The Government, in a statement this evening, said that it has officially requested the European Commission to report to the European Council on the economic and social situation of Gozo and, in particular, on the disparities in the social and economic development levels between Gozo and Malta.
The Government explained that it has done so as part of the ongoing discussions on the future of the European Union Budget and on the basis of Declaration 36 on the island region of Gozo annexed to the Treaty of Accession of Malta.
“The Government is convinced that further efforts are required to adequately support island territories to ensure that these regions are not undermined by the territorial handicaps that these regions face,” it added.
The Government explained that this declaration calls for action to be taken before the end of each budgetary period in an effort to mitigate these challenges in future periods.
The Government went on to say that it believes that in order to address the specific situation of Gozo, “a tailor-made approach” specific to the needs of Gozo is required with the aim of bolstering the island’s economic activity whilst protecting its inherent and distinctive natural features.
10% of Structural and Cohesion Funds have been earmarked during the last two programming periods, specifically to address the needs of the island of Gozo the Government said.
Cognisant of the investment undertaken in recent years in a number of areas in Gozo, such as basic infrastructure in transport and environment, tourism and health-related projects as well as training and employment opportunities; a comparison of socio-economic development levels, indicate that notwithstanding the investment made, the Government said that disparities still persist and that the development of the island of Gozo lags behind that of Malta, primarily for reasons relating to its double insularity.
The Government, within this context, has invited the European Commission to propose appropriate measures, to enable the further integration of Gozo within the internal market.
Whilst this approach aims to provide a renewed impetus for the development of the island of Gozo, the objective is to foster sustainable development within Gozo which will contribute towards a better quality of life in Gozo for today’s generation for those in the future.
Photograph by Alain Salvary
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