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Invitation: Press briefing with lead rapporteurs on new anti-SLAPP report


On Tuesday, 11 May from 11.00 CEST, lead MEPs will brief journalists and answer questions on the upcoming report that will seek to protect media and civil society organisations in the EU.

Through the report, to be prepared jointly by the Committees on Legal Affairs and Civil Liberties, MEPs intend to put pressure on the European Commission to come forward with a legislative act against abusive litigation targeting journalists and civil society, the so-called SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation).

The first joint committee discussion on the new anti-SLAPP report will be held on 11 May. After the debate, the two rapporteurs Tiemo Wölken (S&D, DE) and Roberta Metsola (EPP, MT), will brief journalists and answer questions on Parliament’s initiative and next steps of the procedure.

The briefing will be held from 11.00 CEST, on the record via Webex and for media representativesonly. 

Journalists can sign up for the briefing before Monday, 10 May at 16.00 by emailing anna.zammit@europarl.europa.eu. All registered participants will receive a connection link on Monday evening.



Parliament has consistently called on the Commission to propose and apply several policies to safeguard media pluralism and journalists over the years. Since 2018, MEPs have been asking for a specific legislative proposal against SLAPP to protect independent European media and civil society from vexatious lawsuits intended to silence or intimidate them.

On 25 November 2020, the EP adopted a resolution in which, MEPs condemn the use of SLAPP to silence or intimidate investigative journalists and outlets and create a climate of fear around their reporting of certain topics. In the report, SLAPPs are described as a continued practice used to scare journalists into halting investigations into corruption and other matters of public interest.

The Commission is expected to present a media freedom act and an initiative against abusive lawsuits later this year or in 2022.

Conference on the Future of Europe: make your voice heard


The Executive Board approved on 9 May the Rules of Procedure that set out the composition of the Plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe, and how it will work.

The text approved on Europe Day 2021 will complete the rules determining how the Conference Platform, Panels and Plenary can transform citizens’ priorities, hopes and concerns into actionable recommendations. It adds to the rules previously adopted concerning the working methods of the Executive Board and those related to citizens’ participation.

On the same day, the European Parliament in Strasbourg is hosting the inaugural event of the Conference on the Future of Europe. Watch it live here.

Ensuring that citizens’ input will be taken into account

The Conference Plenary will be composed of 108 representatives from the European Parliament, 54 from the Council (two per Member State) and 3 from the European Commission, as well as 108 representatives from all national Parliaments on an equal footing, and citizens. 108 citizens will participate to discuss citizens' ideas stemming from the Citizens' Panels and the Multilingual Digital Platform: 80 representatives from the European Citizens’ Panels, of which at least one-third will be younger than 25, and 27 from national Citizens’ Panels or Conference events (one per Member State), as well as the President of the European Youth Forum.

Some 18 representatives from both the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, and another eight from both social partners and civil society will also take part, while the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will be invited when the international role of the EU is discussed. Representatives of key stakeholders may also be invited. The Conference Plenary will be gender-balanced.


Their exchanges will be structured thematically around recommendations from the Citizens’ Panels and input gathered from the Multilingual Digital Platform. The Platform is the single place where input from all Conference-related events will be collected, analysed and published. In due course, the Plenary will submit its proposals to the Executive Board, who will draw up a report in full collaboration and full transparency with the Plenary, and which will be published on the Multilingual Digital Platform.


The final outcome of the Conference will be presented in a report to the Joint Presidency. The three institutions will examine swiftly how to follow up effectively to this report, each within their own sphere of competences and in accordance with the Treaties.



Parliament’s Co-Chair of the Executive Board, Guy Verhofstadt, said: “We want to create real momentum from the bottom up. The Conference will be much more than a listening exercise, but a way to truly include citizens in mapping out our shared European future. The foundations have been laid: digital and deliberative democratic experiments that have never been tried on an EU-wide scale. We will guarantee that their concerns and proposals will then get a political answer. It’s new and exciting, and it starts today.”

The Portuguese Secretary of State for EU Affairs, and Co-Chair from the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Ana Paula Zacarias, said: “Coming from Porto to Strasbourg, to celebrate Europe Day and the launching of the Conference on the Future of Europe, the words of President Mario Soares came to my mind when back in 1976 he defended: ‘to rethink Europe and its future is a permanent duty of all Europeans. A joint endeavour that needs to be taken forward with humbleness facing the historic relevance of our common goals’."


Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, and Co-Chair, Dubravka Šuica, said: “This Conference is an unprecedented exercise for the EU. We are creating a space where citizens can debate on a par with elected representatives to spell out the future of Europe. This has never been tried before, but we are confident that this will strengthen both our European Union and our representative democracy. And there is no better date to celebrate that than on the 9th May.”


Next steps

The Executive Board will soon set the date for the first Conference Plenary meeting. Preparations for the Citizens’ Panels are underway, while the number of participants and events on the Conference’s Multilingual Digital Platform continue to grow. The Conference is committed to give maximum space to young people and in this vein, preparations for the European Youth Event organised by the European Parliament in October also continue.






MAY 2021


Young, fresh, and new. The Malta launch-video of BOSS x Russell Athletic proves that the energy of these two iconic brands is impossible to contain. To the sounds of hip hop, this basketball-inspired film marks the release of the collaboration in playful, and uplifting style. Set in the iconic locations of Riviera Bay, Spinola Bay, BMX track, Pembroke basketball court, BOSS Store and others, the film stars multi-disciplinary Malta-based talent in a unisex vintage inspired-collection, along with an iconic pink basketball.

The cast includes basketballer Keith Dimech, life coach and nutritionist Ebuni, dancer and choreographer Deedee Clarke, TikToker and healthcare worker, Daniel Umanah, fitness coach Jeremy Portelli, along with Malta’s Got Talent star Sarah Zerafa and boyfriend David Vella… as they get active to showcase the BOSS x Russell Athletic collection with nothing but good vibes. The video was shot and edited by Andrew Mercieca, with storyboard and direction in collaboration with VF Group.

BOSS x Russell Athletic is now available at BOSS Store, Ross Street St Julians and sarto.com.mt/bossxrussellathletic.

Download Video



#BOSSUpYourGame #BOSSxRussellAthletic





Sarah Zerafa, content-creator, award-winning influencer, and judge on Malta’s Got Talent stars in the BOSS x Russell Athletic campaign alongside partner David Vella, an airline pilot who is

into fitness and nutrition. The power couple have found their perfect fit in each other, and in the BOSS x Russell Athletic collection.



Download campaign image



In the world of basketball, Keith is a shining star who dominates the court like few others can. With eight years’ experience under his belt, he has regularly represented his country internationally with the Malta National Team. Keith is a gold and bronze medal winner, and has also received multiple MVP awards in Malta.


Download campaign images



Dancer and choreographer extraordinaire, Deedee splits her time between Malta and LA due to work busy commitments. Having previously choreographed for X Factor and Malta’s Got Talent, Deedee is currently busy working alongside singer Destiny on her road to Eurovision.


Download campaign image



Daniel captured the public’s attention through tongue-in-cheek lifestyle content on TikTok and Instagram. Professionally, he is a healthcare worker and four-time Malta National IFBB Winner, who lives life according to three basic principles: dedication, determination, and discipline.

TikTok @DanielUmanah


Download campaign image



Ebuni is on a mission to help women look and feel amazing. A firm believer in the importance of balance, Ebuni carries out online coaching to help achieve strength of body and mind through healthy habits, in the way of both nutrition and exercise.


Download campaign image



A born-athlete, Jeremy is a BSC Sport & Health Student who is a professional weightlifter who embodies the ethos that success is achieved by mind over matter. Jeremy is a fitness coach.

Download campaign image




The man behind the lens, Andrew’s first foray into lifestyle videography came in 2018, with ‘A Summer of Love’ - the fashion campaign by SARTO. Its success led to a lasting relationship between VF Group and Andrew, who have since worked on various video projects together. Today, Andrew has combined his passions to focus on BULLETPROOF, a project tasked at creating a local fitness community.


For further enquiries please contact:



Matthew James Smith, Head of Marketing & PR

Phone: 99971000 | E-Mail: matthewjsmith@vfgmalta.com


Invitation: Press briefing with lead rapporteurs on new anti-SLAPP report


On Tuesday, 11 May from 11.00 CEST, lead MEPs will brief journalists and answer questions on the upcoming report that will seek to protect media and civil society organisations in the EU.

Through the report, to be prepared jointly by the Committees on Legal Affairs and Civil Liberties, MEPs intend to put pressure on the European Commission to come forward with a legislative act against abusive litigation targeting journalists and civil society, the so-called SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation).

The first joint committee discussion on the new anti-SLAPP report will be held on 11 May. After the debate, the two rapporteurs Tiemo Wölken (S&D, DE) and Roberta Metsola (EPP, MT), will brief journalists and answer questions on Parliament’s initiative and next steps of the procedure.

The briefing will be held from 11.00 CEST, on the record via Webex and for media representativesonly. 

Journalists can sign up for the briefing before Monday, 10 May at 16.00 by emailing anna.zammit@europarl.europa.eu. All registered participants will receive a connection link on Monday evening.


Parliament has consistently called on the Commission to propose and apply several policies to safeguard media pluralism and journalists over the years. Since 2018, MEPs have been asking for a specific legislative proposal against SLAPP to protect independent European media and civil society from vexatious lawsuits intended to silence or intimidate them.

On 25 November 2020, the EP adopted a resolution in which, MEPs condemn the use of SLAPP to silence or intimidate investigative journalists and outlets and create a climate of fear around their reporting of certain topics. In the report, SLAPPs are described as a continued practice used to scare journalists into halting investigations into corruption and other matters of public interest.

The Commission is expected to present a media freedom act and an initiative against abusive lawsuits later this year or in 2022.

Europe Day: discover the European Union on 9 May 2021


EU institutions are holding a series of events in the run-up to Europe Day on 9 May so that people across the EU and beyond can find out more about the EU and what it does. 


Start the week by chatting with Katarina Barley and Othmar Karas, Parliament's Vice-Presidents responsible for communication, on Facebook and LinkedIn. You will be able to discover all about the Parliament and the Conference on the Future of Europe - an initiative to allow people to have their say on the future of the EU - throughout the week in interviews with executive board members, committee chairs and MEPs.


Check out the Europe Day portal to find out more about the Parliament, the European Commission and the other EU institutions, as well as all about the activities being organised across the EU and the world. Hover over a country on the portal’s interactive map to find out what is going on near you. Events include the annual Europe Day concert, which this year will be streamed live online from London This Sunday from 1pm CET.


Pay a virtual visit to the European Parliament, the Commission and the other EU institutions. The immersive space allows visitors to play online games, watch videos and test their knowledge of the EU in general, as well as on themes related to a green and digital Europe. With one click, users can take part in online debates on EU topics and explore online events.


Take a look at the multilingual Conference on the Future of Europe platform, where you can share your ideas on shaping the EU’s future.

MEPs approve deal to invest €5.4 billion in climate and environmental projects


  • LIFE is most ambitious EU climate and environmental programme ever
  • Projects with highest potential for being successfully replicated to be prioritised
  • Improving biodiversity a key objective; funding to be tracked
  • Programme helps achieve a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy


The 2021-2027 programme for Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) will become the EU’s most ambitious climate and environmental programme.

On Thursday the European Parliament officially approved the deal with member states on LIFE, the only programme at EU-level solely dedicated to the environment and climate. It will enter into force retroactively from 1 January 2021.


The EU programme will contribute to making the necessary shift towards a clean, circular, energy-efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, to protect and improve the quality of the environment, and to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.


The total budget allocated for LIFE in the compromise on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework is EUR 5.4 billion (current prices), of which EUR 3.5 billion will go to environmental activities and EUR 1.9 billion to climate action.


When making decisions on what to fund, the Commission should prioritise projects that among other issues, have a clear cross border European interest, the highest potential for replicability and for being taken up by the public or private sector, or for mobilising the largest investments. LIFE will also promote the use of green public procurement.


Boosting climate and biodiversity action

The programme will contribute to making climate actions a key aspect of all EU policies and to achieving the overall target of spending at least 30 % of the EU’s budget on climate objectives. LIFE will also support many biodiversity projects and contribute to spending 7.5% of the annual EU budget on biodiversity objectives from 2024 and 10% in 2026 and 2027.


The Commission will regularly monitor and report on mainstreaming of climate and biodiversity objectives, including tracking expenditure.



The rapporteur Nils Torvalds (Renew Europe, FI) said: “When we look at what has been achieved by LIFE so far, it is clear that a bigger budget can help us achieve even more in the future. Although I would have preferred an even larger budget for LIFE, I am very pleased that we have reached a new level of commitment towards nature and climate, so the programme can continue to test ideas and showcase future green solutions. LIFE can now also mobilise additional funding for actions on nature, climate and energy much better.”

You can watch a video of the plenary debate here.



The LIFE programme was launched in 1992 and is the only EU programme dedicated specifically to environmental and climate action. It therefore plays a crucial role in supporting the implementation of EU legislation and policies in those areas by co-financing projects with European added value.

EU COVID-19 certificate must facilitate free movement without discrimination


  • Universal, accessible, timely and free-of-charge testing needed across the EU
  • EU COVID-19 certificates are not travel documents
  • Member states should not impose quarantines/tests on certificate holders


On Thursday, Parliament adopted its negotiating position on the proposal for a certificate to reaffirm the right to free movement in Europe during the pandemic.

MEPs agreed that the new “EU COVID-19 certificate” - instead of Digital Green Certificate, as proposed by the Commission - should be in place for 12 months and not longer.

The document, which may be in digital or paper format, will attest that a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus or, alternatively, that they have a recent negative test result or have recovered from the infection. However, EU COVID-19 certificates will neither serve as travel document nor become a precondition to exercise the right to free movement, say MEPs.

The legislative proposal covering EU nationals was approved with 540 votes to 119 and 31 abstentions, while the one on third-country nationals passed with 540 votes to 80 and 70 abstentions. The vote took place on Wednesday, with results announced on Thursday morning. Both Parliament and Council are now ready to begin negotiations. The aim is to reach an agreement ahead of the summer tourist season.

