medNews

MUSCAT "EU REFERENDUM FOR MALTA? IT WOULD BE SUICIDE"

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat insisted any suggestions that Malta should hold an EU in/out referendum would be tantamount to “suicide”.

“We are already witnessing the shock in the UK. Malta has made its choice. We are a success within the EU and will continue to be so. Such talk of leaving would be populist, it would only serve as a threat to jobs”, Muscat said. 

Addressing a news conference, Dr Muscat spoke about the implications on Malta in the wake of the shocking EU exit referendum vote but repeated twice: “Malta is well prepared for the scenario”.

Malta will retain a zero VAT rate on food and medicines, despite the UK’s anticipated exit from the EU, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said this morning. 

During accession negotiations, Malta had obtained a derogation to retain a zero VAT rate on grounds that the UK had set a precedent. Malta had established that the concession had now become permanent. 

Essentially, he said the UK’s exit from the European bloc did not pose any threat to Maltese banks. However, the government has already identified five companies with heavy UK importation which may need Maltese state support. 

There are an estimated 27,000 Maltese living in UK, of whom 1,025 are students. No impact is expected in the coming two years though after the UK’s exit, the fees for third country nationals would double.

“However, there are solutions. EU will discuss deals on this front. If there is no EU deal then we would seek a bilateral agreement between Malta and UK,” he said. 

It was still too early to analyse the impact on tourism but the number of British people visiting the island this summer was not expected to change. 

The UK is lined up to assume the EU presidency after Malta in 2017. Asked whether Malta was prepared to extend its term, Muscat said he would prefer to see Estonia assume that role. Estonia is lined up to take on the EU presidency in the first half of 2018. 

(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

BREXIT, POSSIBLE CHALLENGE TO MALTA'S TOURISM INDUSTRY

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) notes the results of the BREXIT referendum and is currently discussing with the Ministry of Tourism with a view to address possible reactions to the results that may impact the Maltese tourism sector. 

Tourism from the UK represents 30% of the total number of visitors to Malta, contributing just under half a billion euro in 2015 to our economy. MHRA President Tony Zahra states that, “The Brexit results represent an important development in world politics and economics which will have an impact on Malta, including the tourism sector. From a basic economic perspective a weaker sterling will get less euro for its pounds, so it will be more expensive for the British traveller to holiday outside UK. But it’s more complicated than that, especially in terms of British holidaymakers’ behaviour. Past experience has demonstrated that demand for overseas travel by the British traveller is price sensitive. However there are other issues which need to be considered such as the impact on the freedom of the skies and its effect on airlines including Airmalta, travel insurance policies, and the general impact that may result as a result of instability.” 

Towards this end MHRA will be organising a seminar next week addressing these matters and accordingly what needs to be done to ride the wave. This initiative is being supported by the Ministry of Tourism.

(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

SLOVENIA, COOPERATION WITH THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

The Minister of Economic Development, Zdravko Poivalšek, participated Friday in St. Petersburg at the International Economic Forum where he met senior government officials. In the statement of the Ministry of Economic Development it is highlighted that during the meeting with the Minister of Communications Nikolay Nikiforov has focused on the questions started during the last visit of Po?ivalšek in Moscow last April. Nikiforov has reiterated the interest of some Russian companies to invest in energy and infrastructure, including the construction of the second track Divaa-Koper. Poivalšek was also received by the Vice-Minister for Economic Development, Alexei Likhachev.
(ITALPRESS).


Source: medNews

MALTA, VELLA "PROVIDING YOUNG PEOPLE WITH BETTER PROSPECTS"

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, George Vella, has highlighted Malta’s long-standing position that the only way to address the challenges of migration is to address the underlying causes within countries of origin.
Speaking at a meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting in Luxembourg (Foreign Affairs Council), Minister Vella highlighted the need to focus particular attention on young people. “Providing young people with better prospects is key to combating violent extremism and the causes of migration,” stated the Minister during an exchange on the situation in the Sahel region, which also took stock of the EU comprehensive approach to security and development in the region.
The Minister added that mainstream youth empowerment “should serve to promote education and youth employment in order to provide alternatives to illegal activities.” He called for more focus in EU support in order to enable youth in the region to be agents of positive change.
The Minister also welcomed the commitment expressed by the Sahel G5 countries (Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania, Mali and Chad) to tackle common security and development challenges with the EU during a meeting in Brussels on 17 June. He stated that EU missions in Niger and Mali are contributing to stability and capacity-building in the region, and also encouraged improved engagement between Sahel countries and Libya, notably with regard to border management. During the meeting, Ministers also discussed the Middle East Peace Process (between Palestine and Israel) as a follow up of an international conference which was held in Paris on 3 June. In this regard, Minister Vella commended the French initiative, stating that it was “both timely and necessary to rekindle the prospects of peace talks and keep the two-state solution alive.” Minister Vella also referred to the pending report to be issued by the Quartet (the UN, the United States of America, the EU and Russia) and underlined the importance for the international community to be ready to take steps forward, based on the recommendations of this report.
Other issues which were discussed by the Foreign Affairs Council meeting were the EU integrated Policy for the Arctic and visa liberalisation in the context of EU-Georgia relations. Finally, Ministers also discussed political developments in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
(ITALPRESS/MNA)


