MaltaToday | 22 June 2008 | Facing the MEUSAC: Forum Malta fl-Ewropa scuttled

NEWS | Sunday, 22 June 2008

Facing the MEUSAC: Forum Malta fl-Ewropa scuttled

Charlot Zahra

It’s the end of the Forum Malta Fl-Ewropa (FME) as we know it, as the Gonzi administration has decided to resuscitate the Malta-EU Steering Action Committee (MEUSAC) after an absence of five years with the declared intention to enhance consultation with the social partners.
Vanni Xuereb, who previously headed the Church’s commission on EU affairs, was parachuted in to restart the whole process from scratch, bypassing current FME Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gabriella Pace, who has been running the show for the past two years.
At face value it is unclear why the government felt the need to take this initiative with regard to EU consultation, when FME had already established a good reputation with all those concerned in the three years that it has been set up.
A spokesperson for Chris Said, the new junior minister for public consultation now politically responsible for EU information, said the government decided to re-establish MEUSAC "after the positive experience of how this committee functioned throughout the EU pre-accession process.
“It was the wish of practically all the members of civil society that this successful consultation tool be established after it functioned so well during the process.
MEUSAC’s role will be that of ensuring wide consultation with civil society on EU legislative proposals. “In this way, the position taken by the Maltese government in European institutions will be the result of wide and meaningful consultation across the Maltese islands,” the spokesperson said.
MEUSAC’s structure will incorporate various committees formed by representatives of organisations. It will be responsible for information related to the EU whilst providing assistance in all possible ways in order to exploit EU opportunities and its funding programmes.
Said’s spokesperson was non-committal about specific dates or timeframes for the setting-up of the new structures: “The Government is currently in the process of establishing all the structures within MEUSAC. MEUSAC is expected to start functioning in a few weeks’ time."
“FME and its employees will be absorbed within MEUSAC,” she said in reply to questions about the future of the Forum’s existing staff.
However, the spokesperson did not reply to MaltaToday’s specific question as to whether the current FME head would also be absorbed into the new structure or not.
For the past three years, FME has handled the process of consultation with the social partners, as well as promoting funding opportunities that the Maltese can benefit from the EU.
This had not been an easy task, in view of the limited staff that FME had for most of its existence.

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