No additional travel restrictions and free COVID-19 tests
Holders of an EU COVID-19 certificate should not be subject to additional travel restrictions, such as quarantine, self-isolation or testing, according to the Parliament. MEPs also stress that, in order to avoid discrimination against those not vaccinated and for economic reasons, EU countries should “ensure universal, accessible, timely and free of charge testing”.

Compatible with national initiatives 
Parliament wants to ensure that the EU certificate works alongside any initiative set up by the member states, which should also respect the same common legal framework.

Member states must accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for persons inoculated with a vaccine authorised for use in the EU by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) (currently Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen), MEPs say. It will be up to the member states to decide whether they also accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for vaccines listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use.

Data protection safeguards
The certificates will be verified to prevent fraud and forgery, as will the authenticity of the electronic seals included in the document. Personal data obtained from the certificates cannot be stored in destination member states and there will be no central database established at EU level. The list of entities that will process and receive data will be public so that citizens can exercise their data protection rights under the General Data Protection Regulation.

Affordable vaccines allocated globally
Finally, MEPs underline that COVID-19 vaccines need to be produced at scale, priced affordably and allocated globally (AM 21). They also voice concern about the serious problems caused by companies not complying with production and delivery schedules. (AM 22)

Following the vote in plenary, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee and rapporteur, said: “We need to put in place the EU COVID-19 Certificate to re-establish people’s confidence in Schengen while we continue to fight against the pandemic. Member states must coordinate their response in a safe manner and ensure the free movement of citizens within the EU. Vaccines and tests must be accessible and free for all citizens. Member states should not introduce further restrictions once the certificate is in force.”

MEPs lay out plans for a fairer tax system fit for the digital age


  • International tax rules set in early 20th century are not fit for the digital economy
  • A minimum corporate tax rate urgently needed at international level
  • Taxes should be paid where value is really created
  • If progress at international level stalls, the EU should go it alone


Outdated international tax rules need to be overhauled, including a minimum effective corporate tax rate; the EU should go it alone if global negotiations fail.

Adopting their resolution a few months ahead of decisions expected from the OECD, MEPs are seeking to keep the momentum going at European level while pushing for changes on their primary concerns.

Global minimum tax rate, new taxing rights and EU at the forefront

To reduce tax avoidance and make taxes fairer, MEPs make a number of suggestions to amend outdated rules established well before the digital economy existed.

They call for a minimum effective tax rate to be set at a fair and sufficient level to discourage profit shifting and prevent damaging tax competition. In this regard, the resolution also welcomes the US administration’s recent proposal of a 21 % global corporate tax rate.

Taxing rights should reflect that, as a result of digitalisation, the interaction between businesses and consumers significantly contributes to value creation in highly digitalised business models. This would allow more taxes to be paid where value is being created, as has always been the concept behind taxation, rather than where the rates are lowest.

Finally, MEPs insist that the EU should develop its own fall-back position, which would kick in if global negotiations do not yield results by the end of the year. By mid-2021, there should be a proposal on a digital services tax and a Commission road map with different scenarios, with or without agreement at OECD level.

The resolution was adopted 549 votes in favour, 70 against and 75 abstentions.

During the debate on Wednesday, Andreas Schwab (EPP, DE), one of the co-rapporteurs said, “We have had a big problem in the last few years with digital services because they have been taxed more lightly than traditional ones. This problem grew further during the COVID-19 pandemic. Equal treatment in taxation is not only fair but it is also necessary for fair competition. This resolution provides clear and simple guidelines for how to break away from taxing digital and traditional businesses differently.”

Martin Hlaváček (Renew, CZ), the second co-rapporteur said, “Large digital players cannot have an unfair advantage over SMEs. We have a moral responsibility to ensure that digital multinationals will contribute their fair share, just like all other companies and citizens. Although this problem is best resolved at international level, this must be the last try - either there is agreement by the summer at the OECD or else the EU must adopt its own strategy. We cannot sit back forever and rely on the international level.”

Talks are currently ongoing at OECD level to rethink international tax rules comprehensively so that they better reflect the significant changes that economies have undergone due to globalisation and digitalisation. The aim is to have agreement at this level by the third quarter of 2021.

Parliament has focussed on taxation challenges since 2015 when its first temporary committee on the matter was established. This committee continued until 2019 when a permanent subcommittee was set up. The subcommittee on tax matters began its work in June 2020.

Rule of law in Malta: Parliament calls for justice and reforms

  • Bring to justice all those implicated in cases brought to light by Daphne Caruana Galizia 
  • Serious threats against EU values, though some progress being made 
  • Step up fight against fraud and corruption 


The latest revelations about the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia are of great concern, in particular the possible involvement of ministers and political appointees.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday with 635 votes for, 46 against and 12 abstentions, the European Parliament takes stock of developments in the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia and other related investigations, following the testimony of convicted criminal Vincent Muscat. Expressing deep concern about the possible involvement of ministers and political appointees in the murder case, MEPs urge the government to bring to justice all those implicated in all cases brought to light by the journalist.


MEPs acknowledge the progress made in the murder investigation and other, related cases of corruption and money laundering, “albeit greatly delayed”, and call for the search to go beyond the previous prime minister’s chief of staff, including on possible attempts by public officials to conceal evidence and obstruct investigations and judicial proceedings. All allegations of corruption and fraud should be investigated and prosecuted “with the appropriate rigour and at the appropriate level”, they underline.


There are serious and persistent threats to EU values in the country, including media freedom, judicial and police independence, and the freedom of assembly, though MEPs note that the Government of Malta has made some progress in relation to the rule of law and judicial independence. The launch of the structural reform project is welcome, they say, given the ‘deep corruption patterns’ identified by the Commission in its 2020 Rule of Law Report. MEPs acknowledge the steps taken by the Maltese authorities to protect independent journalism, stressing that further improvements are needed, and calling on the Maltese authorities to implement the EU whistle-blower directive.


Parliament is deeply concerned about the harmful impact of citizenship and residence schemes on the integrity of EU citizenship, and reiterates its call on the Maltese government to assure transparency and terminate its schemes. It is also asking the Commission to propose anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) legislation to protect independent European media from vexatious lawsuits intended to silence or intimidate them - a step that MEPs have been calling for since 2018.



Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered on 16 October 2017. She reported on government corruption, allegations of money laundering, and organised crime. Parliament launched the Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism in October 2020, on the third anniversary of her death, for “outstanding journalism reflecting EU values”. Read more here.

MEPs adopt landmark research programme Horizon Europe


  • Overall budget of €95.5 billion, including €5.4 billion from the EU’s Next GenerationEU recovery plan
  • Strong focus on health, digitalisation, support for innovative SMEs
  • Programme provisionally applied since 1 January 2021


The 2021-2027 research and innovation programme will help the EU’s health systems prepare for future pandemics, and its industry to decarbonise, digitalise and innovate.

The research programme secures short- and long-term financing for research and innovation relating to global challenges including the fight against climate change, digitalisation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Horizon Europe incorporates the EU’s highest ever budget allocation for digital-related research and digitalisation. It will also provide support for innovative SMEs, European research infrastructure, and an additional €1 billion secured by the Parliament for basic research, which will be channelled through the European Research Council.

The programme was already provisionally put in place by the European Commission from 1 January 2021. MEPs gave their final approval to the agreement with Council on the Programmeon Tuesday with 677 votes to 5 and 17 abstentions (Horizon Europe regulation) and 661 votes to 5 and 33 abstentions (Horizon Europe specific programme).

"Horizon Europe will prepare the EU for the future by supporting itsthe health systems, its industry to decarbonise and, its businesses to innovate. I and it will also support European researchers! An ambitious investment in research and innovation will deliver on future challenges”, said Dan Nica(S&D, RO), rapporteur for the Horizon Europe regulation.

“We achieved an ambitious and balanced budget that strongly supports fundamental research as well as thematic research, including for the first time a specific budget for Europe’s cultural and creative industries. Horizon Europe will be a crucial part of Europe’s recovery”, said Christian Ehler (EPP, DE), rapporteur for the Horizon Europe specific programme. “With this programme, the EU has also committed legally to defend academic freedom across the continent”, he said.

Horizon Europe will have an overall budget of €95.5 billion, including €5.4 billion from the EU’s Next GenerationEU recovery plan, and an additional investment of €4 billion from the EU’s multiannual financial framework (MFF).

Horizon Europe comprises three pillars:

  • The Excellent Science pillar will support frontier research projects defined and driven by researchers themselves through the European Research Council (ERC). It will fund fellowships and exchanges for researchers through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, and will invest in research infrastructure.
  • The Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness pillar will directly support research relating to societal challenges, technological and industrial capacities, and will determine the focus of EU-wide research missions. It also includes public-to-public and public-to-private European Partnerships as well as activities pursued by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), which supports EU and national policymakers with independent scientific evidence and technical support.
  • The Innovative Europe pillar aims to make Europe a frontrunner in market-creating innovation through the European Innovation Council. It also aims, by further strengthening the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), to foster the integration of business, research, higher education and entrepreneurship.




Laura Besançon is a Maltese-French multidisciplinary artist. In 2017-2019, she completed an MA Photography degree at the Royal College of Art, developing a multifaceted practice coloured by her foundational education in Communications and Psychology at the University of Malta. Besançon describes her practice as centring on “notions of play, connectivity and place”; themes she explores through multi-disciplinary mediums with a strong focus on communication. Her work also explores appropriation, reconfiguration, shifting perspectives and what she labels “playful action”. Besançon’s 2018 work, Alone, Together, invited residents of a UK residential tower block to participate in a form of documented communal performance. Besançon was a finalist for the 2019 MTV RE:DEFINE Award, run by the Goss-Michael Foundation, and recently was recognised by the 2020 Aesthetica Art Prize. Besançon speaks to Ann Dingli about the dualities she explores in her work, as well as the fluctuating definition of togetherness.

Ann Dingli (AD): Your background is in Communications and Psychology. As a starting point, can you talk about how this foundation feeds into your art practice?

Laura Besancon (LB): Before my pursuing my MA at the Royal College of Art, I had never followed any kind of formal art education, but always wanted to ‘do something more’. I had previously pursued Communications and Psychology at Undergraduate level, as they were both broad subjects centring around the complexities of human life and our daily reality – human nature, social dynamics, interconnectedness, perception and reality. I realised I wanted to explore and research these complexities from an artistic perspective and to use all communication tools for an artistic purpose, rather than for the media world, especially in such an image saturated world. 


I often utilise communication tools in my artistic practice, combining both older, slower mediums and new technologies and communication tools as part of the process, or the final work. A lot of the work is more conceptual than retinal, hence why I feel that having a varied background, rather than a formal art education prior to my MA, has been beneficial. I am interested in ideas, concepts, more than the final visual product, although I strongly place importance on both. In my opinion, ideas are more important in today’s world.


AD: I'd like to look at your work, Alone, Together, and its commentary on the nature of living alongside, yet separate, from others. What do you believe converts places into communities? Can communities be silent or apart and yet still possess togetherness?


LB: You have a machine. It will only work if all the parts do the job they are best at, on their own, together. This interconnectedness with a shared purpose. A community is a group that shares a commonality. In Alone, Together the artwork was shared. My idea only came through because of the residents’ participation. If I did not send the letters it would not have happened. Individually but collectively, it happened – a co-created, shared moment, together on a mental and emotional level. It might also have an after effect in a more physical dimension – I wonder whether the residents will initiate contact the day after, when they meet spontaneously, say in the lift or around the block. 


During the live work, I felt that each of us participants, including myself, acknowledged each other’s aloneness and togetherness, through the action performed together in our separate spaces.


So yes, I think a community can still possess togetherness by being apart – through openness, respect, acknowledgement and care about the individuals around us and the bigger picture or a common goal. At the end of the day, we are all alone, and that is what we all have in common.


AD: You've spoken about the duality of proximity versus isolation. Many artists over time have touched on visual themes of community that denote sentiments typically unassociated with togetherness. From George Grosz to Martin Parr, artists have shown that the idea of saturation doesn't always emulate positive feelings – it can be about despondency, alienation, hopelessness, boredom, degeneration. What is your central message on togetherness?


LB: As much as we are craving physical proximity with people, how many times have we sat close to someone and found absolutely nothing to say? In times like this, we can be even more together, by thinking about what benefits us as a collective whole, living in the present and into the future. Being apart is the best we can do for the collective whole. There has not been a stronger moment of togetherness, or its effect, in a way.


Individual action affects the collective outcome. Play, openness, vulnerability and trust with people you do not know plays an important role in togetherness.


AD: Your work Still, Life also comments on physical grouping. Can you talk about the connection between the two works?


LB: Still, Life was a project that developed alongside Alone, Together. Through further research on play, I became quite interested in the playgrounds of Aldo van Eyck and his concept of the city as playground. His minimalistic, aesthetic play equipment were intended to stimulate the creativity of the child. I felt there was a strong link with the way I felt about the process of Alone, Together, with the buildings being a sort of internal playground and how – through participation, imagination and play – architecture is brought to life. 


I photographed a few of the remaining playground structures, found in various locations around Amsterdam. During my research on van Eyck, I was intrigued by archival photographs of the playgrounds, depicting his sand pits full of people, both young and old – a very different scene from the reality of today where children play more on screens and there are less interactions in these spaces. This decrease in physical, outdoor play is depicted in the photographs I took, which were more of a still life, void of any human or social interaction. In Alone, Together I wanted to bring a request to play into the buildings, into the city – a kind of reversal, maybe it could bounce back to the streets. 


AD: You seem to be interested in the tension between stillness and movement, silence and noise, solid and non-solid. Why are these contrasts important to you?


LB: I realise that all these works, which start from an intuitive need to create them, are works that speak of contrasts and apparent dualities. It is probably about the complexity of life and the fact that change is the only constant. I live in the present and react to the present. Life is full of contrasts and the more I focus and navigate them, becoming aware of the ever-changing nature of things, the more I find that I can deal with, progress, and remain future positive.


Again, life is full of contrasts. On one hand we want a greener more sustainable future, but we are overbuilding and making vertical gardens. There is so much irony around. You can either become depressed about it or play with it.


