The Deputy Prime Minister, Louis Grech, has congratulated the Netherlands on a positive start to its Presidency of the Council of the EU, notwithstanding the many challenges facing the Union. The Deputy Prime Minister was speaking at a meeting of the General Affairs Council in Brussels, which discussed the Dutch Work Programme over the first six months of 2016. He also welcomed the fact that the first two weeks of the Presidency of the Netherlands showed a clear commitment to establishing momentum in the implementation of the joint goals of the Trio of Presidencies shared with Slovakia and Malta.
“The themes and priorities identified for the Dutch Presidency for the coming six months are an excellent contribution to achieve the objectives of our Trio Programme,” stated the Deputy Prime Minister during his intervention. He appreciated the emphasis which the Netherlands has placed on what is important to the EU’s citizens and businesses. This will also be an underlying compass for Malta’s Presidency which begins less than a year from now.
The Deputy Prime Minister added: “We have a realistic agenda that focuses on critical and essential issues that reflect current realities rather than an overly extensive program that is removed from the real life concerns of European people.” He went on to highlight that the Programme was specifically developed in order to concentrate on the fundamental issues of security, migration, growth, economic stability, employment, energy, the environment and the Single Market.
Ministers at the meeting also had an initial exchange of views on the agenda of the upcoming European Council summit which will take place on 18-19 February 2016 and which will focus primarily on the UK issue as well as continue the discussion on the challenge of migration. With regard to migration, the Deputy Prime Minister has repeatedly stressed that the implementation of past decisions and commitments has been going at too slow a pace and Member States need to be more resolute to implement and ensure deadlines are met.
Commenting on the UK issue, the Deputy Prime Minister noted that while fully respecting the ultimate will of the British people; Malta believes that both the UK and the EU are stronger with the UK as a Member State.