Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana at meeting of the Regions in Norway
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In her first international commitment, the Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana, said how the main message of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU was that the Union be closer to the citizens by addressing their needs and aspirations.
Minister Caruana was speaking at the Meeting of the Political Bureau of the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions (CPMR) held in Stavanger, Norway.
“Although our first commitment to politicians is to mitigate the negative effects that range from isolation, to smaller markets and higher costs, regions like ours also have opportunities in terms of renewable energy and adaptation to climate change, said Dr Caruana.
She added that these opportunities were delivered through more cooperation and sharing of information and experience.
The Minister for Gozo explained how insularity of islands and peripheral regions requires integrated strategies that strengthen regional governments and give their citizens a sense of belonging through active citizenship.
“Indeed aspects such as cohesion and social inclusion, accessibility, the single European market and sustainable development in each area are the tools to meet the challenges and strengthen the potential of regions such as ours,” said Minister Justyne Caruana.
Dr Caruana reiterated her belief that there is a collective responsibility to carry it out, through the design and implementation of EU life-enhancing policies and creating opportunities for all, regardless of whether they fit into Europe’s core or periphery.
“I am against all forms of social exclusion because with personal experience I know that a healthy society does not allow anyone to fall behind. Elderly or disabled people should be given dignity, even in the field of work. They should be able to be contributors and not a burden for the community,” said Minister Caruana.
She mentioned that in the framework of the future of Europe launched by the European Commission earlier this year, the discussions on the future of the Cohesion Policy post-2020 will be vital, on the negotiations on Brexit.
Dr Caruana argued that until now this Policy has become part of the EU’s main investment to counter social, economic and territorial differences across the EU.
Minister Justyne Caruana also appealed for the Cohesion Policy post-2020 to continue to support investment that addresses the needs of the regions in a way that remains unchanged – the main values of cooperation and solidarity.
Dr Caruana concluded by stressing how the experience of the Presidency of the European Union has shown that our country and Gozo as a region have a valuable contribution to make on this agenda.