The Malta Independent 24 June 2019, Monday

EU funding to Gozo has better chance of EC approval through cross border initiatives – Sant

Friday, 28 December 2018, 09:35 Last update: about 7 months ago

To achieve EU funding to Gozo that goes beyond that already accorded to Malta under EU budgetary rules, it is important to set out cross-border initiatives with other island groups from other member states, said Labour MEP Alfred Sant.

Sant met the Gozo Business Chamber who requested the meeting to discuss further cooperation with the Maltese MEP and his Gozo office to promote the Gozo Business Chamber’s initiatives in the EU.

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Gozo Business Chamber members emphasised the need for new ideas to promote initiatives that would help generate new business in EU small islands.  They stressed their commitment to generating such proposals on a cross-border basis with other island business organisations.

The Maltese MEP explained that EU procedures have to be followed strictly when new investment ideas are being sought. Sant said that most procedures followed by the European Commission are not designed to cater to small islands like that of Gozo and Malta.

“Extra focus should, therefore, be given to ensure that some projects that make sense for Gozo really get the right backing,” Sant emphasized.

He explained how this has already been achieved in a project to promote clean energy sources for EU isolated islands that was launched through the European Parliament through his initiative and other MEPS from Croatia, Sicily and Sardinia. This project has now been adopted by the EC with a budgetary commitment of €10 million for a pilot project.

During the meeting, GBC President Joseph Borg emphasised the importance of ever improving connectivity between islands and mainlands. On this basis, he stressed that besides the tunnel project,  Gozo Channel facilities have to be given the same importance as a basic infrastructure by way of new investment that Malta International Airport has been given over the years.

European financial instruments that could help SMEs and Gozo’s labour market were also discussed during the meeting.

25% of Gozo’s working population commutes to Malta because of better working conditions.

Currently, the Gozo Business Chamber holds the presidency of INSULEUR (network of the insular chambers of commerce and industry of the European Union).

Further follow-ups will take place in Brussels during an upcoming visit in January 2019 of a delegation from the Gozo Business Chamber.

The meeting was attended by Joseph Borg (President), Michael Galea (Vice President) and Council Members Peter Paul Hili, Dr Jonathan Mintoff, Andrew Zammit and Jack Thewma (Office Manager).

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