Source: medNews

TURKEY IS THE THIRD LARGEST GAS IMPORTER IN EUROPE

Last year, Turkey was third among European countries, after Germany and Italy, for the liquid natural gas imports (LNG) and natural gas through the pipelines. According to the BP World Energy Statistics Report, the natural gas trade reached a total of 704 billion cubic meters last year, an increase of 4% over the previous year.

The report shows that Turkey has purchased a large quantity of LNG and natural gas from Russia and Algeria. In 2015, Germany, Italy and Turkey imported respectively 104, 50 and 40 billion cubic meters.

(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

MALTA, MINISTER HERRERA WELCOMES CIRCULAR ECONOMY ACTION PLAN

The Minister for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change Dr Jose Herrera participated in the EU Council Ministerial Meeting for Environment Ministers held in Luxembourg. This was the last Environment Council meeting of the Dutch Presidency and presented Ministers the opportunity to address various issues, including the Circular Economy Action Plan, the ratification of the Paris Agreement and the amendment for a review of the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
In the margins of the meeting, Minister Herrera met the Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime and Fisheries Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete, the Commission Director General for the Environment Daniel Calleja Crespo, as well as the Commission Director General for Climate Action Jos Delbeke.
Circular Economy Action Plan Malta welcomed the Council conclusions on the Circular Economy Action Plan, which were prepared by the Dutch Presidency. Minister Herrera reiterated Malta’s support for the principles of the Circular Economy and the need to maintain the value of products, materials and resources in the EU economy for as long as possible, whilst minimising the generation of waste.
The Minister highlighted that, although effective waste management is pivotal to ensure the success of the circular economy, it is crucial that all the stages of the value chain are given equal importance in order to successfully close the loop. Malta also highlighted the added value of more efficient use of scarce resources, such as water.
Minister Herrera pointed out that the different starting points and the realities and challenges that Member States face in shifting towards a more circular economy should be duly taken into account at the European level. The Minister explained that Malta’s particular geographical circumstances and lack of economies of scale makes it highly dependent on shipments of waste both within and outside the Union, which require complex logistical and market mechanisms to ensure Malta is able to contribute to a Circular Economy in an affordable manner.
The Minister stated that Malta looks forward to future developments and work in this area on the basis of the Circular Economy Action Plan.
EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) Minister Herrera congratulated the Dutch Presidency on the developments made on this dossier. He stated that the most important aspect which Malta can adhere to is the clear reinforcement that the revision of the ETS Directive needs to remain in line with the guidance set out in the 2014 European Council conclusions.
Minister Herrera said that in Malta’s case, significant importance is attached to the predetermination of the distribution of the overall cap between allowances to be auctioned and free allowances.
While welcoming the concept of an Innovation Fund as part of the Emissions Trading Scheme, the Minister said that the Innovation Fund should not be restricted only to installations that fall within the scheme, but rather it should be open for projects which contribute towards the objective and aim of the Emissions Trading Scheme, and that all Member States should be able to access funds in the context of carbon-reducing measures within the 2030 climate package.
Ratification of the Paris Agreement Minister Herrera thanked the Dutch Presidency for taking stock of the different domestic processes which needed to be respected in all the different Member States for national ratification of the Paris Agreement to occur.
Malta considers it important that the European Union and its Member States send a clear message on their readiness to ratify the Paris Agreement.
(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

ENI: DESCALZI IN ALGERIA, AGREEMENT TO EXTEND LICENSES

The Algerian Minister of Energy, Noureddine Bouterfa, and the Chairman and CEO of the State Oil & Gas Company Sonatrach, Amine Mazouzi, on Tuesday met with Eni CEO, Claudio Descalzi, in Algiers. This latest meeting between the parties follows previous engagements in November 2015 and April 2016. During the meeting, Claudio Descalzi and Amine Mazouzi signed an agreement propaedeutic to the extension of the production licenses for the ROD reservoir, its satellite fields and three fields in Block 403. These are considered to be particularly important assets as their discovery led to the establishment in 1995 of the first Groupement Sonatrach Agip in Algeria (GSA) and marked the start of a strong partnership between Eni and Sonatrach. The renewal of the partnership between Eni and Sonatrach, enshrined in agreement, will bring about an ambitious programme of activities that will include advanced techniques for hydrocarbon recovery. The agreement also lays the foundations for the completion of the unitisation process between the SF field, where Sonatrach has a 100% stake, and the SFNE field, which is jointly operated by Eni and Sonatrach.