Oftentimes I am looking for the overlap, looking closely at the in-between, exploring thresholds, and the space of interconnections. It is a space of compromise or understanding of both sides, which I feel is important, especially in a world that frequently resorts to black or white thinking.


AD: Your work is very structural – whether physically or by way of structured rhythms. What are your influences in this respect? You've mentioned architecture and infrastructure, and seemingly music is also important to you. Can you elaborate on how these disciplines impact your thinking?


LB: My influence is music, without a doubt. My MA dissertation was entitled Seeing Music, centring mainly around the formal qualities that architecture and music share. Many artists and architects saw similarities or were deeply influenced by music in their work. I find myself looking for a certain musicality in visual art. My musical influence is definitely evident in Alone, Together – a music track is used as a tool, as part of the process, with the beat, rhythms converted into action and light in the windows – a visual, collaborative piece with the result being a kind of visual orchestra. In other works, I also see and create with a musical, rhythmical attitude. 


I play with, or make reference to architecture, industrial materials and tools related to infrastructure because they are the materials of today. I want to make beautiful the ugly, at least for a moment that might, in turn, create a different way of perceiving the everyday. For example, since presenting Still, Life at the RCA, I received a couple of messages from people who saw the work, telling me that they think of the work when they bump into a road sign frame, a frame that is usually a nuisance, diverting us away from the chaos of roadworks.


AD: Can you talk about the work you'll be exhibiting at VC? Does it look to pull together a central theme, or will you be developing a completely new trajectory? Do you plan to make a comment on collectivity in the time of the pandemic?


LB: The exhibition is titled Playful Futures. I will be showing works I have never shown here before, from 2018 up until now. I will be exhibiting the documentation of my participatory work Alone, Together (2018-), Still, Life (2019) and other works I made during my time at the Royal College of Art. I will also be showing other recent works made in 2020 and 2021, which have resulted out of a progression of research and thought following the Alone, Together (2018) project. I would describe the works on show as playful yet serious.


I have also invited other artists I have met during my time at the RCA to exhibit alongside of me, as I feel that there is a certain dialogue happening between us. It is also a great moment to keep up with the spirit of collaboration, especially under the current circumstances, and to bring some works from the UK despite Brexit. Regarding whether I will be making a comment on collectivity in the time of the pandemic – I will leave it to the viewer to figure out! 

Frontex Scrutiny Group: addressing legal aspects of investigation with academics and advocacy groups


The EP Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG) will meet on Friday for an exchange of views with invited academics and experts from NGOs active in Greece and Hungary

The FSWG will hold an exchange of views with leading European law experts as well as representatives of civil society organisation working on the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers in Greece and Hungary:


  • Professor Takis Tridimas - Professor of European Law, King’s College
  • Mr Minos Mouzourakis - Legal Officer at Refugee Support Aegean
  • Professor Jorrit Rijpma - Professor of European Law, Europa Institute of Leiden Law School.
  • Mr Andras Lederer - Senior advocacy officer, Hungarian Helsinki Committee


When: Friday, 23 April, from 9.00 to 11.00


Where: European Parliament in Brussels, Spinelli building, room 5G2, and via remote connection.

You can follow the discussion live.



The fourteen-member working group has been set up to assess the functioning of the European border agency, following media reports that it was allegedly involved in pushbacks of asylum-seekers in Aegean waters.


Chaired by Roberta Metsola (EPP, MT), the FSWG will carry out a fact-finding investigation in its first four months, gathering all relevant information and evidence regarding alleged violations of fundamental rights involving Frontex. Tineke Strik (Greens/EFA,NL) will draft the report with the group’s recommendations.




Thursday 22nd April 2021 - Maltco Lotteries, operator of the largest retail network locally, connecting more than 200 Lotto booths and thousands of customers across Malta and Gozo effectively maintains the network while also remaining at the cutting edge of technological innovation with the help of the right technology partner. GO was the natural choice to help Maltco design, build and maintain a fully tailored online infrastructure, from the ground up.


“Our players expect the highest quality of service. We therefore needed a provider that could help us deliver this in a reliable and timely way. Our partnership with GO started 16 years ago. Throughout this time, they have consistently shown they understand our operations – and what we need as a business as we continue to evolve,” explains Vasileios Kasiotakis CEO of Maltco Lotteries. “The longer we work together, the more we understand how to overcome the challenges we face, as a team whilst our longstanding business relationship puts us in a position to offer advantageous offers for the benefit of agents and employees”.


‘As Malta’s largest investor in Malta’s digital infrastructure, we are very proud to be supporting Maltco on its incredible journey. Our investment has given us the required scale and expertise to help businesses such as Maltco, grow and deliver additional value to the Maltese community. This longstanding partnership has been mutually beneficial, we have learnt from each other and continue to grow together,’ said Nikhil Patil, CEO, GO plc. ‘We are honoured and feel privileged to be trusted to power such a complex operation, on which so many lives and livelihoods depend,’ he continued. 


Maltco Lotteries is continuously working with GO Business to deploy connectivity between POS terminals at our retail agent sites, GO is able to manage all connectivity between the company’s head office as well as with its parent company’s offices in Greece and other international 3rd party providers. Through the provided managed services GO supplies and supports network and security devices and services. 


To celebrate the 16th year of partnership, Maltco collaborated with GO to offer special promotions to Maltco employees and agents. The promotions offer a variety of different advantageous offers to choose from. 


For more information you may email info@maltco.net, visit the company’s website, or call 23883000. You can also read the full case study at www.go.com.mt/business.

Commonwealth benchmarks to help countries fight corruption


A landmark set of measures to support international efforts in tackling corruption has been launched by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks are designed to help governments and public sector organisations assess laws, procedures and actions against international good practice and make improvements if needed.

United Nations figures indicate that corruption costs the global economy $3.6 trillion each year. Global proceeds from criminal activities are estimated at between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion per year.

The amount of money lost globally through corruption is equal to the total amount needed to successfully implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In development since 2018, the new benchmarks offer a comprehensive roadmap to reduce corruption across 25 areas of public and commercial life.

Among the wide range of topics covered are corruption offences, investigation and prosecution, the court system, parliament, political elections and funding, public officials, procurement, management controls, and transparency to the public.

The benchmarks also include mechanisms for engaging and mobilising the public and private sectors in educating, reporting and providing independent support and oversight. 

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, said: “Throughout the world, including in member countries of the Commonwealth, corruption continues to undermine social and economic development and have immensely damaging consequences, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable of people and communities. 

“Our Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks are a robust set of recommendations and good practices brought together as an interlocking identification, prevention and reporting system designed significantly to reduce the risk of corruption in the public and private sectors.

“The Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks package is a landmark initiative, unrivalled in scope and ambition, which I firmly believe provides a basis for transformational action in the Commonwealth and more widely towards ending the destructive scourge of corruption in all its forms.”

Designed to be achievable, practical and auditable, this set of measures provides a holistic system that aims to reduce and deal with the risk of corruption.

The benchmarks promote honesty, impartiality, accountability, and transparency and provide for specific anti-corruption measures. 

In cases where there may be no recognised international good practice, the benchmarks propose  good practice measures. 

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform has worked in partnership with the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to develop the benchmarks.

There has also been wide consultation with the African Union, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Commonwealth law ministries, anti-corruption agencies and Commonwealth partner organisations.

Neill Stansbury, Director of GIACC, and one of the authors of the benchmarks said: “Corruption causes enormous damage in developed and developing countries, and primarily impacts on the poor.

“While preventive action must be taken by both the public and private sectors, it is incumbent on governments and the public sector to provide the legal, regulatory and enforcement environment which ​enables and ensures a corruption-free society.

“The benchmarks are designed to assist governments and the public sector achieve this​objective.”   

Christopher Alder, Global Director of Regulation at RICS, said: “These benchmarks represent a step-change in the co-ordination and integration of anti-corruption mechanisms - mechanisms which connect public, commercial, professional and legal enforcement expertise. 

“Taken together the mechanisms provide a framework for these ‘communities’ to co-ordinate their activities to support proactive and, if necessary, punitive action. 

“Creating a framework through which these communities, their interests and responsibilities integrate leverages their collective power to transform the way that international and Commonwealth countries fight corruption.

“Ultimately, this collective power can protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our societies whilst building a future free of corruption.”


View and download the Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks

View and download FAQs about the benchmarks


The European Parliament’s Citizen’s Prize 2020 awarded today to the Lockdown Festival Malta 

The national winners of the European Parliament’s Citizen’s Prize 2020, the Lockdown Festival Malta today were awarded the prize medal for outstanding achievements. 


The award ceremony was led by the Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta Mario Sammut. He presented the medal to Zoe Camilleri and Keith Bonnici in representation of all the festival organisers, who include Niels Plotard and Vegard Flatoey. 

“The Lockdown Festival Malta exemplifies perfectly the spirit of community within and across borders in the EU which the Citizen’s Prize aims to recognise,” said Dr Sammut. 


He commended the initiative of the organisers of the Lockdown Festival Malta who brought together 17 acts both locally and internationally to perform live from their own indoors.


 “We were lightning fast on this - we didn’t even stop to think. In the first days of lockdown, we were feeling the pressure of suddenly finding ourselves without a job, and in all that surreal chaos, we just decided we needed to do something!” Zoe Camilleri said. 


“It was organic, the way it came together,” said Keit Bonnici. “We’re all professional artists, and we each worked to our strengths. Doing this online festival gave us this feeling of community on a global scale, and it gave us a sense of purpose - like Abel Hernandez who turned his bedroom in  Spain into a set for a contemporary dance piece performed from his home to ours,” Keit added. 


“The audience made the festival,” the Lockdown Festival organisers underlined. “Without the audience there would have been no art and no community”. 


“The recognition of this Prize means a lot to us because it recognizes the value of art and culture to our society,” Zoe Camilleri said, adding “artists in Spain, Germany, the US, and here in Malta, were really happy to get on board!”


The Lockdown Festival Malta was the first initiative in Malta that aimed to support freelance artists as the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The festival organisers reached over 60,000 viewers along with thousands of engagements and hundreds of shares in only five days. Via digital technology, connections were made with artists in Malta and other countries, with people watching, sharing, and donating to the performers.


The festival was streamed through its Facebook page between the 20th and the 22nd of March 2020.


2020 was the first year the Prize was open to nominations by the public:

For the first time in 2020, the ECP was open to nominations by the public. The prize has been awarded by the European Parliament in the different Member States since 2008 and consists of a symbolic plaque or medal of honour. 


Past winners of the Prize in Malta include the ALS Foundation, l-Għaqda Każini tal-Banda, the Richmond Foundation, Dar il-Kaptan, Hospice Malta, Puttinu Cares Children's Cancer Support Group, Caritas Malta, and Chris Delicata, President and Regional Chair of the International Diabetes Federation Europe Region (IDF Europe).


The call for nominations for the 2021 Citizen’s Prize is currently open.

The prize goes to people or organisations that encourage:

  • Mutual understanding and closer integration between people in the EU
  • Cross-border cooperation that builds a stronger European spirit
  • EU values and fundamental rights


How to apply: 

People, groups, associations or organisations can apply for the European Citizen’s Prize or can nominate a project. MEPs can also submit a nomination.


The rules of the Citizen’s Prize are online. To apply or nominate someone, use this form. For more information, write to CitizensPrize@ep.europa.eu .


The deadline for applications is 29 April 2021 before midnight.

MEPs reach deal with Council on obligation for EU to be climate neutral by 2050


  • Independent EU scientific body to be set up to monitor progress
  • Greenhouse gas budget must guide 2040 target
  • Deal reached in time for US President Biden’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate


The new EU Climate Law increases the EU’s 2030 emissions reductions target from 40% to at least 55% while boosting the contribution from removals that can bring the target to 57%.

MEPs reached an informal agreement with member states on the EU Climate Law on Tuesday evening, a few days before US President Biden hosts a Leaders’ Summit on Climate.


The new law transforms political promises that the EU will become climate neutral by 2050 into a binding obligation, and gives European citizens and businesses the legal certainty and predictability they need to plan for the transition to climate neutrality. After 2050, the EU shall aim to achieve negative emissions.


2030 and 2040 targets

The new EU Climate Law increases the EU’s 2030 emissions reductions target from 40 % to at least 55 % compared to 1990 levels.


While avoiding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be the priority, the law recognises that already emitted GHG will need to be removed to compensate for GHG emitted from sectors where decarbonisation is most challenging. To ensure sufficient reductions are made by 2030, the contribution of removals towards the 2030 climate target shall be limited to 225 Mt CO2 equivalents. The Commission confirmed in a written statement that it will propose that the LULUCF Regulation be revised. It regulates GHG emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry, to raise EU carbon sinks to levels above 300 million tons CO2eq by 2030, which would de facto correspond to a 2030 reductions target of 57 %.


The Commission shall make a proposal for a 2040 target at the latest six months after the first global stocktake of the Paris Agreement. In line with Parliament’s proposal, the Commission must take into account the EU’s projected indicative GHG budget, defined as the total GHG emissions expected to be emitted without risking the EU’s commitment under the Paris Agreement, for the period 2030-2050.


European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change 

Given the importance of independent scientific advice, an independent scientific body will be set up to assess whether policy is consistent and to monitor progress, as suggested by Parliament. The Advisory Board will consist of 15 scientific experts appointed for four years.


The Commission will also facilitate sector-specific climate dialogues and partnerships by bringing together key stakeholders to encourage sectors to draw up roadmaps towards climate neutrality.



After the agreement, Parliament rapporteur Jytte Guteland (S&D, Sweden) said: “After a long night of negotiations, I am proud that we now finally have a climate law. We agreed on net emissions reductions of 57 % by 2030. While I would of course have preferred to go even further, this is a good deal that is based on science and which will make a big difference for the climate. The EU must now reduce emissions more in the next decade than we have in the previous three decades put together, and we have new and more ambitious ground to stand on that can encourage more countries to step up.”


Next steps

The deal will now be put to the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee and plenary for approval as well as to the Council. The Regulation will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal.



Parliament has played an important role in pushing for more ambitious EU climate legislation and declared a climate emergency on 28 November 2019.


