Former Prime Minister Alfred Sant said that Malta should analyse the implications of the reformed deal renegotiating Britain's relationship with the European Union. Member states will be analysing the implications of this decision. So should Malta, since the agreement affects the rights of Maltese workers and their families who go to work in the UK.
Addressing the annual general meeting of the Labour Party's center at Tarxien, Dr Sant said that while the European Council's agreement on a deal with the UK had been generally greeted with satisfaction, this is no time to rush. Reservations are likely to be raised about the solutions agreed to, not least in the European Parliament. Here there could be quite a number of MEPs who will contest the arrangement by which the UK will be able not to pay full social benefits to immigrants from EU countries.
"Arguments will be raised that this is going to contradict free movement inside the EU as well as the principle that you treat the citizens of EU countries in the same way as yours.
"The point can and will be raised: if the UK is going to limit, under its social security system, the benefits that Maltese workers can aspire to under the laws of the UK, why should not the same apply to British students coming to study at the University of Malta? Maltese students who go to the UK to study at British Universities have to pay fees there, for that is the British system. But if British students come to study at the University of Malta, they do not have to pay fees, because in Malta, University tuition is free of charge. If Maltese workers will not benefit in full from British social security systems, why should British student benefit in full from Maltese educational provisions?" Dr Sant asked.
Dr. Sant said that questions like these will be raised in the coming weeks at the European Parliament and indeed all over Europe, and they need to be evaluated and taken into account.