The Malta Independent 14 November 2019, Thursday

PM Muscat says Brexit deal shows ‘flexibility, goodwill’

Friday, 18 October 2019, 14:15 Last update: about 26 days ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he was satisfied with the Brexit deal, which “demonstrates flexibility and goodwill on both sides”, and defines a temporary mechanism replacing the backstop in Northern Ireland.

“This will allow the Northern Ireland assembly to decide whether to continue implementing the protocol four years after the transition period.”

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On Thursday EU heads of government endorsed an agreement on Brexit, which is still to be ratified by the UK Parliament and European Parliament.

The Prime Minister said European leaders still need to consider next steps if the British Parliament rejects the deal on Saturday.

Discussions also focused on enlargement, with the European Council failing to agree on the opening of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, opting to take more time to make that decision early next year.

The Prime Minister expressed his regret at this failure, and said this “deals a blow to the credibility of the European Union when dealing with partners, especially in sensitive regions such as the Balkans”.

President-elect of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, presented her work programme to the European leaders. The Prime Minister made particular reference to the focus on the New Green Deal, stating that climate-related issues “are not only environmental in nature, but are essentially economic and even social”. He said that while new tools, including fiscal ones, can be considered, these should not hit socially deprived groups in a disproportionate manner.

The European Council also held an exchange of views on the European Union’s Multi-Annual Financial Framework.

 

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