Following the European Council decision in December 2019 to endorse the 2050 climate-neutrality objective, the Commission in March 2020 proposed the EU climate law that would make the objective a legal requirement.

MEPs call for better protection of soil to reach green targets


Parliament calls on the Commission to design an EU-wide common legal framework for the protection of soil, with full respect of the subsidiarity principle. 

With 73 votes in favour, 7 against and no abstentions, members of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee adopted Friday a resolution in which they call on the Commission to design an EU-wide common legal framework for the protection and sustainable use of soil, addressing different soil threats and promoting restoration measures.

Contrary to water and air, currently there is no coherent and integrated EU legal framework for protecting Europe’s soil, MEPs say, with measures on soil protection fragmented among many policy instruments that lack coordination and which are often non-binding. Moreover, special attention to soil should be paid in the implementation of EU-related policies and, in particular, those related to agriculture, forestry, water and waste management, industrial emissions and international trade agreements.

Soil protection as integral part of reaching green goals

MEPs stress that healthy soils are essential to achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal, such as climate neutrality, biodiversity restoration, zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment, healthy and sustainable food systems and a resilient environment.

Additionally, the resolution highlights that soil is a multifunctional and living ecosystem of crucial importance, which hosts 25% of the world’s biodiversity, provides key ecosystem services such as food, raw materials, carbon capture and storage, water purification, nutrient regulation and pest control. It also serves as a platform for human activity and helps prevent floods and droughts.

Prevention of soil sealing, reduction of synthetic fertilizers

MEPs urge the Commission to include measures on prevention and/or minimisation of soil sealing, with the aim to reach the “no land degradation” objective by 2030 and “no net land take” by 2050 at the latest. The resolution also calls on the Commission and member states to contribute effectively towards the reduction of overuse of synthetic fertilizers, especially nitrogen.


Scaling up soil-specific research, innovation and funding

MEPs welcome the launch of the Horizon Europe mission for “Soil Health and Food”, while insisting that the multifunctional role of soil should be adequately addressed in research and that existing funding programmes should be adjusted in order to reflect this approach.


Next steps

The resolution is expected to be adopted during the April plenary session, alongside a debate on two oral questions to the Council and the Commission, tabled by the ENVI committee.


The resolution represents Parliament’s political message ahead of the adoption by the Commission of the Zero Pollution Action Plan on water, air and soil and of the new EU Strategy on Soil. The Commission currently holds a public consultation on the new EU Strategy on Soil as a part of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030.

A previous proposal to introduce a legal framework for soil protection in the EU was unsuccessful and was withdrawn in May 2014 by the Commission following years of blockage in the Council.

Press briefing on the draft report on adequate minimum wages in the EU - Thursday April 22 at 10.00


The co-rapporteurs of the committee on Employment and Social Affairs will brief journalists ahead of the presentation of their draft report on the directive on adequate minimum wages. 

Co-rapporteurs Dennis Radtke (EPP, DE) and AgnesJongerius(S&D, NL) will give an online technical briefing to journalists and answer questions ahead of the first discussion of their draft report on the proposal for a directive on adequate minimum wages in the EU with the members of the committee on Thursday 22 April.

The briefing will be on the record and will take place on Thursday 22 April from 10.00 - 11.00. Journalists who wish to attend the briefing can register via EMPL-press@ep.europa.eu.

All participants will receive a connection link ahead of the meeting.



On October 28 2020, the European Commission published a proposal for a directive on adequate minimum wages in the European Union. The European Parliament’s committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) appointed Agnes Jongerius and Dennis Radtke as its rapporteurs. The draft report by the co-rapporteurs discussed on Thursday 22 April, will be open for amendments of other members of the EMPL committee. After adoption, the report will serve as the EP’s starting position in the negotiations with the Council on the directive.

Banning caged farming in the EU: Hearing on the European Citizens’ Initiative


On Thursday, MEPs debated a citizens’ initiative to ban the use of cages for farm animals, together with organisers of the initiative, Commissioners and representatives of other EU bodies.

The public hearing, organised jointly by Parliament’s Agriculture and Petitions committees, on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “End the Cage Age” was opened by Committee Chairs Norbert Lins (EPP, DE) and Dolors Montserrat (EPP, ES) alongside Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová.

“I welcome and support this initiative. Animal welfare can be improved in the EU”, Agriculture Committee Chair Norbert Lins said. “It is of utmost importance that (...) before planning any radical shift [to fully cage-free housing], we need to analyse the cost of such a change” and “think about providing sufficient financial support, compensation or other incentives to the farmers”, he added.


“This is the sixth ECI to succeed among 76 registered initiatives in the last eight years. It represents the third-highest number of signatures ever collected and the first valid ECI for farmed animal welfare”, Petitions Committee Chair Dolors Montserrat said. “It has been submitted at a time where intensive animal husbandry is seeing greater public scrutiny and it demands that the EU make more [policy] changes”, she added.


“The Commission attaches the highest importance to ideas submitted via the European citizens’ initiative instrument and (...) it takes all successful initiatives very seriously”, Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová said, stressing that “citizens’ initiatives can and do generate long-term effects on EU policies”.


After the introductory statements, ECI organisers Olga Kikou and Leopoldine Charbonneauxpresented the initiative’s objectives, specifically to end the use of cages for a number of species, including laying hens, rabbits, pullets, quail, ducks and geese, sows in sow stalls and farrowing crates and individual calf pens. “Instead of using cages, we call on the EU to (...) move to alternative systems, which are already in existence, such as barns, organic systems, free range or free farrowing”, said Ms Kikou. She stressed that farmers need to be provided with financial support to transition to cage-free farming and that imported products from non-EU countries must also meet EU animal welfare standards.


“Animal welfare concerns lie at the heart of the EU’s Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy”, said Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. “We are very much aware that we need to do more”, she said, pointing to the fitness check being carried out on existing EU animal welfare legislation. “We will use the results of [this] check to propose new legislation by 2023”, she said.

“The European Commission truly wants to improve animal welfare”, which is “at the very heart of the Green Deal”, Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said, and stressed that the initiative has his “full support”. He called for more EU farm policy money to be used to improve animal welfare and insisted that “our trade partners accept the same (...) or equivalent standards”.

Kerli Ats and Guillaume Cros, respectively representatives of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions, and members from both Agriculture and Petitions Committees also participated in the debate.


MEPs highlighted the importance of listening and acting on citizens’ concerns on animal welfare. However, any potential phase-out of caged farming requires proper financial support, incentives and an adequate transition period, many insisted. They called for strict and efficient measures to avoid imports of cheaper products with lower animal welfare standards from non-EU countries. Some also called for a proper impact assessment and insisted on EU legislative action.


The video recording of the debate is available here.



The European Citizens' Initiative allows one million citizens from at least a quarter of EU member states to ask the European Commission to propose legislation in areas that fall within its competence. The EU invites organisers of successful initiatives to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament, to the committee responsible for the subject matter.

MEPs call for common set of rules on AI and more support for digital innovation


In the new report on the digital future of Europe, MEPs reiterate their demands for a common EU regulatory framework for human-centric AI and request more support for SMEs.

The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee adopted its report on the functioning of the digital single market and improving the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for European consumers with 39 votes in favour (5 abstentions).

As Parliament’s response to the Commission’s strategy to shape Europe’s digital future in the years to come, MEPs call on the European Commission to address the challenges posed by the digital transition (from digital skills to connectivity) and focus on AI as technology that can enable and support the European public and private sectors to implement the upcoming changes.

Digital innovation key for SMEs

MEPs underline that digital innovation has to be strongly supported and EU lawmakers must guarantee that the accompanying common legislation endorses trustworthy, fair, accessible and human-centric technology, e.g. with an adequate degree of human control over algorithmic decision-making. European SMEs need the right amount of support to benefit from new technologies, be it through testing facilities, better access to data, easier regulatory requirements or funding, they add.

In the long-term, say MEPs, new technologies could help the transition to a circular and sustainable economy (by finding more circular business models, promoting energy efficiency of data processing and storage systems and optimising the use of resources), and have the potential to help meet the needs of urban, rural and isolated regions in the EU.

More trust and clearer rules needed

AI solutions could diminish existing barriers and reduce the fragmentation of the internal market, support European digital economy and its competitiveness, contributing also to safety, security, education, healthcare, transport and the environment, argue MEPs. At the same time, they add that a clear legal framework for AI is a prerequisite for more trust in the technology, to avoid discrimination and make sure the fundamental rights of Europeans are well protected.



Rapporteur Deirdre Clune (EPP, IE) said after the vote: "Artificial Intelligence can be positive and transformative. It could help us to face many societal challenges - from treating diseases to minimising the environmental impact on farming. For AI to be successful in Europe, it needs to be trusted. We need to create the right environment for investment and innovation. We need to give businesses and start-ups room for innovation and support investment to realise the full potential of AI for consumers in the EU. Europe’s digital future and improving the use of AI will have a transformative effect across many sectors of society in the European Union."

FIAU along with MGA & MFSA publish document entitled The Business Risk Assessment


The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) in collaboration with the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) are publishing a document entitled The Business Risk Assessment.

The document provides an overview of the key findings about Business Risk Assessments (BRAs) carried out by subject persons as per their obligations under the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations (PMLFTR) and the FIAU’s Implementing Procedures.

It is based on a high-level review of the BRAs submitted by subject persons as part of the 2020 Risk Evaluation Questionnaire submission, as well as an in-depth analysis of the BRAs provided by subject persons as part of AML/CFT compliance examinations carried out by FIAU, MGA and MFSA during the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.

The MGA urges all gaming licensees which are considered as subject persons under the PMLFTR to make good use of this document to ensure that they have an adequate BRA which satisfies all legal requirements.

The document may be viewed on this link.

Malta Treasure Trails – discovering the islands the fun way


Maltatreasuretrails.com is the new go-to site for all local treasure hunters.

Devised and written by veteran journalist Terence Mirabelli, the site features an ever-growing list of individual, town-based treasure trail booklets.

Available now are treasure trails around Mdina, Zebbug, Mosta, Senglea, Naxxar, a pictorial trail through Valletta – where the clues are old photos of the capital – and a kids’ detective hunt that can be undertaken anywhere.

All the booklets are available for download, as pdf files, from www.maltatreasuretrails.com.

“I’ll be adding some two new treasure trail books a week, so the inventory is growing rapidly,” says Mirabelli.

Treasure hunting is a good and fun way to exercise both body and mind – and to explore and discover what Malta’s many historic towns offer.

“Our trails are a great way for couples, pairs, or a household to get out and get some socially distanced fresh air while exploring and discovering the wonders of the Maltese islands,” remarks Mirabelli.

All trails are outdoors and do not require anyone to enter any building or pay any entrance fees, so they are the perfect pastime during this pandemic where restaurants, bars, and shops are closed.

Island Publications, publishers of Malta Treasure Trails ‘revolutionised’ the way tourists and residents toured the islands in 2010 with their Malta Treasure Hunts – a book that contained a series of themed hunts that took people on self-guided voyages of discovery around the Maltese islands.

Now, the Mosta-based travel industry publisher is producing individual town-orientated treasure trails.

In some, like the just-published Naxxar Treasure Trail, trailers join a fictitious character as she lives her life in this hilltop town. “This is a treasure trail with a difference”, says Mirabelli.

“Producing Malta Treasure Trails is so much fun and educational”, not only do I enjoy devising and writing these, but I learn so much about so many arcane things on the islands; for instance, I did not know that in 1725 a small chapel in Zebbug was granted the same privileges as the basilica of St John Lateran in Rome”.

Malta Treasure Trail booklets are available for download from www.maltatreasuretrails.com.


For more information, contact:

Terence Mirabelli

Island Publications Ltd

36/38 Hope Street

Mosta MST 1309


Tel: 21431864, 99995201

Email: tmirabelli@me.com

Banning caged farming in the EU: Hearing on the European Citizens’ Initiative


MEPs will debate a citizens’ initiative to ban the use of cages for farm animals , together with experts, Commissioners and representatives of other EU bodies on Thursday.

The public hearing, organised jointly by Parliament’s Agriculture and Petitions Committees, on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “End the Cage Age will be opened by Committee Chairs Norbert Lins (EPP, DE) and Dolors Montserrat (EPP, ES) alongside Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová.


ECI organisers Olga Kikou and Leopoldine Charbonneaux will present the initiative’s objectives, after which, a scientist and a farmer will share their views. They will be followed by statements from Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, and by Kerli Ats and Guillaume Cros, respectively representatives of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions.


A debate between MEPs, the ECI organisers and the Commission will follow, before remarks from Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski and final statements by the ECI organisers.


WHEN: Thursday, 15 April, at around 09.00 CET

WHERE: European Parliament, Paul-Henri Spaak building, room 03C050, Brussels (remotely)


The draft programme of the hearing is available here. The hearing will be web-streamed here(Parliament’s Multimedia Centre).



The European Citizens' Initiative allows 1 million citizens from at least a quarter of EU member states to ask the European Commission to propose legislation in areas that fall within its competence. Organisers of successful initiatives are invited by the EU to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament, in front of the committee responsible for the subject matter.


The “End the Cage Age” ECI was registered with the EU Commission on 5 September 2018. By the time of submission, the initiative gathered support of almost 1.4m signatories from across the EU, with the required threshold for signatures met in 18 member states.


The initiative calls on the Commission to “end (...) inhumane treatment” of “hundreds of millions of EU farm animals (...) kept in cages for most of their lives” and for an EU law to ban the use of: cages for laying hens, rabbits, pullets, broiler breeders, layer breeders, quail, ducks and geese; farrowing crates for sows; sow stalls, where not already prohibited; and individual calf pens, where not already prohibited.


Information to the media

In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Parliament is reducing the need for physical meetings on its premises, without compromising its role of democratic scrutiny and its ability to approve the necessary legislative measures to combat the virus and support the public, consumers, businesses and emergency services.

The meeting will be web-streamed and can be followed by the media without requiring their physical presence on EP premises.Journalists wishing to enter Parliament’s premises must wear either a surgical mask or an FFP2 respiratory mask (without valves) and respect the standard recommended guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.

