Meeting of the CPMR Political Bureau in Gozo
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Minister for European Affairs and Implementation of the Electoral Manifesto Mr Louis Grech and Minister for Gozo Dr Anton Refalo addressed the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) in Gozo.
The CPMR brings together 160 regions from 25 States in the European Union to campaign for a more balanced development of European territory.
During his key note address Mr Grech said that although Brussels is where the Union’s central hub is situated, the actions are carried out by the outer regions. It is the sum of the individual parts, no matter how peripheral they seem on a map, that make up the whole.
Mr Grech maintained that the European Union has been engulfed by dominating issues that if left unaddressed have the potential to derail the European project.
“This fragile time calls for extraordinary collective efforts of vision, leadership and unity to address the legitimate concerns of the citizens, and forge a strong dynamic Europe for its young and future generations. The theme of rEUnion that has been adopted for the Maltese Presidency has at its core the long-term sustainability of the Union,” stated Mr Grech.
He referred to the maritime sector’s significant contribution to economy growth, job creation and innovation. He stated that the sustainability of our oceans, through International Ocean Governance, forms a key part of the agenda and Malta will be pushing for Union-wide agreement on the way forward with respect to ocean governance.
“Continued efforts will be made to push for better connectivity for peripheral and outlaying areas to combat the adverse effects to our climate and environment,” he said.
“To achieve our objectives, we must draw the peripheral regions into the heart of the policy making process. We must translate hope into action in order, once again, to restore faith in the European project among all our citizens – irrespective of where they live,” concluded Mr Grech.
During his welcome address Minister Anton Refalo noted that the challenges of peripheral regions pose a strong sense of attachment and belonging. Regionality must strike a balance between forging a distinctive identity while at the same time not becoming detached from the larger body of which regions are part of.
Dr Refalo recalled the challenges Gozo faces as a result of its double insularity and emphasised that State Aid is an important instrument that must be tailored to the islands’ specific needs in order to create a level playing field and ensure economic, social and territorial cohesion.
Minister Refalo said that the regions can develop their distinctive identities not by diverting from national objectives but by complementing them.
“Whilst Gozo may be small in size, throughout its history Gozo’s inhabitants have repeatedly stood up to be counted for and provided leadership,” said Anton Refalo.
He noted that this is an attribute that peripheral regions need to continually foster – a strong leadership emanating from a sense of attachment and belonging that add legitimacy and trust.
“We hope to serve as an inspiration to others, and to show that there is a space and time when peripheral regions are given the faculty to shape an agenda for the common good, and when that time comes, peripheral regions do not let down,” concluded Minister Refalo.
Photograph MGOZ/George Scerri