Speaking in front of a packed audience during a public meeting in Gozo, MEP Alfred Sant said that, “State intervention is paramount to ensure that Gozo prides itself as a European and a national destination and to further improve its connectivity with Malta and the European continent.”
Sant emphasised that State intervention compensates for Gozo’s double insularity challenges because the private sector by itself cannot finance large scale projects the island needs to keep up with developments in Malta.
Three large projects should be identified for Gozo in the coming years, said the MEP. He also pointed out the importance of identifying a location for a yacht marina, the strengthening of a digital policy, more space for artisan activities and the creation of specific agricultural products in Gozo.
Sant stated that “more should be done to market Gozo as a destination. I believe that Gozitans should be directly involved in decision making and that the same decisions agreed by the Gozitans should be then implemented by the central government in Malta.”
The divergences between North and Southern Europe have increased during the past ten years, said Sant.“Gozo, like other islands and regions in the periphery of Europe, is being effected negatively by the EU policy which does not permit state aid. This policy is detrimental for EU small islands,” he added.
“State aid in small islands like Gozo and Malta does not affect the European market. I will continue to insist in the European Parliament that the State should intervene to help companies like Air Malta and Gozo Channel.”
“I will also continue to cooperate with other MEPs representing EU islands to forward proposals for the benefit of islands like Gozo,” remarked the MEP.
According to Dr Sat, “Malta has learned how to absorb EU funds and compares favourably with larger EU states some of which might be losing up to 30% of EU funds.”
“Malta still has to learn its share from the European Budget (2020-2027) and then it depends on the approved projects to identify Gozo’s share from the European Budget,” he said.
Alfred Sant concluded by saying that, “unfortunately Gozo is not considered as a region by the EU. The Nationalist Party had taken Gozitans for a ride when it promised them that with EU membership Gozo will be treated like a region.”