Tuesday 13th May 2014, Malta – A political debate, held by the Malta Business Bureau, highlighted that safeguarding competitiveness through economic growth, environmental protection, and social responsibility should be priority for the next European Parliament legislature.
The debate, entitled “European Elections – Debating the Real European Issues” focused on issues at a European level which will be tackled by the newly elected European Parliament over the next five years. Such issues will also have a profound impact upon the business community at large.
MEP candidates, nominated by the three main political parties, participated in the debate; Marlene Mizzi MEP (Partit Laburista), Helga Ellul (Partit Nazzjonalista), and Carmel Cacopardo (Alternattiva Demokratika). The debate was moderated by Ms. Vanessa Macdonald, Business Editor at The Times of Malta. Topics for discussion included curbing budget deficits, the business environment and energy policy.
All parties agreed that reducing national budget deficits is of extreme importance in order to maintain a competitive environment for business. The European People’s Party believes that economic stimulus and austerity should go hand in hand.
Ms Ellul explained further, “We must consolidate our finances and control public spending. There must be a very fine balance between austerity and economic stimulus”.
On the issue of the business environment, it was stressed that job creation is crucial. However, this can only come about if the right conditions are created for SMEs to be able to grow further, leading to increased employment.
MEP Mizzi pointed towards the ten-point plan drawn up by the Socialist Party in the European Parliament, entitled ‘Europe Back to Work’ which aims to facilitate such measures. She stated that, “The fulcrum of this ten-point plan is the SMEs themselves. Jobs cannot be created without the optimum environment being created for SMEs to grow.”
Energy policy was also discussed, with particular reference being made to the European Renewable Energy Community being proposed by the European Green Party. This proposal aims at addressing the need to stimulate the green economy in renewable energy.
“Setting up a Renewable Energy Community would go a long way to facilitate research and innovation in the sector, while paving the way for commercially viable projects which could produce renewable energy,” claimed Mr. Cacopardo.
George Vella, President of the Malta Business Bureau, closed the event by citing the importance of constant communication between the newly elected MEPs and their teams, and business intermediary bodies such as the MBB.
“It is imperative that the newly elected MEPs keep a solid link with Maltese business. In return, Maltese businesses should take a more active role in the design of European legislation through their MEPs,” Mr Vella said.
The event was also addressed by Anton Borg, Deputy President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, and Paul Bugeja, President of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. This debate was held with the support of the European Parliament Office in Malta, the Hotel Phoenicia and The Times of Malta.