With this visit, Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi has renewed the hope of a cooperation ever more fruitful either by re-launching gas development activities in existing concessions in the Country and by embarking on new renewable energy activities. The aim is to further strengthen the partnership between Italy and Algeria and between Eni and Sonatrach by a development model capable of enhancing the existing facilities of Eni and Sonatrach in Algeria.

Eni has been present in Algeria since 1981 and now participates in 32 mining permits. In the period between 2010 and 2015, the company invested $11.5bn in the development of hydrocarbons in Algeria, which represented approximately 26% of the total investment made by all international companies operating in the country. Eni’s production in the country currently amounts to more than 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

PAM CONDEMNS THE TERRORIST ATTACK IN JORDAN

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) unreservedly condemns the hideous terrorist attack on the Jordanian military forces, in which six soldiers and security personnel were killed and fourteen left injured.

PAM recognizes the important role of Jordan as part of the international effort to counter ISIL and all other terrorist groups and affiliates in the region. Furthermore, PAM reiterates its support to Jordan in its humanitarian commitment to assist refugees and displaced families from the Syrian conflict.

PAM takes the opportunity to call on its member parliaments and the international community to take the necessary measures to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, terrorist organizations and individual terrorists, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions 2199 (2015) and 2253 (2015). PAM is also concerned about the current impasse as far as the peace process for the future of Syria is concerned.

PAM expresses its sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, to the Government and Parliament of Jordan, and wish a full recovery to those who were injured.

(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

MALTA AMONG EU COUNTRIES MOST VULNERABLE TO CONSEQUENCES OF BREXIT

Malta, a central Mediterranean country, is one of the 28 member states of the European Union. Probably the smallest in size, demographics and political, economic and financial clout. Yet, its legacy with the United Kingdom as a colony from 1798 to 1964 places it in a privileged relationship with Great Britain, whether within the context of the European Union or not. In the Euro-Mediterranen region, Malta is the only country where English is an official language alongside the national Maltese vernacular. Malta has grown into a flourishing independent republic by adopting and adapting the British way of doing things into a unique combination of pragmatism and Mediterranean creativity. This will certainly change with the new generations having less tangible memories of the colonial times and being more exposed to continental and global affairs and pressures. 

On the above premise, whether the Maltese have a clear opinion on the upoming Brexit Referenum on 23rd June is hard to establish, although together with Ireland and Cyprus, another two countries with very close historic ties to the United Kingdom, Malta would be particularly deeply affected if the UK chooses to leave the EU. The negative effects would mainly be felt in higher export costs, as well as potential barriers to direct British investment on their territories.

At a popular level the issue follows the classical trend of the pro and the anti EU lobbies, without really delving into the nitty gritty details of the consequences this historic referendum would have for the European Union and Malta itself. 

On the political side the position is more articulated. In general both major political parties, the Nationalist Party in opposition, and the Labour Party in government, agree on pushing for Britain to remain both for economic and political reasons.  On his part Prime Minister Joseph Muscat also said that a British exit from the EU could have positive ripple effects on Malta’s financial services industry. “Malta can benefit in that financial services companies based in the City of London might be tempted to relocate to an EU member state”, he added.

The Nationalist Leader, Simon Busuttil, raised the social issue related to the rights of the Maltese relocated in the UK in case the British decide to leave the EU. Britain is a natural destination for Maltese both to further their academic studies and for working purposes. “If the British negotiated a deal at the summit that in some way diminishes social benefits rights for EU citizens working in the UK and the children, does this mean that the rights of the thousands of Maltese living in the UK will be in any way diminished?”, Busuttil is rightly asking.

But historical ties are hard to die. A bilateral agreement on social security and health between Malta and the UK has been in place since 1986, and will still apply in the case of a Brexit.

Martin Micallef

(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

SOVEREIGN ORDER OF MALTA AND ALBANIA SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT

Within the framework of the excellent relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1994, the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Republic of Albania signed in Tirana a cooperation agreement.

Purpose of the agreement is to strengthen and promote the hospitaller, health care, education and disaster risk reductions projects of the Order of Malta in the country.

The agreement was signed by the Albanian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Odeta Barbulluschi and by the Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta to Albania, Stefano Palumbo.

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the Order’s auxiliary organization in Albania, which for over 25 years has been committed to developing activities in medical, social and civil protection fields. Amongst these is the organization of first aid training sessions in schools and reaching out to around 4,000 people living beyond the reach of health care services in remote areas.

(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

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