Press briefing on Artificial Intelligence with lead MEPs


MEPs will brief journalists and answer questions on the latest European Parliament reports on Artificial Intelligence on 14 April at 10.00 CEST. 

Following several Parliament reports on Artificial Intelligence, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee is expected to adopt its own-initiative report on AI and shaping the digital future of Europe on 14 April.


At the same time, Parliament’s special committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age (AIDA), is studying the impact and challenges of rolling out AI, identify common EU-wide objectives, and will propose recommendations on the best ways forward.


After the adoption of its two legislative reports on AI last October, Parliament is eagerly waiting for the legislative proposal on AI, which the European Commission is set to present on 21 April.

Three lead MEPs - Axel Voss (EPP, DE), Iban Garcia del Blanco (S&D, ES) and Deirdre Clune(EPP, IE) - will hold a press briefing on Wednesday, 14 April from 10.00 to 11.00 CEST to highlight Parliament’s expectations for the upcoming legislation and present the latest report. The briefing will be held on the record via Webex.


Journalists can sign up for the briefing before Tuesday, 13 April at 16.00 by emailing yasmina.yakimova@europarl.europa.eu or inga.hoglund@europarl.europa.eu. All participants will receive a connection link on Tuesday evening.


Background information

European Parliament has adopted its guidelines on how AI should be regulated in the EU in two legislative reports and several own-initiative reports:


Recently adopted


  • Civil liability regime for artificial intelligence, Axel Voss (EPP, DE)
  • Framework of ethical aspects of artificial intelligence, robotics and related technologies, Iban Garcia del Blanco (S&D, ES)



  • Intellectual property rights for the development of artificial intelligence technologies, Stephane Sejourne (Renew, FR)
  • Guidelines for use of AI the military and civil sector, Gilles Lebreton (ID, FR).
  • Artificial intelligence in education, culture and the audiovisual sector, Sabine Verheyen (EPP, DE)



  • Shaping the digital future of Europe: removing barriers to the functioning of the digital single market and improving the use of AI for European consumers, Deirdre Clune (EPP, IE)
  • Artificial intelligence in criminal law and its use by the police and judicial authorities in criminal matters, Petar Vitanov (S&D, BG)
  • Report on artificial intelligence in a digital age (AIDA report), Axel Voss (EPP,DE)

Digital Green Certificate: MEPs to review Commission proposal


On Tuesday, MEPs will take a detailed look at the proposed Digital Green Certificate, the aim of which is to ensure the freedom of movement within the EU during the pandemic.

Commissioner for Justice, Mr Didier Reynders will present the proposal tabled on 17 March, which the Commission hopes to introduce for the start of Europe’s summer tourism season.

The Certificate would constitute proof that a person has been either vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or already recovered from the disease. The document should be free, and available in digital or paper format.


Privacy of personal and medical data

In order to assess the data protection implications of the proposed Certificate, MEPs will also discuss on Tuesday with the European Data Protection Supervisor, Mr Wojciech Wiewiórowski, who will present the joint opinion by the EDPS and the European Data Protection Board on the Commission’s proposal.


During the 24 March’s plenary debate with Commission and Council representatives, a majority MEPs supported the swift creation of the Digital Green Certificate. However, in doing so many emphasised the need for strong data protection safeguards on personal and medical data. MEPs also warned that those who have not been vaccinated must not face discrimination.


When: Tuesday, 13 April, from 10.25 to 12.00.

Where: European Parliament in Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak building (room 1A002) and per video-conference.


You can follow the meeting live.



Plenary agreed on 25 March to deal with the legislative proposals on the Digital Green Certificateunder the Parliament’s urgent procedure (Rule 163), which allows for faster parliamentary scrutiny of Commission’s proposals, while fully respecting the Parliament’s democratic prerogatives. MEPs are expected to adopt their mandate for negotiations with the Council, which may include amendments, in the next plenary session (26-29 April).

Conference on the Future of Europe: launch of the citizens’ platform on 19 April


  • Invitation to EU citizens: “The future is in your hands”
  • Work continues for the launch of the Conference’s digital platform, set for 19 April
  • Preparation for an inaugural event on 9 May (Europe Day)


At its meeting on Wednesday, the Executive Board of the Conference on the Future of Europe continued preparations to get the Conference started.

The Executive Board endorsed the multilingual digital platform that will allow citizens from across the EU to contribute to the Conference. It also agreed on its working methods and advanced preparations for the inaugural event on Europe Day (9 May).


An open and inclusive participatory democracydebate

As from 19 April, thanks to this new multilingual digital platform, citizens from across Europe will have the possibility to provide their views on any topic that they consider important for the future of the EU. This will enable citizens – for the first time at EU level – to put forward their ideas, comment on other people’s ideas, create and participate in events. The platform will be the Conference’s central hub, a place where all contributions to the Conference will be brought together and shared, including decentralised events, the European Citizens’ Panels and Conference Plenaries.


A specialised feedback mechanism will aggregate and analyse key points raised, so that they can also be taken into account during the European Citizens’ panels and Conference Plenaries. The platform will also provide information on the Conference’s structure and work, as well as resources for event organisers including a catalogue of key events through which they will be able to promote their initiatives at local, regional, national, and European levels. Citizens will easily be able to look up events in which they wish to participate thanks to an events map.


Following the meeting, the co-chairs of the Executive Board stated the following.

The European Parliament's Guy Verhofstadt (RE, BE) said: “We need to make this discussion as lively as possible, and in times of Covid that means to experiment with digital platforms as much as we can. With this platform, we offer the tools to give everyone a chance to get actively engaged in this debate, and we will make sure these ideas feed into the analysis and conclusions of the Conference. It’s their future, so it’s their Conference.”


The Portuguese Secretary of State for EU Affairs on behalf of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Ana Paula Zacarias, commented that “The Digital Platform will bring Europeans into the public space. It will allow them to express their concerns, share their dreams and expectations and to engage with their representatives. The Union needs the power of its citizens behind it to make it stronger. This is a decisive moment, and this will allow us to debate differing views frankly and without taboos.”


Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, stated: “The launch of the Digital Platform in ten days’ time will provide a unique space for our citizens to engage in conversations and debates right across Europe. It will allow people to share their ideas, concerns, hopes and dreams – and in all official EU languages. Momentum is now growing and I look forward to seeing the outcome.”


The Conference’s official hashtag #TheFutureIsYours is an invitation to EU citizens to contribute and define the EU’s future: “The future is in your hands”.


Inaugural event on Europe Day 

Additionally, the Executive Board made progress in preparing for the Conference’s inaugural event on Europe Day (9 May), health conditions permitting. It also adopted the Board’s own working methods and held a first discussion on the draft rules for the composition and work of Conference Plenary sessions.


Next steps

The Executive Board will meet again in two weeks, in order to finalise their discussion on the rules of procedure, and to address other prerequisites for the organisation of the Conference.


The European Parliament Office in Portugal is organizing a webinar for journalists on Monday, March 29th at 17.00 CET on the Digital Green Certificate.


Representatives of the three European institutions  the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council of the EU -  will speak on the subject of the “vaccination passport”, covering several aspects of the process: freedom and guarantees, free movement, tourism and health. 


The briefing will be given by: 


The event is scheduled to last one hour and will be held in English, without interpretation. It can be followed on the Webex platform and EP Lisbon Facebook and Twitter


Journalists wishing to ask questions will be able to do so on Webex platform. Please register by sending an e-mail in English to raquel.patricio@ep.europa.eu or vera.ramalhete@ep.europa.eu to obtain access.



Following the proposal for a common vaccination certificate to facilitate tourism within EU countries, the European Commission on 17 March 2021 presented a proposal for the creation of a Digital Green Certificate valid for all 27 countries. 


On Thursday, MEPs decided to use the urgency procedure for the proposal related to the Digital Green Certificate, after a debate that took place on Wednesday. 


MEPs also debated on Wednesday and voted on Thursday a resolution on establishing an EU strategy for sustainable tourism. EU criteria for safe and clean travel, a common vaccination certificate and an EU hygiene seal for businesses must be part of a new EU strategy on tourism, MEPs say. 


More information: 

Parliament fast-tracks procedure to adopt Digital Green Certificate by June 

MEPs demand safe and clean travel 

Digital Green Certificate: what is it? 

Commission proposes a Digital Green Certificate 

Digital Green Certificate: click icon below to download pdf

MEPs demand safe and clean travel


  • Pandemic has taken a heavy toll on EU tourism
  • Safe, clean and sustainable tourism is a must
  • Europe should strive to remain a leading destination


EU criteria for safe and clean travel, a common vaccination certificate and an EU hygiene seal for businesses must be part of a new EU strategy on tourism, MEPs say.

The resolution on an EU strategy for sustainable tourism, adopted by 577 votes to 31, and 80 abstentions on Thursday, notes that the COVID-19 outbreak has paralysed the EU’s tourism sector, with 6 out of 27 million jobs at risk. MEPs highlight that the tourism and travel sectors account for around 10% of the EU’s GDP. They therefore urge EU countries to include them in their recovery plans and to consider temporarily reducing VAT on these services.

‘Safe and clean’ tourism
Due to the pandemic, travellers want “safe, clean and more sustainable tourism”, Parliament says, calling on member states to fully implement common criteria for safe travel without delay. These should include an EU Health and Safety protocol for testing before departure, and establish that quarantine requirements should be applied only as a last resort.

A common vaccination certificate should facilitate travel and act as an alternative to PCR tests and quarantine requirements, MEPs say. A new certificate should follow privacy and data protection rules and could start being used once there is sufficient evidence that those who have been vaccinated do not transmit the virus.

The resolution also urges the Commission to introduce an EU hygiene certification seal, which could certify minimum COVID-19 virus prevention and control standards and could help restore consumer trust in the tourism and travel sectors.

Beyond the pandemic
MEPs welcome the ‘Re-open EU’ portal and urge EU countries to send clear information to the Commission when they apply or lift restrictions on free movement.

They also stress that the Commission must look beyond the pandemic and replace the 2010 strategy on EU tourism to maintain Europe’s standing as a leading destination. The text finally calls on the Commission to set up a European Agency for Tourism, which will support the tourism ecosystem, promote the European brand, provide the EU with the latest data on tourism, assist small businesses to access EU funding and help the tourism sector to prepare for future crises.

“This report calls for a truly European effort to relaunch tourism in the continent’s worst-affected regions. The vaccination certificate and sanitary seal have been taken on board, but what is needed now is proper European coordination for testing regimes that do not impose additional costs on European citizens. The EU needs to urgently speed up the roll out of vaccines across Europe and to put in place proper financial instruments to support the green and digital transition”, said EP rapporteur Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar (EPP, PT).

Air quality standards needed for all air pollutants that affect health, say MEPs


  • Pollutants such as ultrafine particles, black carbon, mercury, and ammonia must also be regulated
  • A watch list addressing substances or compounds of concern on grounds of health must be set-up
  • Air pollution causes more than 400,000 premature deaths in Europe per year


Parliament voted to request better enforcement of current air quality standards and called for new standards for non-regulated pollutants that affect health.

On Thursday, Parliament adopted a resolution on the implementation of the Ambient Air Quality (AAQ) Directives with 425 votes for, 109 against and 153 abstentions.

The resolution reminds that air pollution is still the number one environmental health risk both in the EU and globally. While the EU clean air policy has been successful in driving down emissions and concentrations of most air pollutants in Europe, and the AAQ Directives have been effective in setting common EU air quality standards, they have been only partially effective in reducing air pollution and curbing its adverse effects on health, quality of life, and the environment.

MEPs also highlight that many member states still do not fully comply with current air quality standards in spite of the start of infringement proceedings by the Commission and court orders demanding compliance. They therefore call on member states and the Commission to enforce already existing standards.


All pollutants with health impacts must be covered

MEPs welcome the commitment in the European Green Deal to revise the air quality standards and underline the need to cover all non-regulated pollutants that are proven to have a negative impact on health and the environment in the EU, such as ultrafine particles, black carbon, mercury, and ammonia.

They also call on the Commission to establish a watch list addressing substances or compounds of concern to the public or the scientific community on grounds of health, such as microplastics.

Finally, they stress the need to guarantee that air quality is being measured in appropriate locations in order to ensure correct estimation of air pollution, and call on improving public information and awareness on air pollution.



After the vote, rapporteur Javi LÓPEZ (SD, ES) said: “The AAQ Directives have been only partially effective in their objectives. We are therefore asking the Commission to increase ambition in the upcoming revision of the Directives in 2022 with more effective enforcement, improvement of the representativeness and transparency of our monitoring network, and revised EU air quality standards in line with the WHO guidelines and the latest scientific advice. We should bear in mind that air pollution causes approximately 400,000 premature deaths per year in Europe, and it has devastating effects on the environment. The EU cannot remain impassive towards this threat.”



The Commission fitness check of the AAQ Directives showed that they have been partially effective in achieving their overall objectives of reducing air pollution and curbing its adverse effects, but that EU air quality standards are still being breached, with a significant impact on human health and the environment.

The Commission has announced a zero pollution action plan for water, air, and soil, as part of the European Green Deal, to be published in May 2021.

MEPs ask for stronger regional action against climate change


  • Regional plans with focus on risk prevention and energy transition
  • Commission should monitor progress of regions in addressing climate change
  • More funds for outermost regions and small islands to adapt and innovate


In a race against time to limit global warming, Parliament calls for enhanced cooperation among EU regions and more support to outermost regions and islands.

A report adopted today by 572 votes in favour, 79 against and 37 abstentions highlights that cohesion policy is the biggest and most important EU investment tool, with an approved budget of over 330 billion euros for 2021-2027. Therefore, it can play a “crucial role” in helping the EU to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and fulfilling the Paris agreement.


MEPs call for local and regional authorities to translate EU climate targets into concrete local actions using a holistic approach and taking into consideration their region’s specificities, whilst relying on robust research and innovation policies.


Monitoring local and regional progress

Parliament recalls that at least 30% of both cohesion and regional development funds have to be spent on green projects in the current programming period and demands that all investments apply the ‘do no significant harm’ principle.


