Making ourselves heard in Europe
By George Vella, outgoing President of the Malta Business Bureau
In the run up to the European Parliament elections, the Malta Business Bureau held a political debate that injected a European twist to the electoral campaign. This was a refreshing debate, discussing issues that will actually be deliberated at European Parliament level, rather than focusing on local politics, which has regrettably characterised this electoral campaign.
Also, Maltese businesses had the opportunity to inform themselves on how the next European Parliament legislature will affect their day to day operations in the medium to long term future.
However, being informed on the European Parliament’s initiatives is not entirely sufficient without having the ability to influence proceedings in ways that are beneficial for our business environment as a whole. There are two obstacles which currently exist. The first being that Maltese businesses struggle to find the right platform to lobby their positions. The second is that more can be done by MEPs to give their local businesses the stage from which to voice their concerns.
It is imperative that the newly elected MEPs stay in regular contact to exploit the synergies of information. Harnessing the synergies allows for both MEPs and our companies to be better positioned to tackle at an early stage and therefore be adequately prepared in advance in understanding and reacting to new EU legislative proposals issued by the European Commission. Such a process should allow for a more effective system of consultation in a timely manner, aimed at eliciting a stronger and ideally cohesive ‘Malta’ position within the European Parliament, thus ensuring that Maltese business takes an active role in the formulation of EU legislation suited to their particular needs and circumstances.
Throughout the electoral campaign, the MBB has advocated for the elected MEPs to formalize a working relationship between their own teams and the secretariats of business organizations in order to ensure constant contact and collaboration, as well as the mutual sharing of up to date information. We appreciate how hard it is for MEPs to ensure adequate attendance and participation in all the relevant European Parliamentary committees and related activities.
Therefore, in order to ensure effective resource-time management, MEPs should manage their time and participation in those committees where they stand a better chance to leverage influence on the legislative formulation process. Nowhere is the ability to exercise influence at an optimum level more required than in those committees dealing with the regulation of the internal market, services and tourism, thereby having the greatest bearing on the operation of the local business community.
The MBB is hereby committed to provide the institutional interface, along with the support of other key stakeholder bodies, notably MEUSAC and the MCESD in ensuring a revitalized and constructive collaboration between organized civil society and our representatives within the European Parliament. On this final note, I take this opportunity to augur the six elected MEPs a successful legislature.