In a strong speech on the future EU budget, Roberta Metsola made the case for increased EU funding for Gozo, calling for flexibility and specific solutions for islands and regions where growth has not been at the same rate as the national level.
MEP Metsola said “One of the criticisms we face is that Europe is too bureaucratic and too rigid – so it is important that we are able to illustrate what EU funds do for people every day. We have to make sure no citizens are left behind - I am referring specifically to islands like Gozo where economic growth has not matched Malta’s. These cannot be ignored when it comes to EU funds. We must find a way forward”.
Commenting after her speech, MEP Metsola said that “European Union funding can help in boosting Gozo economy. When Malta joined the European Union, a so-called Gozo declaration, accepted by the European Commission, was annexed to our accession agreement that obliges the EU to report on the disparities between Gozo and Malta, and to take that into consideration in budget allocations. It means that Gozo could remain eligible for funding, irrespective of the situation in Malta. Its proper application depends on the government applying pressure on European authorities. We are doing our bit from the European Parliament, but with EU budget negotiations under way, it is time for the government to put Gozo front and centre. Do not leave Gozo behind.”
During the debate with Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger, MEP Metsola spoke about the need to increase funding for the EU’s programme Erasmus. She welcomes the proposed increase in budget but added “Doubling the funds is good, but it’s still not enough for our flagship programme that shapes hearts, minds and futures of Young Europeans. Let’s be bold and reaffirm our European ideals - And there is no better place to start than Erasmus”
On migration, MEP Metsola welcomed the tripling in EU budget to manage the issue, saying that “it will help to both manage our borders - with an additional 10,000 border guards - and respond to those in need of protection. More flexibility means being able to respond effectively to unpredictable geo-political realities. This was badly needed.”
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 219 Members from 28 Member States