Regional plans should focus on risk prevention, energy transition to renewable sources, biodiversity and climate adaptation, and support civic engagement and locally owned projects. Cooperation between regions and cross-border projects and mechanisms, such as the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, should also be fostered, according to the report.


Moreover, MEPs demand an “effective methodology” for monitoring the progress of national governments and local and regional authorities in addressing climate change using a common standard for all.


More resources to outermost regions

The report stresses the need to better support the territories most affected by the transition towards climate neutrality, notably outermost regions and small islands, which have specific needs. Such territories “play a key role” as “innovation laboratories for the development of clean energy, smart mobility, waste management and circular economy.” They should be able to access sufficient economic resources in order to unleash this potential, members emphasise.


Parliament also urges member states to include the Smart Villages approach in their cohesion programmes and asks Commission to provide the necessary tools for implementing the proposal set out in the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. The strategy calls cities with at least 20 000 inhabitants to create urban forests and farms, parks, gardens, green roofs, and tree-lined streets. Such measures have a positive impact on urban microclimate and health, in particular for vulnerable groups, MEPs highlight.


Finally, the report asks for more synergies between the different EU cohesion funds, instruments and programmes, and that the link between public and private financing to be reinforced to increase the effectiveness of regional environment strategies.



Rapporteur Tonino PICULA (S&D, CS) stated: “Climate change is not only a matter of environment. It is also a matter of economic and social change, and European regions can make a great contribution in fighting it. This is what the Cohesion and ERDF funds help us achieve: investing in jobs, better life quality and greener cities, while winning the fight against climate change. The transition towards climate neutrality can only be reached in a socially fair and just pathway forwards, leaving no one behind.”



Global warming may reach 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels already between 2021 and 2027. The transition to a climate-neutral, sustainable and circular economy is not only essential to prevent massive biodiversity losses, but also to ensure the long-term competitiveness of the EU economy. According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), climate-related extremes caused around 11.1 billion euros in losses per year in its member states between 1980 and 2019.

Parliament urges EU to take drastic action to reduce marine litter


  • Increase collection, recycling and upcycling in the fisheries and aquaculture sector
  • Expanded polystyrene used in fishery products should be phased out
  • EU action plan needed to clean up polluted rivers and estuaries


Boosting recycling in the fisheries sector and substantially cutting the use of plastics are key to clean our seas, say MEPs.

In a report adopted on Thursday by 646 votes in favour, 3 against and 39 abstentions, MEPs stress that marine litter, and especially micro and nano plastic, “poses a serious threat to a number of marine animal species”, as well as to fishermen and consumers. They highlight that an average consumer of Mediterranean shellfish ingests around 11 000 fragments of plastic every year. The fishing sector is estimated to lose between 1 and 5% of its revenue because of marine pollution.


Fisheries and aquaculture waste accounts for 27% of marine litter. Therefore, Parliament urges the EU to accelerate the development of a circular economy in this sector by phasing out expanded polystyrene packages and improving marine waste collection and recycling channels. Research on sustainable materials and new designs for fishing gears are also key, MEPs add.


EU action plan to tackle pollution

Only 1.5% of fishing gear is currently recycled in the EU and some gear that is abandoned, lost or discarded at sea “remains active for months or even years”. These so-called ghost nets “indiscriminately impact all marine wildlife, including fish stocks”, the report alerts. To address this issue, MEPs demand the Commission and member states to adopt the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Voluntary Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear.


Parliament also demands an EU action plan to substantially reduce the use of plastics and to tackle the pollution of rivers, water courses and coastlines, highlighting that 80% of marine waste comes from the land. MEPs also call for more research to be carried out on the impact of marine litter and micro and nano plastic on fishery resources.



Catherine CHABAUD (Renew, FR), rapporteur: “Marine litter is a cross-cutting issue that needs to be addressed holistically. The fight against marine litter does not begin in the sea, but must involve an upstream vision that encompasses the complete lifecycle of a product. Each piece of litter that ends up in the sea is a product that has fallen out of the circular economy loop. To fight marine pollution, we must continue to promote virtuous business models and integrate new sectors like fisheries and aquaculture in these global efforts. There is no sustainable fishing without a healthy ocean.”


Only 1% of the plastic in the ocean is found floating on the surface, whilst most of it ends up in deep-sea. Every day, 730 tonnes of waste are dumped directly into the Mediterranean and every year a further 11 200 tonnes of plastics dumped in the environment find their way into the Mediterranean, affirms the report, based on information from the World Wildlife Fund.

Sassoli: “To earn trust, unity and transparency are needed”


David Sassoli stressed the need to strengthen democracy in an address to EU leaders at the start of the European Council on 25 March.

During the online meeting, Parliament’s President said that democracy depends on trust: “Democracy is a system of institutions and laws, which relies on citizens’ trust. As politicians, our role is to do whatever it takes to maintain that trust. This is even more true in times of crisis. Europe, like the rest of the world, is in the throes of a pandemic with grave social and economic implications.” He added: "Granted, our system and our institutions must be improved. But trust is earned by means of unity and transparency, by adopting a clear and consistent stance."


Sassoli also addressed the ongoing vaccine roll-out: “We need to step up vaccine production; speed up the distribution and administration of vaccines both inside and outside the European Union. But we cannot afford to be naïve. It is time to apply the principles of reciprocity and proportionality before giving the green light to exports from the EU.”


Speaking about China’s recent sanctions against MEPs and different EU bodies, the President said: “I am concerned about the growing trend towards authoritarianism and the many movesto destabilise democracy. These are developments we must take seriously. Attempts are being made to steer our recovery plan in certain directions, in a clear bid to undermine our independence.”


Sassoli also referred to the EU-China investment agreement Parliament will soon be discussing: “As always, Parliament will take great care to ensure that the imperatives of free trade do not outweigh human rights and fundamental freedoms.”


Cooperation with the US following the election of Joe Biden has also created new opportunities for the EU, Sasssoli said. “Renewed cooperation between the EU and the new administration in Washington will help lend impetus to our global leadership. We recognise how necessary this is, in the interests of our society.”

Parliament fast-tracks procedure to adopt Digital Green Certificate by June 


To facilitate its adoption by the summer, MEPs decided to accelerate the approval of the Digital Green Certificate, allowing for safe and free movement during the pandemic.

With 468 votes in favour, 203 against and 16 abstentions, MEPs supported using the urgency procedure (Rule 163), which allows for faster parliamentary scrutiny of the Commission’s proposals, while fully respecting its democratic prerogatives.

During the plenary debate on Wednesday, a large majority of MEPs supported a swift creation of the Digital Green Certificate, which aims to facilitate safe and free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Commission proposal, this could include information on whether a traveller has been vaccinated against COVID-19, a COVID-19 test result, and information on recovery from a COVID-19 infection.Several speakers highlighted the need to have strong data protection safeguards on personal and medical data, and stressed that those who have not been vaccinated must not face discrimination.


Next steps

Plenary will adopt its mandate for negotiations with Council, which may include amendments to the Commission’s proposal, during the next plenary session (26-29 April). As the committee steering this file through Parliament, the Civil Liberties Committee can request to have the file back, in order to start the talks. The outcome of the negotiations among the co-legislators will have to be endorsed by both Parliament and Council.



After the vote, the Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR (S&D, ES) said: “We need the Digital Green Certificate to re-establish our confidence in the Schengen zone while continuing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The certificate cannot be a precondition for free movement as this is a fundamental right in the European Union, and it cannot lead to discrimination against those individuals who do not hold one. Citizens’ data must be safe and only necessary data should be included in the certificate.”



On 17 March, the Commission tabled a proposal for a Regulation on a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate free movement in the EU - 2021/0068 (COD) and an accompanying proposal on third country nationals legally staying or residing in the EU (2021/0071 (COD).

Digital Green Certificate is the right move but speeding up vaccination is key


Most MEPs supported the Digital Green Certificate during today’s debate but warned that all efforts to recover will be void unless Europeans are vaccinated more quickly.

In a debate on the 25-26 March EU summit and the Digital Green Certificate with Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council, MEPs stressed the need to guarantee an adequate number of vaccines across the EU through a coordinated and unified approach. Some expressed their fear that the European Union’s credibility is at risk due to the mismanagement of vaccine contracts and the slow distribution of the jabs.

Several speakers referred to delays in delivering Astra Zeneca vaccines and to today’s discovery of almost 30 million doses in an Italian factory, with many speakers calling for legal action against the manufacturer. Others warned against an exports ban due to the risk of retaliatory measures that could result in further delays, with some highlighting that many poorer countries that are yet to receive a single dose would be unduly hurt by such a move.

The Digital Green Certificate proposed by the European Commission can help guarantee free movement within the European Union and support the much-needed recovery of the travel and tourism sector, a majority of the MEPs who took the floor said. However, some voiced concerns that those who have not been vaccinated may face discrimination, and highlighted the need to ensure highest standards of data protection.

MEPs also referred to relations with Turkey, with many calling for a tougher stance against its illiberal practices and condemning its withdrawal from the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on violence against women. On Russia, a similar tone prevailed, with some speakers calling for a more proactive stance in promoting European values and others reiterating the call for the Nord Stream 2 project to be discontinued. A few speakers also echoed President Sassoli’s solidarity to the MEPs targeted by Chinese sanctions and pointed out that the matter should also be on the summit agenda, with some asking for the continuation of trade talks to be made contingent upon China’s adherence to human rights.

Click on the names of the speakers to listen to their interventions:

Ana Paula ZACARIAS, for the Council

Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ for the Commission

Manfred WEBER (EPP, DE)


Katalin CSEHS (Renew Europe, HU)

Nicolas BAY (ID, FR)

Philippe LAMBERTS (Greens/European Free Alliance, BE)

Raffaele FITTO (ECR, IT)

Martin SCHIRDEWAN (The Left group in the European Parliament, DE)


You can catch up with the debate

Plenary will vote tomorrow on whether to apply the urgent procedure to the legislative proposal on the Digital Green Certificate.

EPP and EPP-CoR adopt declaration calling for a stronger European house of democracy to achieve recovery


Brussels, 23 March 2021


The European People’s Party (EPP) and the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions (EPP-CoR) have adopted a declaration calling for a stronger European house of democracy with villages, cities and regions serving as the foundations of the house to respond to challenges that know no border between the European, national, regional and local levels. With the deadline for Member States to submit National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRP) approaching, the declaration calls for engagement of local and regional authorities (LRAs) in preparation of the plans and to take on board the proposals of the most trusted level of governance and the one closest to citizens that knows where Europe needs to hit with precision for a successful recovery. The declaration outlines that through multi-level governance, Europe can deliver a quicker felt recovery that reaches the real economy and citizens. EPP-led villages, cities and regions called for sufficient resources and expressed commitment to bounce back to a more sustainable and digital economy that leaves no one behind.

The declaration emerged from an EPP Local Dialogue held online which saw the participation of local and regional, national and European leaders.

Olgierd Geblewicz, EPP-CoR President and President of West Pomerania Region said “LRAs are the first contact of citizens with democracy. Across Europe, we have been on the frontline of this pandemic. I firmly believe that we as the EPP are moving in the right direction pushing for a jobs-led recovery, shaping digital transition via local realities and bringing partners, including industry and business on board, when it comes to climate action. However, we need to also insist on a democratic recovery, where villages, cities and regions are fully engaged. Only by doing so we will achieve recovery that truly reflects the challenges on the ground.” In his remarks, Geblewicz emphasised the need to engage the local and regional level in recovery plans. “We cannot have the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility as a centralised and top-down exercise. It would be a lost opportunity for a plan that is supposed to strengthen economic, social and regional cohesion.”

Antonio López-Istúriz, MEP and EPP Secretary-General said “Europe starts at home. As our continent stood united in the face of COVID-19, European solidarity was rooted in every community, village, city and every region. A year ago when we entered the first lockdown, regional and local representatives stood on the frontline. Today, from the deployment of vaccines to the protection of our way of life and the forthcoming economic recovery, they guide us through this crisis. More than ever, we are all in this together. This is why I sign the declaration to achieve the recovery by strengthening the roots of our European democracy, initiated by the EPP-CoR.”

EPP-led villages, cities and regions have been at the forefront to fight the pandemic and its consequences. They are now committed to play an active role in the recovery process to ensure its success. During the EPP Local Dialogue, EPP-CoR members made a series of recommendations for this to happen including engagement of villages, cities and regions in preparation and implementation of NRRPs and taking on board their proposals, the swift mobilisation of recovery funds for cities and regions to implement projects on the ground, as well as direct funding to eliminate unfair and political distribution of EU funds by Member States. This would enable concrete and sustainable projects to be implemented across Europe.


Further information:
The full event can be watched here.
A summary of the event is available here.
The Declaration is available here.

COVID-19: updates on advance purchases of vaccines


MEPs will evaluate the funding COVID-19 vaccines purchased in advance with Sandra Gallina, Commission Director-General for Health.

On Tuesday, Sandra Gallina, the Commission’s Director-General for Health and Food Safety (SANTE), will update Members of the Budgetary Control Committee (CONT) on the eight advanced purchase agreements (APA) on coronavirus vaccines concluded by the Commission with pharmaceutical companies.


When: Tuesday 23 March 2021, 9.30 – 10.30 (indicative timing)

Where: European Parliament in Brussels, room A1G-3, Altiero Spinelli building and videoconference


MEPs expect to get clarifications on several issues that have emerged since the APAs were concluded, such as how effectively these agreements are being implemented, the quantity and quality of supplies, whether the companies are complying with the terms and deadlines of the contracts, and whether EU countries are adopting a consistent approach.


You can watch the debate live here.


Also on Tuesday, the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee will debate with Emer Cooke, Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), on the status of approving COVID-19 vaccines.



The European Commission has concluded eight advanced purchase agreements (APA) on coronavirus vaccines with pharmaceutical companies as part of the EU’s Vaccine Strategy. The European Parliament plays an essential role in scrutinising the financial management of the EU initiatives on vaccines to ensure it is sound.



Tuesday 16th March, 2021 – Maltco Lotteries supported the 61st edition of the SportMalta Awards – Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali. The final ceremony took place under a new virtual format, on Saturday 13th March. 


