The Malta Independent 17 June 2024, Monday
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Robert Abela launches Labour Party MEP electoral manifesto

Thursday, 16 May 2024, 20:13 Last update: about 1 month ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela launched the Labour Party's electoral manifesto for the European Parliament elections during a political activity on Thursday evening.

The manifesto has 10 categories, these are: "1) Malta first firm in our beliefs, 2) Malta: the voice of peace, 3) A competitive Malta in a fair single market, 4) Climate change, 5) Immigration, 6) Stronger connectivity, 7) Gozo an island of villages, 8) European funds, 9) Agriculture and fisheries, and 10) The future of the European Union."


During the political activity, he touched on a number of the manifesto points. "We have a manifesto that is based on 10 principles, about how we believe Europe should form its strategy for the coming five years. What are our country's priorities in the EU, what are the priorities that our country wants to push forward? In order to talk about priorities, I believe you need to have a principle that would encompass everything, that of 'Malta first and foremost'."

This, he said, goes beyond a political slogan. He said that it is a principle of belief as, "if your priority is your personal career advancement, or what post you can take in Brussels, the country's priorities can never come first for you as to reach your goal you would need to make compromises with what is good for your country. This is why we are clear, the interests of the Maltese and Gozitans come first for us."

Abela said that one argument the government makes at EU level is that Malta has particular realities, mentioning the country's geographical position.  He said that there are many currents in Europe pushing to remove the energy subsidy. He said that "if we don't have strong MEPs who for them the interest of the country comes first, then we would not be able to conduct that fight well."

The energy subsidy provided stability, he said. "This country has challenges that other countries don't have. In the energy sector, who will go to the European Parliament and explain that Malta is the only EU country that doesn't have a direct connection for natural gas, maybe also because there were those who caused damage when we tried to get the gas pipeline project."

He also spoke about logistics, and said that someone who wants to export needs to use ships or planes, and so expenses are higher than other countries. "That is why you need MEPs that truly give priority to these realities and work to counterbalance the geographical disadvantages."

He said that 'others' are attacking to paralyse EU funds for Malta. "This is also something our MEPs need to strongly resist. There were those who alleged abuse of EU funds purely to cause damage to the country. See if you can find an MEPs from other countries doing what David Casa does with regards to his country. See if you can find MEPs who work strategically to damage their country."

Turning to EU funds, the Prime Minister said that Malta in 2020 managed to get more than double of what the PN government managed to negotiate, a total of €2.1bn. He said these funds are used to invest in infrastructure, environmental projects, health projects and more. He said that most people have, indirectly or directly, benefitted from EU funds.  "The more funds you have (as a country), the more you can disperse, the more you can invest in education," he said, mentioning work on a school in Nadur. "EU funds are also used to incentivise the agriculture sector and the fisheries sector, along with national funds," he said. "Look at how much in EU funds we mobilised to help farmers and fishermen invest in more efficient equipment," he said.

He also said that when it came to allocating EU funds, they ringfenced funds for Gozo.

Abela said that if there is one principle that he truly has close to his heart, it is peace. "The importance of this principle continues to grow," he said, mentioning the deaths in the Gaza conflict. "How can we accept a situation where there are those who try to prejudice our country's principle of neutrality . How can we have those who, when on 7 October there were unjust attacks, take a perilous position going to Israel, shows they are giving support to one side and not the another. The position taken that day was the catalyst for more retaliation," Abela alleged. "That is why when we say there are people with blood on their hands, these are black on white facts."

He spoke about active neutrality. "Active neutrality doesn't mean keeping your eyes closed to the suffering of others, but actively promoting the principles of peace and diplomacy." He also spoke against investment in arms.

Abela turned to competitivity. He said that this is what makes Malta attractive to invest in. "The competitivity we gave as we are a country that is business friendly and incentivises business. With the strength of the country's competitivity, an investor can offer a better product with better prices."

Read the manifesto here




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