EU summit: Big step forward for Malta - Gonzi
Malta was offered around €680 million during the EU summit on the budget for the next seven years which came to a close today without a final agreement.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi described the summit as "constructive" and "positive" and said a final agreement was expected to be reached early next year as Council president Herman Van Rompuy has been tasked with seeking a compromise over the next few weeks.
Dr Gonzi welcomed the fact that Mr Van Rompuy appreciated the arguments made by Malta to the extent that the initial figure offered to Malta increased by €200 million, from €480 million.
He said this was still an unacceptable figure for Malta, which would continue to push its arguments forward for more money, however he acknowledged that this was a big step in the right direction.
Dr Gonzi said nothing was final until a deal was agreed upon unanimously by all 27 countries but it was positive that Malta's arguments were taken on.
The main argument is that though Malta seems to have emerged from the group of least developed countries (Objective One), its particular circumstances call for a "special transition period". A drastic cut in EU funding would be too big a shock for Malta, which enjoys a special status of being an island region, cut off from mainland Europe.
Dr Gonzi thanked his "incredible" delegation, namely the Permanent Representative Marlene Bonnici and her team of number-crunchers. Dr Gonzi also thanked Ms Bonnici's predecessor Richard Cachia Caruana whose technical expertise were also utilised during the summit in bilateral meetings.
Malta, which enjoyed funds of €855 million for the past seven years, was originally offered a sober €534 million which further deteriorated to €480 million before the summit began.