The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Government does not understand how to fit Malta’s priorities into EU budget policies – Peter Agius

Albert Galea Thursday, 4 April 2019, 08:02 Last update: about 5 months ago

The Labour government, unlike past PN administrations, does not have the ability to understand how to fit Malta’s priorities into the European Union’s budgetary headings and policies, PN MEP candidate Peter Agius has said.

Now that the end of the programme of EU funds that former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had negotiated is near, it is up to Labour to “sow the red strings” and secure a strong EU funding package for the upcoming period, Agius said.

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“From the looks of it so far, Labour is not a good tailor,” he however lamented in an opinion piece published in The Malta Independent today. 

“We secured strong EU funding packages in 2007 and 2013 because we understood how to fit Malta’s priorities into the Union’s budgetary headings and policies; That ability is now nowhere in sight”, he said.

Citing various projects such as the gas-fired power station, the Gozo tunnel, the “phantom” metro and the supposed drive for AI and the recently launched National Space Strategy, Agius said that “this government seems to still lack the ability to conjugate Maltese priorities with EU funding possibilities”. 

He called for the government to plan ahead so to continue to benefit from EU funds, expertise and cooperation and to look more intensively towards direct funding programmes which award grants to private operators in a quality competition of projects submitted from all member states.

A brief look at statistics for the SME instrument reveals that Malta has the lowest success rate in Europe when it comes to these direct funding projects.

In the upcoming EU budget – which will cater for the period between 2021 and 2027 – more emphasis will be put on these direct funds, Agius said before adding that the government must empower Maltese businesses, civil society and educational establishments to be able to reap more fruit from this section of the next EU budget.

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