A public discussion with MEP Marlene Mizzi focused on Brexit and its expected impact, with Brexit kicking-off in 35-days time and the million dollar question being “what next?”
MEP Mizzi noted with regret the UK’s decision to leave the EU, adding that “Malta will sorely miss the UK’s presence in tax harmonisation discussions at EU level.”
Making reference to her own Parliamentary report on complementing Union type-approval legislation as part of Brexit preparedness, she emphasised that the way forward was to ensure an climate of continuity, such as continuity in the sale of cars and components. Having such a deal and continuity would benefit citizens and set a constructive tone for what is to come.
“The way to avoid a no-deal is to agree a deal, emphasising that one should keep in mind that this is about people,” said British High Commissioner Stuart Gill.While admitting that the issue of the backstop is the biggest challenge in the whole deal, he added that “the British government is very clear about delivering the results of the referendum but in an orderly way.”
Mr Joseph Brincat, current member of the Custom Department’s International Affairs, focused on the need for preparedness, both in terms of businesses and passengers, in the eventuality of a no deal, highlighting that, in that case, goods imported from the UK would be treated in the same way as those coming from any other third country, that is, with duties and VAT needing to be added until a possible bilateral agreement is reached.
“Brexit has brought up a profound cocktail of issues, the most crucial of which appearing to be the backstop, which by a number is viewed as an important issue in terms of guaranteeing Irish peace but on the other hand signals the break up of the UK in the long term,” remarked Dr Mark Harwood, Director, Institute for European Studies, University of Malta.
Finally, Mr Glenn Micallef, Head of the EU Secretariat at MEAE, observed that notwithstanding the frequent criticism that is given to the EU in being slow and bureaucratic, in the whole Brexit scenario, the EU institutions have acted with alacrity and diligence in what has been a first in the EU’s history, that is, the first time a Member state is exiting the EU.
He noted that the Brexit issue has united the Member States in an unprecedented way, with all respecting the common position.
In an engaged discussion, the public raised from the cost of products that may be subject to duties, to the obstacles that may be faced by traders, to how citizens may be affected, and the possibility of a second referendum and whether the UK may choose to remain in the EU.
“The EU is neither heaven nor hell,” MEP Mizzi said. “Governments and politicians may take the credit for the good things, and blame Brussels for the bad things.”
“The reality is that a lot, and a lot that is good is done in Brussels and the message needs to get through for the people to be informed,” she added.
The public discussion was organised by the EP Office in Malta. The Office’s Acting Head Anna Zammit Vella drew attention to the informative Citizens’ App and the website What Europe Does for me launched by the European Parliament to complement its thistimeimvoting.eu for the upcoming European elections. In Malta elections will take place on 25 May.
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