A resolution on boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions has been adopted by the European Parliament with 594 votes in favour, 58 against and 35 abstentions.
Voting in favour, former Prime Minister Alfred Sant said under current rules, EU islands like Gozo stood no chance of benefitting from the Juncker plan for investment.
Dr Sant’s explanation of vote focused on small island border regions – specifically Gozo – and their difficulties, especially to absorb EU funding.
“This is not for national reasons but due to the ways by which EU programmes are designed and structured. It is, therefore, essential that the requirements of peripheral regions, especially small islands like Gozo, are embedded into the planning of such funding programmes,” he said.
Dr Sant, an MEP, said that insular regions encounter huge difficulties when trying to access, let alone, absorb EU funding.
“I voted in favour of this resolution because it highlights genuine concerns about the disadvantages that burden border regions compared to other European regions. Despite the geopolitical and economic importance of EU border regions, they experience various obstacles in both structural terms, as well as when it comes to get the right regard within EU policy structures – especially when very small islands are concerned.”
Islands like Gozo, he said, must not only overcome the usual legal and administrative barriers of other cross-border regions, they also faced physical obstacles directly affecting the flow of the most basic products and services.
The resolution refers to internal border regions which generate a quarter of EU GDP representing 40% of the EU territory where 150 million Europeans live.
These regions face obstacles which hamper growth, such as legal and administrative barriers, which translate into legal uncertainty for border workers and employees, or insufficient transport network.