Former Prime Minister Alfred Sant said that if the European Commisison is not interested in promoting new agricultural projects in Malta, these initiatives should be taken by the Maltese nation to ensure the sustainabile operations of Maltese farmers and animal breeders in Malta and Gozo. Dr. Sant said that statistics provided by the Commission show that agriculture has been showing negative signs during the last years. The Eurostat brief of December 2014 and other EU agricultural statistics state that nothwithstanding a few exceptions, Malta has a constant negative outturn in the agricultural sector.

Dr. Sant was reacting after the Commission told him there was no need for new proposals that would provide specific conditions for the Maltese agricultural sector. ‘The EC is not interested in the problems Maltese and Gozitan farmers and animal breeders are facing. The Commission does not seem preoccupied with the downward trend in the agricultural sector due to the small size of the Malta islands. We must keep insisting on the value of agriculture in Malta and Gozo.’ reiterated Alfred Sant.

Dr. Sant asked the EC whether it agreed with the view that agriculture in Malta, which to date operates under the most stringent conditions existing in the EU, needs to be maintained. Dr. Sant also asked the Commission if it agrees that the implementation of the common agricultural policy to Maltese faming is proving to be counterproductive and will lead to its dying out.

Replying to Dr. Sant, Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development , denied that the common agricultural policy affected negatively agriculture in Malta. It said that rural development policy allows for a flexible approach and provides Member States with the possibility to design a tailor-made programme taking into account the specificities of the programme area.

The Commission said the Maltese Rural Development Programme for the programming period 2014-2020, is still under consideration. The new system of direct payments to farmers also provides Member States with a large degree of flexibility to address Member States’ specificities.

Hogan said the Common Agricultural Policy provides support to ensure that farming activity remains in place throughout the European territory, including parts of Europe where farming is particularly difficult, such as hilly, mountainous, insular and/or remote areas. The Commission noted that the allocation for Malta under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development for the programming period 2014-2020 was considerably increased to €99 million.

Maltese Version

‘L-UE MHUX INTERESSATA FIL-PROBLEMI SPEĊIFIĊI TAL-BIEDJA MALTIJA’

Alfred Sant qal li jekk il-Kummissjoni Ewropea mhijiex interessata li tippromwovi proġetti agrikoli ġodda f’Malta, għandna nagħmluh aħna bħala pajjiz biex niżguraw li l-bdiewa u r-raħħala ma jinqerdux minn fostna. ‘Hi ħaġa ċara li minn Brussell, il-Kummissjoni Ewropea mhix tapprezza l-problemi tal-bdiewa u r-raħħala Maltin. L-istatistika stess tagħha turi li l-agrikoltura Maltija marret lura fl-aħħar għaxar snin. Dan ma jimportax għall-Kummissjoni Ewropea, ovvja għax jaraw is-settur agrikolu Malti bħala ċkejken wisq. Irridu nibqgħu nisħqu fuq is-siwi għal Malta tas-settur tal-biedja”. Ir-Rapport Annwali tal-Agrikoltura maħruġ mill-Kummissjoni Ewropea, iddikjara li għajr għal ftit eċċezzjonijiet, Malta għandha eżitu negattiv kostanti f’dan is-settur.

Il-Kap tad-Delegazzjoni Maltija tal-S&D fil-Parlament Ewropew irreaġixxa wara l-Kummissjoni Ewropea qalet li ma kienx hemm bżonn ta’ proposti ġodda għal kundizzjonijiet speċifiċi fis-settur agrikolu Malti. ‘Il-Kummissjoni Ewropea mhix interessata fil-problemi tal-bdiewa u raħħala Maltin u Għawdxin. Il-KE mhux imħassba dwar is-sinjali negattivi fl-agrikultura Maltija. Irridu nibqgħu ninsistu fuq il-valur tal-biedja f’Malta u f’Għawdex’. Saħaq Dr. Sant.

Alfred Sant staqsa lill-KE hix lesta tqis proposti ġodda li jipprevedu kundizzjonijiet speċifiċi għall-operat tal-agrikoltura Maltija addattata għan-niċċa ferm speċifika li topera fiha. Sant staqsa lill-KE taqbilx mal-fehma li tkun sostnuta l-agrikoltura f’Malta, li s’issa topera skont l-aktar kundizzjonijiet stretti li jeżistu fl-Unjoni Ewropea. Staqsa wkoll jekk il-KE taqbilx li l-Politika Agrikola Komuni ghall-Biedja Maltija hix kontroproduttiva u se twassal għall-qerda tagħha f’Malta.

Phil Hogan, Kummissarju Ewropew qal li l-Politika Agrikola Komuni tagħti appoġġ biex tassigura li l-attività agrikola tibqa’ ħajja fit-territorju kollu tal-Ewropa, anki f’partijiet tal-Ewropa fejn il-biedja hija partikolarment diffiċli, bħall-għoljiet, il-muntanji, u ż-żoni insulari u/jew żoni remoti. Hogan qal li l-allokazzjoni għal Malta mill-Fond Agrikolu Ewropew għall-Iżvilupp Rurali għall-perjodu ta’ programmazzjoni 2014-2020 żdied għal €99 miljun.

Hogan qal li l-politika tal-iżvilupp rurali tagħti l-possibbiltà lill-Istati Membri biex iqisu l-ispeċifikazzjonijiet taż-żona tal-programm u jfasslu programm individwali skont dawn il-ħtiġijiet. Il-Programm għall-Iżvilupp Rurali ta’ Malta għall-perjodu ta’ programmazzjoni 2014-2020 ġie ppreżentat lis-servizzi tal-Kummissjoni fl-01/07/2014 u għadu qed jiġi kkunsidrat. Bis-sistema l-ġdida ta’ pagamenti diretti lill-bdiewa, l-Istati Membri għandhom ukoll grad għoli ta’ flessibbiltà biex jindirizzaw l-ispeċifikazzjonijiet tagħhom.