Gozo stands no chance of benefiting from the Juncker plan, says Sant

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Gozo stands no chance of benefiting from the Juncker plan, says Sant

Alfred Sant in the EP in Strasbourg

EU islands like Gozo stand no chance under the current rules, of benefiting from the Juncker plan for investment, remarked former Prime Minister and Maltese MEP Alfred Sant.

The MEP was voting in favour a resolution on boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions at the European Parliament.

His explanation of vote focused on small island border regions – specifically Gozo – and their difficulties, foremost about the difficulties to absorb EU funding.

Dr Sant said that, “this is not for national reasons but due to the ways by which EU programmes are designed and structured. It is therefore essential that the requirements of peripheral regions, especially small islands like Gozo, are embedded into the planning of such funding programmes.”

He pointed out that insular regions encounter huge difficulties when trying to access, let alone, absorb EU funding

“I voted in favour of this resolution because it highlights genuine concerns about the disadvantages that burden border regions compared to other European regions,” he said.

Dr Sant added, “despite the geopolitical and economic importance of EU border regions, they experience various obstacles in both structural terms, as well as when it comes to get the right regard within EU policy structures – especially when very small islands are concerned.”

“I have in mind the island of Gozo, which is the second largest island of the Maltese archipelago. Islands like Gozo must not only overcome the usual legal and administrative barriers of other cross-border regions. They also face physical obstacles directly affecting the flow of the most basic products and services,” Dr Sant told the European Parliament.

Adopted with 594 votes in favour, 58 against and 35 abstentions – the Resolution refers to internal border regions which generate a quarter of EU GDP representing 40% of the EU territory where 150 million Europeans live.

These regions however face obstacles which hamper their growth, such as legal and administrative barriers which translate into legal uncertainty (e.g. social security issues, recognition of diploma or qualification requirements) for border workers and employees, or insufficient transport network.

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