Video – “Gozo can benefit from more EU funds which ensure new job opportunities for Gozitan youths in Gozo and greater efforts should be encouraged in mobilising EU funds to create new economic activity in Gozo.” The Head of the Labour Delegation at the European Parliament Dr Alfred Sant said he would continue to drum the point in the European Parliament and elsewhere that special treatment should be given to Gozo’s challenges when EU policies are being applied.
Dr. Alfred Sant, who was addressing a Seminar ‘Gozitans’ Aspirations in Europe,’ at the Hotel Ta’ Cenc, Sannat Gozo, said that the Government, by means of the Gozo Ministry and of the Parliamentary Secretariat organising EU structural funds in Malta, “is already doing a splendid job in this regard.”
The conference was organised by MP, Dr. Alfred Sant in collaboration with the S&D group.
“I will do this in the fields of transport, tourism, agriculture, industry and artisanal projects, small and medium industries, financial services, digital support. The first priority must be that of continuing to emphasise that European policies, where they can be of help to Gozo, must fit Gozitan realities when EU policies are being applied. Special treatment should be given to Gozo’s challenges.”
Dr. Sant said “Gozo crucially needs to harness its own young talent and endeavour to the task of creating new projects on the island. “We must reverse the flow of young people seeking to live and work in Malta and farther away, when they finish their schooling. They need to find jobs in Gozo. Better still, they need to create viable jobs for themselves and others in Gozo. Gozo needs to prospect niches of activities in which young Gozitans can start working on new projects in Gozo itself.”
He added that, “to be sure, already this is being envisaged through the incubation unit that is being proposed for Gozo. May the project be a huge success. It would be a good idea if the government could make an extra effort in the investment field to mobilise even more funds, not necessarily a lot, to serve as counterparts in other programmes of the EU, which support new projects.’
“A case in point is the EU’s INTERREG programme which funds projects that connect units in peripheral regions and isolated islands.” said Dr. Sant. “Such projects are cofinanced between the regions/islands networking together, and the EU. A typical project would cost less than 3 million euro, 85% of which would come from the EU, the rest from the regions involved, through their central governments.”
He stated that, “such projects would serve to give exposure and jobs to Gozitan young people interested in creating new initiatives in Gozo.”
Dr. Sant said it seems that we are still not equipped to exploit the possibilities offered by programmes such as INTERREG. “I make it as my promise here to take action at the level of the European Parliament and other fora, to encourage new initiatives in this area, with a view to creating a model by which young people in Gozo could set about starting small scale projects that provide new jobs in Gozo.”
Dr. Sant said that the accounts heard during the seminar confirm the reality of a Gozo which despite the great progress of the last two years, “still feels isolated and needing long term support to reduce the disparity between its situation and that of Malta, as well as of the central regions of the EU. Other island and peripheral regions of the EU feel the same way.”
Dr Alfred Sant concluded by saying, that “the question is: can the EU be of help in this process? The truth is that over the years, economic divergences have risen, not dropped, between the better endowed regions of Europe and those which are less developed. Contributing to this has been the ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ of the EU, which has not been sensitive to the needs of peripheral regions, large or tiny.”
The Gozo University Group (GUG) said that it has just concluded an in depth survey together with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), which involved a representative number of students as respondents. The survey was launched during the ‘Gozitans Aspirations in Europe’ conference where the group presented some of their most significant results.
A random sample of 326 students was chosen, and they were asked by telephone what they thought about certain proposals and issues. Various statistics have given a clear idea of what the group (GUG) should focus on to improve life for Gozitan students. The main issues discussed in the survey where: – The Fast Ferry Service, European opportunities, job opportunities in Gozo, Accommodation and the Gozo Campus.
With regards to the fast ferry service, a proposal that GUG has openly supported for some time, there was significant support, with 84% of the sample keen on using such a service. Whereas when asked about the tunnel, 74% were in favour, showing that there is a slight preference for the fast ferry. Moreover 75% of the students agreed that the EU should also help fund the fast ferry project.
On the other hand, Gozitan students are worried with regards to the promotion of Gozo as an island. A majority of 55% pointed out that the EU is not promoting Gozo enough. Meanwhile, it seems that a lot of Gozitan students are keen to leave the island in order to further their careers in other EU countries, with 54% stating they would like to develop their careers abroad.
With respect to jobs in Gozo, the respondents were asked to indicate from a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest, on how likely they think they can find a job in their area of studies, in Gozo. Quite as expected, a very low 3.28 was the average number chosen by students, a contrast with the average number of 8.20 chosen by students believing that Malta will cater their employment in the future.
Furthermore, Gozitan students also seemed to be supportive of the Msida hostel proposal with 76% of the students ranking its importance above a 7 out of 10. The survey also asked students questions regarding the Gozo Campus in which a statistic of 66% would rather study in Gozo if their courses were to be offered. Also, 69% of the students stating they would still use the hostel even if a fast ferry service was available.
The Gozo University Group said that this brief overview of the some of the results, which will be published in a full report and will be available for students and officials alike.
GUG said that it is set up in order to represent the Gozitan students’ interests and opinions, “thus such a survey is vital as it encapsulates what we as an organisation will strive for, for the benefit of Gozo and its future.