The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

Government launches Brexit readiness action plan

Thursday, 12 November 2020, 18:44 Last update: about 21 days ago

Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Evarist Bartolo and Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi launched the Government of Malta’s action plan in preparation for Brexit. 

At a press conference, with the participation of the President of the Chamber of Commerce, David Xuereb, and the Director General of the EU Coordination Department, Glenn Micallef, they presented the action plan document, which comprehensively covers all ongoing preparations to ensure everyone’s readiness for any scenario related to Brexit. 

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The action plan covers the most important areas including transport, travel and connectivity with the UK. It also refers to the rights of citizens, both Maltese living in the United Kingdom and British citizens residing in Malta. 

On trade, the document provides information on the impact of the rules for the import and export of goods and services, the impact on the professional qualifications of employees, and also on the new procedures and tariffs that will apply from January 1, 2021. 

In this context, the action plan explains in detail the assistance that the government is offering through its entities, such as the professional assistance provided by Malta Enterprise to companies in order to mitigate the impact of Brexit on their operations.

In his address, Minister Evarist Bartolo said that while we should allow the EU’s special delegate to negotiate on our behalf on matters which fall within the Union’s competences, as a sovereign state Malta must also pay attention to our bilateral relations with the UK, which date back more than two centuries. 

In this context, he referred to the existing arrangements between the two countries with regard to health and special care, which the government intends to strengthen in order to safeguard the best interests of its citizens, irrespective of the outcome of negotiations at the EU level. 

Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said that the government is ensuring that irrespective of whether we have an agreement on the UK’s future relations with the European Union, Malta will be ready for every eventuality, both on the part of the government, as well as all private sectors. 

The parliamentary secretary continued by highlighting the importance of the private sector ensuring that all steps are taken to prepare for changes in the very near future. He added that the government has taken all measures in order to increase administrative resources in entities such as the customs department where courses aimed at commercial entities are being prepared in case they are requested. 

Also addressing the press conference, the Malta Chamber President David Xuereb said that discussions between the UK and the EU were geared towards an agreement, however this remained elusive. “We are cautiously optimistic however we know that by the end of the year there might be a no-deal exit. We urge businesses to remain continuously updated,” he said, urging businesses to participate in a series of upcoming information sessions the Chamber was organising together with the relevant Ministry.

Xuereb also urged businesses to speak with their suppliers and counterparts in the UK as soon as possible, in order to make sure that their businesses would be in a position to function post-December 31. 

He Xuereb noted how the Chamber had been following the developments around the Brexit negotiations through its partner organisations at EU level Business Europe and Eurochambres, as well as through the Malta Business Bureau. In fact, as long as Brexit had been on the cards, The Malta Chamber had organised a number of events on the subject and kept the members of Malta’s business community well informed on the developments. 

“With just 50 days to the end of this transition period, it is now time to take necessary action to safeguard our businesses” Xuereb said, as he urged companies to come forward and contact the Chamber for more information and assistance on the subject. 

For more information one should follow the official pages of the ‘Brexit - Be Prepared’ campaign and access the website www.brexit.gov.mt. Direct assistance is also being provided to citizens and businesses, both via the Brexit helpline 153 and via e-mail at [email protected] where individual questions are being answered specifically.

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