MEP Alfred Sant was interviewed by journalist Karl Stagno Navarra, during a conference held last night on ‘Malta and Brexit.’
Dr Sant said that Brexit will increase the pressure on all EU countries to join the Eurozone, the pressure to create a common Euro Treasury and the harmonisation of taxes across all EU member states.
“I am convinced that the Maltese Government will remain focused on these developments and safeguards Maltese interests. I am also convinced that the Maltese Government will safeguard economic developments in tourism, financial services and the educational sectors,” he said.
“UK tourism to Malta will depend on the UK economy and there may be positive developments in activities in Malta related to duty free products. British services pensioners will not be affected by Brexit, except for the rate of exchange between the euro and the British Sterling,” remarked the MEP
Dr Sant added that, “the effects on Maltese exportation to the UK must be analysed. One of the first effects of Brexit was the De La Rue decision to keep operating from Malta to secure their presence in the EU. This came during the same time that the Maltese Government brought CRANE to Malta.”
Alfred Sant also pointed out that “Malta has historical, cultural and familiar ties with the UK. Maltese students prefer to pursue their higher studies in the UK, tourism from the UK almost amounts to 50% of arrivals. Malta has in the past used its connections with the UK to introduce financial services.”
“Nonetheless,” he said, “divergences between Malta and the UK have increased due to the fact that Malta, contrary to the UK, is in the eurozone and in the Schengen area.”
“During the past 20 year Malta attracted financial services which contributed enormously to the local economy. Malta, Holland and the UK were vociferous in favour of financial services in the UK,” said Dr Sant.
“This was in sharp contrast with Germany’s and France’s positions on the same subject. In this case Malta will lose a strong ally who defended the operations of financial services in the UK and in our country.”
Reacting to Michel Barnier’s comments on the possibility of no agreement being reached between the UK and the EU, Dr Sant said that this possibility exists but this would involve uncertainty and economic collapse between the two sides.
“British MEPs still hope that the UK will remain in the EU, Dr Sant said. “Former British PM Tony Blair is suggesting there could be another Referendum in the UK on the final negotiations between the UK and the EU.”
“Germany and France have already agreed on new projects in the absence of the UK, which to date is the second largest economy in the EU. I exclude nothing personally, but the urge for Brexit is still there,” remarked the MEP.
He added that, “the two main political parties in the UK agree that the Brexit Referendum was decisive, but disagree on Brexit negotiations. On the other hand the EU has a common front and a ‘smart position’ on the negotiations and the on future relations between the two parties.”
“To date one meeting between the two sides has been held and the process is complicated on subjects like immigration and EU citizens living in the EU and vice-versa. What will happen to the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK and to the one million UK citizens living in the EU?” Dr Sant asked.
“The EU is also contemplating compensation on commitments which include present and future financial current and capital commitments which has already been agreed by the UK which amount between €60 billion and €120 billion, said the Maltese MEP.