘Oh look, government is a crook’. On EFSI [European Fund for Strategic Investment], for example, we saw that Malta is at the bottom of the graph – per capita, not in absolute numbers – in the use of the Juncker Plan. As I said, this is an undersize infrastructure, for an oversized population: we badly need long-term, large-scale investment… in transport, education, healthcare, and all our public services. This is what we need to discuss. We need a vision of politics which solves the problems of this country, and takes a long-term view: planning ahead for 10, 20 years down the line…

But that’s the one thing we don’t seem to be getting from the PN right now. And it also explains why, as you said, that party suffered so heavily in the last two elections. People did not see this vision back then. Are you suggesting that they are seeing it more now?

Yes. Like I said, trust is building. With this battle-cry, ‘Socjeta Li Jimpurtah’ [A Society that Cares], we are bringing out realities which the people hold dear to their heart. Like the job market, for instance. There is now a huge risk of precarious work: not only in the private sector, but even in the public sector. Last week’s strike at Gozo Channel, for instance. Why did it happen? Because government gave out a huge number of precarious, short-term contracts, offering the illusion of ‘joining the public service’… when in reality, those people were put on the payroll of a private contractor, working side by side with people who do have a public service contract. This is not ‘equal pay for equal work’… and there is no dignity at work, either; because your colleagues will enjoy better conditions of work, and more security of tenure. As for the private sector: last week I had a meeting with UHM. They told me that their collective bargaining power is fizzling out… Why?

Because you get people coming from abroad… OK, they are entitled to compete with us for the same jobs. If they are EU nationals there is no doubt about it. If they are third country nationals, they may be needed in the short term. But if we are talking about single people, with no family, coming here for two or three years, and ready to work for 5 euros an hour… that is going to have an immediate impact on the collective bargaining power of the Maltese worker. There’s no denying this. And this is what we mean by a ‘A Society that Cares’: we are interested in the life of people… not in economic figures that register a 3%, 4%, 5% growth, which is effectively the result of an expanding job market. The job market is, in fact, expanding, in terms of absolute numbers. But the salaries, the working conditions, are not expanding. They are actually diminishing…


Raphael Vassallo

Read the full article on Malta Today 

X’jgħid fuqi min ħadem miegħi? Sibna l-aktar wieħed ta’ zaqqu f’fommu – Norman Vella

X’jgħid fuqi min ħadem miegħi? Sibna l-aktar wieħed ta’ zaqqu f’fommu – Norman Vella

X'jgħid fuqi min ħadem miegħi…. Sibna l-aktar wieħed ta' zaqqu f'fommu… Norman Vella

X'jgħid fuqi min ħadem miegħi…. Sibna l-aktar wieħed ta' zaqqu f'fommu… Norman Vella

Geplaatst door Peter Agius op Dinsdag 23 oktober 2018