Notwithstanding the current situation, the National Lottery operator still sought to convey its appreciation towards the 2020 local talent achievements and to be at the forefront to contribute by joining as a main sponsor to the SportMalta Awards - Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali by means of financial support. This has been the 9th consecutive year for Maltco Lotteries to support this initiative. 

The company’s constant support for this event was affirmed by Maltco Lotteries CEO, Vasileios Kasiotakis. “We feel that that our contribution to sport is one of the core pillars of our CSR programme and therefore this event has become a part of our annual calendar.  Our support also incorporates financial support to the winners of the main categories as an encouragement and incentive to pursue further in their sports career.”


The President of the Malta Sports Journalists Association, Sandro Micallef thanked Maltco Lotteries for their continuous support not only towards the SportMalta Awards - Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali but also for their ongoing and unparalleled support for the developing of Sport in Malta.


The main category winners of the 2021 SportMalta Awards - Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali are:

Sportsman of the Year – DEJAN GRECH (Eight Ball Pool)

Sportswoman of the Year – HALEY BUGEJA (Football)

Male Sports Youth of the Year – RICHARD SCHULTHEIS (Sailing)

Female Sports Youth of the Year – TENISHIA THORNTON (Weightlifting)

Sports Team of the Year – MALTA NATIONAL FEMALE FOOTBALL TEAM (Football)

Sports Coach of the Year – DEVIS MANGIA (National Men Football Team Coach)

Sports Official of the Year – JOSEPH MUSCAT (General Secretary Malta Basketball Association)

Maltco Lotteries congratulates all the winners for their hard work and dedication and whilst wishing them best of luck, determination and success in furthering their career as a local leading athlete, encourages more athletes to invest in their sports career.


For more information you may email info@maltco.net, visit the company’s website, social media pages or call Maltco’s Helpline on 23883333.

Noah’s Ark launches fundraiser to refurbish dog sanctuary 


Dog shelter Noah’s Ark in Mellieħa has launched a fundraiser campaign seeking to raise €10,000 in donations to refurbish the shelter’s dog pens and infrastructure to better service dogs in the sanctuary. 


Noah’s Ark will use the donations to create bigger pens that are easier to clean, allowing the dogs to have more space to move around, and install insulated roofing to protect the dogs from the summer heat and winter cold. 


The dog sanctuary provides a home to some dogs who face difficulties in being adopted due to their age or persistent health conditions. Therefore, it is important that the dog pens are well-equipped, allowing for the dogs to be as comfortable as possible. Donations can be left at the GoGetFunding campaign page of Noah’s Ark [at gogetfunding.com/noahs-ark-dog-pens]. 


Fabio Ciappara, President of Noah’s Ark, said: “This refurbishment is long overdue. We continuously receive donations and help from our volunteers, but this revamp needs a bigger investment. While we are seeing success in our adoption rates, dogs keep coming and going—our sanctuary is always busy. We are doing our best to offer lovely housing to our dogs, whether it is a temporary or permanent solution. Every dog deserves the best care possible, wherever they are.”  


Noah’s Ark Dog Sanctuary was named winner of the Best Social Cause category at the 2020 Lovin Malta’s Social Media Awards. As the winner of its category, Noah’s Ark is benefitting from €10,000 in public relations, marketing and advertising consultation from BPC International, the award sponsor. 


Beyond this fundraising campaign, Noah’s Ark is always open for donations and helping hands in its dog sanctuary in Mellieħa, behind Torri l-Aħmar. 


Covid-19 variants: state of play and impact on vaccination in the EU


Existing Covid-19 vaccines should be effective against the new variants, experts told MEPs on 15 March. 

As part of Parliament’s continued close monitoring of the EU’s vaccination strategy, members of the environment and public health committee heard fromrepresentatives from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organizationon the efficacy of vaccines against mutations of the Covid-19 virus.


This was the latest in a string of hearings and events during which key players in the Covid-19 crisis are keeping MEPs updated on their work.


Three main variants in the EU

Dr Bruno Ciancio, head of surveillance at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said there are currently three main variants of concern in the EU: the UK variant, the South African variant and the Brazilian variant.


Given the current knowledge of the variants, he said the centre's models predict that the current measures and vaccination strategy rolled out by the EU will still be effective, but stressed the importance of countries keeping track of variants and their spread.

Main Covid-19 variants: number of cases in EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

  • British variant: 24,000 cases in 28 countries
  • South African variant: 900 cases in 18 countries
  • Brazilian variant: 200 cases in nine countrie


Quicker approval of vaccines

Dr Marco Cavaleri, chair of the European Medicines Agency's Covid-19 emergency task force, said the agency is closely monitoring studies on the vaccines’ effectiveness on new Covid-19 variants.


He said the approval process for vaccines adjusted for new variants would be faster: “Manufacturers don’t have to re-submit an entire file from scratch, but it will be approved as a variation on the doses that led to the initial approval of the vaccine. This will save a lot of time and will make things more straightforward and flexible.”


The need for a globally coordinated response

Katherine O’Brien, vaccines and biologicals director at the World Health Organization, stressed the need for a globally- coordinated response to ensure the proper surveillance and evaluation of variants, measuring their potential impact on vaccines, modifications to vaccine composition and vaccine access and allocation.


She also highlighted the importance of messaging to maintain public confidence and the high risk of misinformation about the efficacy of existing vaccines.


An EU plan to foster partnerships between all stakeholders

The European Commission has reacted to the new coronavirus variants with its Hera incubator preparedness plan, which was presented to the environment and public health committee on Monday. The aim is to coordinate researchers, industry, regulators and public authorities to ensure the fast development, approval and sufficient production of vaccines for new variants.

The Hera incubator focuses on: 

  • Rapid detection and adaptation to virus variants
  • Faster approval of vaccines
  • Better production capacities


Check out our timeline and find out how the EU is tackling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic

Civil Liberties Committee calls for further improvements to the GDPR implementation and strengthened enforcement 


  • GDPR is a global standard and factor of convergence in international protection of personal data. 
  • Strong and effective enforcement of the GDPR vis-à-vis large digital platforms, integrated companies and other digital services is necessary. 
  • Supervisory authorities should have sufficient resources at their disposal. 


Civil Liberties Committee adopted on Tuesday the draft resolution evaluating the GDPR and called for effective enforcement and adequate resources for supervisory authorities.

In the draft resolution adopted on Tuesday with 41 votes to 2 and 24 abstentions, the Civil Liberties Committee concludes that so far the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been an overall success and that it was not necessary at this stage to update or review the legislation.


An important tool for EU digital diplomacy 

The European Commission as well as Member States are urged to push for the creation of international standards that are shaped on European values in international fora. A dominant European position in this field would help to better defend the rights of EU citizens, promote trustful digital innovation and accelerate the economic growth, say MEPs.


The supervisory authorities and enforcement 

MEPs are concerned that many supervisory authorities across the EU lack sufficient human, technical and financial resources to perform their tasks and exercise their powers effectively. These authorities should be able to deal swiftly and thoroughly with an increasing number of resource-intensive and complex cases and to coordinate and facilitate cooperation between the national data protection authorities (DPAs). The success of this mechanism depends on the time and effort that DPAs can dedicate to the handling of individual cases and that lack of political will and resources has immediate consequences for the proper work of the mechanism.


The Committee also points to the uneven enforcement of the GDPR by national DPAs resulting in the burden of enforcement falling on individual citizens. The draft resolution also calls on the Irish and Luxembourg DPAs to speed up their ongoing investigations into major cases.


Facilitate implementation for SMEs, schools and clubs

As the application of the GDPR has been particularly challenging for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and some other organisations, the MEPs wish to see more support, information and training to be made available by national authorities, the European Commission and the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to help with the quality of implementation.


Freedom of expression and information

MEPs are also concerned over abuse of the GDPR by some Member States public authorities in order to curtail journalists and NGOs and underscore that data protection rules should not be used as a way to put pressure on journalists to disclose their sources.


GDPR in public health polices 

As pointed out by the MEPs the COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted that clear guidance from the DPAs and the EDPB is necessary on the appropriate implementation of the GDPR in public health policies.



Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), committee Chair and rapporteur, said: “The Civil Liberties Committee recognises that the General Data Protection Regulation has become the paramount standard for the protection of personal data around the world, placing the EU at the forefront of international discussions about data protection. However, we acknowledge that further work is needed in certain areas and therefore call on the Commission, the supervisory authorities and the Member States to improve efforts and resources in order to achieve full implementation and satisfactory enforcement of the GDPR across the Union.“

Next steps


Parliament as a whole will vote on the non-legislative resolution during the next plenary session (24-25 March).

Parliament declares the European Union an ‘‘LGBTIQ Freedom Zone’’


  • The declaration is a response to more than 100 ‘‘LGBTIQ-free zones’’ in Poland
  • The broader context of increased discrimination and attacks on the LGBTIQ community
  • The commission should use all tools in its power to address violations of the fundamental rights of LGBTIQ people


In response to the backsliding of LGBTIQ rights in some EU countries, notably Poland and Hungary, MEPs declared the EU an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone” on Thursday.

Two years after the first Polish local authority declared itself an ‘‘LGBTIQ-free zone’’, Parliament declared the EU to be an ‘‘LGBTIQ Freedom Zone’’ in a resolution adopted by 492 votes in favour, 141 against and 46 abstentions.


Since March 2019, more than 100 Polish regions, counties and municipalities have adopted resolutions declaring themselves to be free from LGBTIQ “ideology”. According to these resolutions, local governments should refrain from encouraging tolerance towards LGBTIQ people and withdraw financial assistance from organisations promoting non-discrimination and equality.

Increased discrimination and attacks against LGBTIQ people in Poland

MEPs also highlight that these ‘‘LGBTIQ-free zones’’ are part of a broader context in which the LGBTIQ community in Poland is subject to increased discrimination and attacks, notably growing hate speech from public authorities, elected officials (including the current President), and pro-government media. They also deplore the arrests of LGBTIQ rights activists, and the attacks and bans on Pride marches.


Although the Commission rejected applications for EU funding under its town-twinning programme from Polish towns that adopted such resolutions, MEPs urge the institution to go further. The Commission should use all tools, they say, including infringement procedures, Article 7 of the Treaty on EU, as well as the recently adopted regulation on protecting the EU’s budget, in order to address violations of the fundamental rights of LGBTIQ people in the EU.

Deteriorating situation in Hungary
The EP resolution also mentions the deteriorating situation in Hungary. In November 2020, the Hungarian town of Nagykáta adopted a resolution banning the ‘‘dissemination and promotion of LGBTIQ propaganda’’. One month later, the national Parliament adopted constitutional amendments that further restrict the rights of LGBTIQ people, that do not take the existence of transgender and non-binary persons into account and limit their right to a family life.


‘‘LGBTIQ persons everywhere in the EU should enjoy the freedom to live and publicly show their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of intolerance, discrimination or persecution, and authorities at all levels of governance across the EU should protect and promote equality and the fundamental rights of all, including LGBTIQ persons’’, MEPs conclude.

Rule of law: MEPs warn EC to activate the budget mechanism without further delay


MEPs stressed that Parliament will use all means at its disposal if the Commission fails to fulfill its obligations in using the new budget protection mechanism.

In a plenary debate on Thursday, MEPs quizzed Commissioner Hahn on why the Commission has not yet used the mechanism to protect the EU’s budget from generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law. Highlighting that the new rules entered into force on 1 January, almost all speakers reiterated that the provisions on the mechanism are legally binding, in contrast to the European Council’s conclusions on the matter, which carry no legal effect. Several speakers highlighted that using the mechanism is necessary to fulfill the EU’s promises and meet citizens’ expectations, in order to avoid losing credibility. On a similar note, some MEPs referred to the need to protect the real beneficiaries of EU funding (such as students and civil society) and asked for clarity on the state of the Commission’s digital platform dedicated to this end.


Many MEPs reacted strongly to Commissioner Hahn’s statement that work on the guidelines for the new mechanism needs to be completed before activating the mechanism, and that these need to take into account the ECJ ruling (expected in May) where appropriate. Highlighting an array of long-standing issues and the continuous deterioration of the situation in some countries, including Hungary and Poland, they asked for immediate action to prevent further damage to the EU’s budget and values. Some also pointed out the Commission’s obligation to act as a politically independent body and its role as the guardian of the Treaties.


In contrast, a few speakers denounced the debate and the mechanism itself as politically motivated, with some among them asking for the Council’s conclusions to be respected.


You can catch up with the debate here.


Next steps

Parliament will vote on a draft resolution on this topic during its March II plenary session, scheduled for 24-25 March.



According to the rules approved in December 2020, the Commission, after establishing that there has been a breach, will propose that the conditionality mechanism should be triggered against an EU government, and subsequently either cut or freeze payments to that member state from the EU budget. The Council will then have one month to vote on the proposed measures (or three months in exceptional cases), by a qualified majority.

Fishing rules: Compulsory CCTV for certain vessels to counter infractions


  • On-board cameras (CCTV) to be compulsory for vessels that are likely to not comply
  • Recreational fishermen who do not respect EU conservation measures or fisheries rules should be penalised
  • New measures to address loss of fishing gear
  • Fish should be traced throughout the whole food chain, including processed and imported products


Parliament adopted today its negotiating position on the new Fisheries Control system, which will reform the rules that have governed EU fishing activities since 2010.

By 401 votes in favour, 247 against and 47 abstentions, MEPs agreed to use new technologies to better enforce fishing rules and improve security and transparency. They also insist that consumers must know when, where and how the products they buy are caught.


The use of on-board cameras (CCTV) to carry out checks on landing obligations should be compulsory for a “minimum percentage” of vessels longer than 12 meters and which have been identified as “posing a serious risk of non-compliance”. The equipment will also be imposed as an accompanying sanction for all vessels that commit two or more serious infringements. Vessels that are willing to adopt CCTV on a voluntary basis should be offered incentives such as additional allocation of quotas or having their infringement points removed.


MEPs back the proposal to harmonise sanctions and demand that a “European Union Register” of infringements be set up to centralise information from all member states. They also call for an “appropriate system of sanctions” for infringements committed by recreational fishermen.


