Borg sees good prospects for Libya friendship agreement

Malta has smallest number of infringement proceedings in EU

Foreign Minister Tonio Borg seen when he addressed the UN General Assembly a few weeks ago.

Foreign Minister Tonio Borg seen when he addressed the UN General Assembly a few weeks ago.

Relations between Malta and Libya were excellent and there were good prospects for the signing of a Malta-Libya Friendship and Partnership Agreement, Foreign Minister Tonio Borg told Parliament this morning.

The possible agreement was discussed last week when Dr Borg visited Tripoli for talks with his counterpart Mousa Kousa.

Giving an overview of the work of his ministry during the Budget debate, Dr Borg said that visas issued to Libyan nationals had increased from 7,500 in 2008 to 12,300 during the first ten months of 2010.

Malta, Dr Borg said, had played a significant role in the Framework Agreement reached between the European Commission and Libya governing relations between the two sides. Malta was also backing the view that Libya should be financially assisted to enhance its border controls in order to control migration.

Malta, Dr Borg said, was also enjoying a ‘special relationship’ with Italy. Among developments over the past months, was the decision taken by Italy whereby Malta was removed from a black list in company taxation. An agreement on health services was also signed, and negotiations are underway on an updated cultural agreement.

Malta’s performance within the EU

When he spoke on Malta’s activities within the EU, Dr Borg said that Malta should be proud of its track record in that it had the lowest number of infringement proceedings in the bloc. From 67 in 2007, these have gone down to 16 this year. However, the minister stressed, when Malta disagreed with the interpretation of EU directives given by the EU executive, it would defend its corner even if this meant going before the European Court of Justice.

Dr Borg said that 55 projects were currently benefiting from € 296 million in EU Structural Funds. Five project were receiving € 175 million of Cohesion Funds and 42 projects were benefiting from €76 million of European Social Funds. All this showed good administration by the government to tap EU funding opportunities.

In his speech Dr Borg renewed Malta’s calls for progress towards peace in the Middle East.

Malta, he added, would next week be hosting the first regional Mediterranean conference of the United Nations’ Alliance of Civilisations, to be attended by a number of Foreign Ministers. Malta has also continuously pursued the setting up of the Union for the Mediterranean, and is represented through one of the six Deputy Secretary Generals out of 43 Member States.

The highlight however, would be the 5+5 Heads of Government Meeting to be held in Malta next year. This would see the participation of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, Libyan Leader Gaddafi and French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

Earlier in the debate several MPs tribute to the late Guido de Marco, who had served as Foreign Minister.

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