Maltese presidency kickstarts

EPA / DOMENIC AQUILINA

Jean-Claude Juncker (R), President of the European Union signs the visitors book alongside Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (L) at the Auberge de Castille in Valletta, Malta, 11 January 2017.

“We are very much swimming in the same channels, in the same direction,” said Juncker on the six priorities of the Maltese Presidency.


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Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat welcomed the College of Commissioners in Malta, appearing hopeful for this Maltese Presidency, having faith in EU member states and work in unity.

European Commmission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that this is the sixth time he is visiting the island, when he was campaigning to get Malta in the EU, while socialist Muscat was campaigning against. “I was campaining for this country against the socialists,” said Juncker. “Against me”, answered Muscat, with Juncker responding with humour: “He lost, I won”.

“You are a local winner, I am a global winner,” added Juncker. “Despite all this, the Prime Minister and myself enjoy a very good personal relationship,” added the Commission President, adding that the two have cooperated for the first Maltese Presidency. “Malta is now a member of the EU for 13 years, it is the first time that Malta is in the chair of the Presidency,” Juncker added.

Migration: “Valletta has no silver bullet”

Focusing on migration, Muscat suggested that Malta does not have the “silver bullet” but the Maltese government will try to influence positively on the issue, as Malta’s position has always been open for burden sharing and that even when experiencing an influx of migrants from North Africa, the country offered its solidarity.

“Migration issue is of vital importance and I am quite confident that the Maltese Presidency will allow us to make the progress that is desperately needed with proposals connected with the work of the outgoing Slovak Presidency,” added President Juncker, appearing confident that progress will be achieved.

“We should stop blaming the people for electing politicians with extreme ideas. The public is asking the right answers but politicians are giving the wrong answers, but these are the only answers they are getting,” said Muscat.

On Brexit, Muscat suggested that the UK will get a fair deal, that, however, does not mean the same as staying a full member of the EU.

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