The Malta Independent 21 January 2021, Thursday

Maltese business manifesto launched

Malta Independent Friday, 14 February 2014, 13:27 Last update: about 8 years ago

Five employers’ associations have been brought together by the European Parliament Office in Malta to produce a “Maltese business manifesto,” in which they state their expectations from the next European Parliament legislature and from Malta’s 6 MEPs.

The manifesto, which carries the headline “We’re in business together,” was launched at a panel discussion this morning, and the associations – the GRTU, the Malta Business Bureau, the Malta Employers Association, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and the Malta Chamber – were each responsible for one of its five chapters.

They also agreed on three general principles, with the first being an emphasis on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality within the EU, as well as an increased awareness of Malta’s particular situation as an island country on the periphery of the EU, which, they point out, restricts Malta’s access to economies of scale and to larger markets. The associations argue that practical compensatory measures are needed to make up for these natural disadvantages.

The associations also call for smarter regulation leading to a reduction in bureaucracy, insisting that self-regulation should be promoted and over-regulation avoided at all costs.

The third general principle is a trust relationship with business as the engine of the Maltese and European economy. The associations insist on the promotion of a pro-business mentality which encourages entrepreneurship, as well as an enhanced role for business in the promotion of the EU’s objectives.

The lack of effective communication appears to be a sore point, with the associations insisting that MEPs should stay in constant contact with them to ensure that both are up to date with developments at the EU and Maltese businesses’ position towards it.

MEPs are urged to divide their time and participation in committees to ensure that Maltese influence is maximised in the five parliamentary committees more relevant to businesses. Where it is impossible for Maltese MEPs to participate, they are urged to create concrete links with other MEPs to channel Malta’s position through them.

The manifesto also pays a particular attention to SMEs – according to the EU’s definition, 99.8% of Maltese enterprises are SMEs, and most of them are micro-enterprises with fewer than 10 employees.

At the launch, Joanna Drake, who is the director for the promotion of competitiveness and SMEs within the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enterprise, stressed that one had to be bold to protect SME’s turf at a time when entrepreneurship was decreasing. She noted that there was a need to simplify and reduce regulations, and outlined access to markets and access to finance as key concerns.

Two lobbyists – Business Europe senior policy adviser Christian Feustel and Maltese lawyer John Vassallo – then emphasised businesses’ need to get their message across in Europe.

Mr Feustel stressed that business should not limit themselves to contacting their MEPs, but also get involved at the EU level. He also insisted that there was a lot of stake in next May’s European elections, since extremist parties were expected to make gains which, he hoped, would be countered by a high voter turnout.

Dr Vassallo, a former ambassador of Malta to the EU, argued that it was futile to simply react to legislation that has already been approved, and called for business to seek to influence policymaking, explaining that this process took time but could bring the best results. He noted that this has led to the number of lobbyists in Brussels increasing from around 500 25 years ago to some 25,000 today.

He also urged the business representatives present to ensure that their message is as simple as possible – and to repeat it as much as necessary – to ensure that it gets across to as many MEPs as possible.

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