EU Commission says no special status for Gozo – MEP
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Prof Edward Scicluna, Labour MEP for Malta, today took the government to task following a Commission statement revealing that Gozo has no special EU status as an island region.
The Commission’s reply, to a parliamentary question tabled by Prof Scicluna in September, states that the Maltese government did not, as they had promised, mandate the Commission to report on the economic and social situation of Gozo in advance of negotiations on the EU budgetary framework for 2007-2013.
Moreover, the Commission dismissed the value of Declaration 36, annexed to Malta’s accession treaty to the EU, which emphasised the special status of Gozo. The Commission’s reply states not only that the declaration is “a unilateral declaration of Malta” but also that any future analysis of Gozo’s economic and social situation will be made in a purely EU context.
The Declaration was agreed by the Maltese government, with the then Head of the MIC Dr. Simon Busutill MEP, writing that it would “ensure that Gozo’s specific needs are assessed before every new EU budget is agreed upon.”
Speaking in response, Prof Scicluna said:
“Back in 2003 prior to the referendum on EU accession, both the Government and the MIC promised Gozitans that Declaration 36 would secure Gozo’s economic future after Malta joined the EU. The Commission’s reply proves that, despite what they claimed, Gozo has no special EU status.
“Either the Nationalists were intentionally misleading Gozitans prior to the EU referendum or else they were just incompetent. Their treasured Declaration on Gozo is not worth the paper it’s written on.”
Prof Scicluna added:
“The result is that Gozo has suffered because it has been starved of the investment given to similar island regions in the EU and which it had been promised. Since Gozo has no special status the Government can neither give it preferential treatment because it is bound by strict state aid rules.
“The economic gap between Gozo and Malta has increased since 2004 and is increasing. Once again, the Government has failed Gozitans. Safeguarding the economic future of Gozo is one of my main priorities and I will fight for Gozo to be treated fairly in the upcoming EU budget negotiations.”
 Prof Scicluna’s Parliamentary question and the Commission’s reply can be viewed at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+WQ+E-2009-4470+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN
 ‘Aggornat’ of February 2003 Special Edition No 18, http://www.meusac.gov.mt/Portals/FME/Documents/AGGSE18e_Gozo.pdf.