Prime Minister Joseph Muscat stated that Malta considers that, the first draft of European Commission’s proposals for the seven-year budget which starts in 2020, offers a just and valid basis for discussions and expressed the wish that negotiations on the budget are concluded before the European Parliament elections next May. Dr Muscat was addressing the MEUSAC core group before attending another meeting of the European Council with EU leaders, which is also expected to discuss the migration issue.
The EU leaders summit on the 28 and 29 June will pave the long way for negotiations on the financial perspectives of the seven-year budget with member states holding to their positions in a bid to receive an adequate share of the EU budget.
During the MEUSAC meeting, Prime Minister Muscat discussed Malta’s positions in the European Council and declared that the first draft of proposals by the European Commission offers a just and valid base for discussions. The Commission indicated its financial allocation and the priorities for the budget.
Dr Muscat stated that the Maltese Government will negotiate from a starting point that reflects substantial increases in the gross domestic product compared with the previous five years which may impact on the financial package which will be allocated to Malta. However, the Prime Minister stressed that Malta prefers to negotiate from a perspective of more wealth, and not as beggars. He added that this will be the first time that the United Kingdom will not be contributing to the European budget due to Brexit.
This will lead to a substantial reduction in the European balance, with the Prime Minister saying that in this background Malta will try to eliminate disadvantages it may face due to these developments. He expressed the hope of an agreement on the European budget before the dissolution of the European Parliament due to the elections in May next year.
On migration, the Prime Minister stated that Malta is following a similar stand to that of five years ago and the Government is looking into the proposals for a revision of the Dublin convention, adding it will not be easy that agreement is reached between all the countries.
In comments to journalists, Dr Muscat said that Malta continues to insist for solutions on various fronts and said that European Union actions in countries, such as Niger and Chad, led to the reduction of migrants crossing the Mediterranean. “Migration is always a very hot issue which raises sentiments…however crossing from these countries in reality decreased by 78% from last year, even among others due the EU engagement in border countries with Libya.
The Prime Minister reiterated that Malta will shoulder its burden and last year, on average, it was the second most country in the EU which accepted the greatest number of migrants with humanitarian protection.