Reduce waste, increase security and transparency

In line with the EU’s Farm-to-Fork Strategy, Parliament demands that the origin of fishery and aquaculture products must be traceable throughout the whole food chain, including processed and imported products. Data on the species of fish, the location, date and time it was caught, and the type of gear used should be made available.


In an effort to reduce marine litter, MEPs agree that all vessels should be obliged to notify national authorities when they lose fishing gear and to carry on board the necessary equipment to retrieve it.


All vessels should also be equipped with a geolocation device allowing them to be automatically located and identified, a measure deemed necessary to improve security at sea, according to the adopted text.


Parliament also proposes to increase the margin of error accepted on the weight of some species estimated by fishermen on board (margin of tolerance).



Clara AGUILERA (S&D, ES), rapporteur, stated: “We took important steps towards having common rules. Inspections on fisheries in Spain must not differ from those in Denmark, Poland or Italy. They must be harmonised and more efficient, without resulting in more red tape for the sector.”


Next Steps

With today’s vote, Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with Council. According to the current proposal, operators would have four years following the entry into force of the rules to equip vessels with the new technologies required.



On 5 February, the Committee on Fisheries adopted its position regarding the EU’s Fisheries Control system. The proposal updates five existing regulations and harmonise control and inspection systems, as well as sanctions, across EU countries.

MEPs: Put a carbon price on certain EU imports to raise global climate ambition 


  • All products under the EU Emissions Trading System should be included
  • Revenue to be used to step up EU support for the objectives of the Green Deal
  • The mechanism must not be misused to further trade protectionism


To raise global climate ambition and prevent ‘carbon leakage’, the EU must place a carbon price on certain imports from less climate-ambitious countries, say MEPs.

On Wednesday, Parliament adopted a resolution on a WTO-compatible EU carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) with 444 votes for, 70 against and 181 abstentions.


The resolution underlines that the EU’s increased ambition on climate change must not lead to ‘carbon leakage’ as global climate efforts will not benefit if EU production is just moved to non-EU countries that have less ambitious emissions rules.


MEPs therefore support to put a carbon price on certain goods imported from outside the EU, if these countries are not ambitious enough about climate change. This would create a global level playing field as well as an incentive for both EU and non-EU industries to decarbonise in line with the Paris Agreement objectives.

MEPs stress that it should be WTO-compatible and not be misused as a tool to enhance protectionism. It must therefore be designed specifically to meet climate objectives. Revenues generated should be used as part of a basket of own revenues to boost support for the objectives of the Green Deal under the EU budget, they add.


Mechanism to be linked to a reformed EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) 

The new mechanism should be part of a broader EU industrial strategy and cover all imports of products and commodities covered by the EU ETS. MEPs add that already by 2023, and following an impact assessment, it should cover the power sector and energy-intensive industrial sectors like cement, steel, aluminium, oil refinery, paper, glass, chemicals and fertilisers, which continue to receive substantial free allocations, and still represent 94 % of EU industrial emissions.

They add that linking carbon pricing under the CBAM to the price of EU allowances under the EU ETS will help to combat carbon leakage but underline that the new mechanism must not lead to double protection for EU installations.

You can watch a video of the plenary debate here.



After the vote, Parliament rapporteur Yannick Jadot (Greens/EFA, FR) said:


“The CBAM is a great opportunity to reconcile climate, industry, employment, resilience, sovereignty and relocation issues. We must stop being naïve and impose the same carbon price on products, whether they are produced in or outside the EU, to ensure the most polluting sectors also take part in fighting climate change and innovate towards zero carbon. This is our best chance of remaining below the 1.5°C warming limit, whilst also pushing our trading partners to be equally ambitious in order to enter the EU market.


Next steps

The Commission is expected to present a legislative proposal on a CBAM in the second quarter of 2021 as part of the European Green Deal as well as a proposal on how to include the revenue generated to finance part of the EU budget.


Parliament has played an important role in pushing for more ambitious EU climate legislation. It declared a climate emergency on 28 November 2019 and wants the EU and its member states to become climate neutral in 2050 and reduce GHG emissions with 60% by 2030.

Better cooperation between national authorities on taxation of digital trading


  • Tax authorities should share information more quickly
  • Sanctions should be introduced for platforms and need to be harmonised
  • Non-EU platforms must register in an EU member state where they have substantial economic activity


On Wednesday, MEPs recommended changes to draft legislation aiming to trace and tax the sales that people make through online platforms more effectively.

The legislation, spearheaded through the EP by Sven Giegold (Greens, DE), aims to oblige digital platforms to report the income earned by those selling goods and services on their platforms. Tax authorities would also be obliged share this information with each other. It was adopted by 568 votes in favour, 63 votes against, and 64 abstentions.


Platforms need to register in the EU and can face sanctions

Non-EU platforms should be required to register and report their activities in the single market in a single member state, and must have substantial economic activities in the chosen member state. Moreover, MEPs opted to provide for harmonised sanctions against platforms that do not fulfil their reporting obligations.


Quicker exchange of requested information

A tax authority receiving a request for information should provide it no later than three months, rather than six months, from the date it receives the request. By the end of 2022, the Commission should submit a report assessing country-by-country how well the system works, including how effective the information exchanges are.


Scope of the automatic and compulsory exchange of information

A tax authority should automatically communicate to the authority of another member state not only the information that is available but also that which could reasonably be made available.


As from 1 January 2022, no new bilateral or multilateral advance pricing arrangements should be agreed by member states with third countries that do not permit their disclosure to the tax authorities of the other member states.


Quote of the rapporteur, Sven Giegold (Greens, DE)

“Extending the directive to cover digital platforms will close one loophole, but others remain wide open. Exchange of information will only be effective once all types of income and assets are consistently included under this directive. Unfortunately, the Council has already decided its position without waiting for the European Parliament's proposals and has decided to postpone implementing improvements by one year to January 2023. It is irresponsible to forego urgently needed tax revenues in this time of crisis. The EU Commission must take its responsibility in a time of public deficit seriously and propose a strong review of the directive.”

MEPs: Companies must no longer cause harm to people and planet with impunity


  • Due diligence requires companies to identify, address and remedy their impact on human rights and the environment throughout their value chain
  • Rules should apply to companies operating in EU internal market, including those from outside the EU
  • Sanctions for non-compliance and legal support for victims of corporations in third countries
  • Ban on import of products linked to severe human rights violations such as forced or child labour


Parliament paves the way for a new EU law that requires companies to address human rights and environmental standards within their value chains.

The legislative initiative report (adopted on Wednesday by 504 votes in favour, 79 against and 112 abstention) calls for the urgent adoption of a binding EU law that ensures companies are held accountable and liable when they harm - or contribute to harming - human rights, the environment and good governance. It must also guarantee that victims can access legal remedies. The Commission has announced it will present its legislative proposal on the matter later this year.


Sustainability and good governance

Binding EU due diligence rules would oblige companies to identify, address and remedy aspects of their value chain (all operations, direct or indirect business relations, investment chains) that could or do infringe on human rights (including social, trade union and labour rights), the environment (contributing to climate change or deforestation, for example) and good governance (such as corruption and bribery).

MEPs stress that due diligence is primarily a preventative instrument that requires companies to take proportionate measures based on the likelihood and severity of the impact, the sector of activity, the size and length of the value chain and size of the undertaking.


Bringing about change beyond EU borders

Companies that want to access the EU internal market, including those established outside the EU, would have to prove that they comply with environmental and human rights due diligence obligations.

Parliament calls for additional measures, including a ban on importing products linked to severe human rights violations such as forced or child labour. EU trade agreements should include these aims in their trade and sustainable development chapters. MEPs also ask the Commission to thoroughly review whether companies based in Xinjiang exporting to the EU are involved in human rights breaches, especially those related to repression of Uighurs.

In order to guarantee effective reparations for victims, companies should be held liable for their actions and be fined for causing harm or contributing to it, unless they can prove that they have acted in line with due diligence obligations and taken measures to prevent such harm. The rights of victims or stakeholders in third countries – who are especially vulnerable – would also be better protected, as they would be able to take companies to court under EU law.


Broad scope and help for SMEs

To create a level playing field, the future legislative framework on due diligence should be broad and apply to all large undertakings governed by EU law or established in the European Union, including those providing financial services. The rules should also apply to publicly listed SMEs and high-risk SMEs, which should receive technical assistance to comply with the requirements.



“This new law on corporate due diligence will set the standard for responsible business conduct in Europe and beyond. We refuse to accept that deforestation or forced labour are part of global supply chains. Companies will have to avoid and address harm done to people and planet in their supply chains.The new rules will give victims a legal right to access support and to seek reparations, and will ensure fairness, a level playing field and legal clarity for all businesses, workers and consumers”, said rapporteur Lara Wolters (S&D, NL).

Parliament adopts InvestEU programme for strategic and innovative investments


  • Programme aims to generate around €400 billion in additional investments
  • Companies will receive aid to get through the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Launchpad for investments that would otherwise be difficult to finance


On Tuesday, MEPs adopted the new InvestEU programme, which will mobilise public and private investments and guarantees simplified access to financing.

Parliament endorsed the provisional agreement reached with the Council with 496 votes in favour, 57 against and 144 abstentions.

With €26 billion (in current prices) set aside in the EU budget as a guarantee, InvestEU is expected to mobilise €400 billion to be invested across the European Union from 2021 to 2027. The new programme is part of the €750 billion Next Generation EU recovery package, and will foster strategic, sustainable and innovative investments and address market failures, sub-optimal investments and the investment gap in targeted sectors.


Sustainable and strategic investments

InvestEU supports strategic investments in manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and supplies - crucial in the midst of a pandemic - as well as the production of Information and Communication Technology, components and devices in the EU.

It will also finance sustainable projects that can prove their positive environmental, climate and social impact. Those projects will be subject to the principle of “do no significant harm”, meaning they must not negatively affect the EU’s environmental and social objectives.


Furthermore, MEPs made sure that InvestEU contributes to achieving the target of spending at least 30% of EU funds on climate objectives by 2027 and that it provides support for SMEs negatively affected by the pandemic and at risk of insolvency.


Additional investments of around €400 billion

The additional investment across the European Union, expected to amount to €400 billion and the EU guarantee will be allotted to the following policy objectives:


  • sustainable infrastructure: around 38%
  • research, innovation and digitalisation: 25 %
  • SMEs: around 26%
  • social investment and skills: around 11%.


Moreover, the European Investment Fund (EIF), which will contribute to the implementation of the InvestEU programme, will get an additional €375 million.



José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT), lead MEP from the Budgets Committee said during the debate on Tuesday: “The EU needs public and private investments to become more competitive, productive and to boost its territorial cohesion. Invest EU brings in additional funds to turn projects that otherwise wouldn’t see the light of day into reality. Our strategic sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, should be independent. We need to help regions that suffered the most, and EU citizens deserve investment and high-quality jobs”.


Irene Tinagli (S&D, IT) leading the negotiations on behalf of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee added: : “We diverted more funds to meet environmental targets, to support SMEs, which suffered because of the pandemic, and we succeeded in placing Invest EU at the heart of NextGenerationEU. Since InvestEU will also help us to recover from the pandemic, we created synergies with the Recovery and Resilience Facility, allowing member states to implement part of their recovery and resilience plans through InvestEU”.


Next steps

Once Council has also formally approved the regulation, it will enter into force on the twentieth day after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

Covid highlighted women’s resilience, women at the forefront underscore on Women’s Day 


Covid’s impact on women, domestic violence, and women in business with empowerment, leadership and mental workload, were tackled in a debate on the live on European Parliament in Malta Facebook page, marking Women’s Day 2021. 


Women who stood up and stood out in Covid times were centre stage with MEPs Roberta Metsola and Josianne Cutajar. 

Roberta Metsola highlighted that Covid 19 exacerbated the gender gap as women found themselves both full-time workers and full-time carers. 

“This pandemic has exposed and amplified pre-existing inequalities and vulnerabilities. It has not been the great equaliser,” said MEP Metsola. 

Watch: MEP Metsola’s full speech in the public discussion on Women and Leadership in Malta 
Throughout the Pandemic organised by the EP Office in Malta for Women’s Day 2021 


Josianne Cutajar highlighted the strength of self-employed women to carry on during the pandemic. The Covid recovery phase, she said, provides an opportunity to narrow the gender gap, but a lot more needs to done beyond it. 

Watch: MEP Cutajar’s full speech in the public discussion on Women and Leadership in Malta Throughout the Pandemic organised by the EP Office in Malta for Women’s Day 2021 

Both MEPs and other speakers highlighted the blight of domestic abuse. MEP Metsola underscored what can be done, such as increasing criminal law sanctions, going after perpetrators of gender-based violence, and pushing for countries to adopt and implement the Istanbul convention. 


For MEP Cutajar, domestic violence, stress, low income, isolation, mental health issues were already adversely affecting the lives of women across the world, and Covid made worse a situation that was already a challenge for women. The European Parliament needs to work more to ensure an effective “social recovery” from this pandemic, she says. 

Watch: MEPs Roberta Metsola and Josianne Cutajar on domestic abuse 

MEP Metsola, who has recently been elected first Vice President of the European Parliament, pointed the importance of female role models, and the need for both genders to work together to cut the gender pay gap. 

Watch: MEP Roberta Metsola on female role models and the gender pay gap 

MEP Cutajar spotlighted women at the forefront of combatting the pandemic not only in healthcare, but also in business, education, community organising and ensuring the upkeep of society in the midst of the crisis. 

Watch: MEP Josianne Cutajar on women at the forefront 


Two panels of leading women discussed the impact of Covid in key sectors and women’s response as well as individual initiatives taken by women in civil society and education during the pandemic.   

Prof. Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, Director of the WHO Division of Country Health Policies and Systems), shared the view that  Covid has not had an equal impact on men and women, as the latter must juggle homeschooling, caring, shopping and their regular jobs.  She also highlighted the mental health impact which the lockdown has had on girls and women, amplified by Dr Flavia Zimmermann, the President of EURED, a non-profit organization supporting marginalized people in challenging circumstances, who has witnessed several women facing such problems. 


Dr Lara Dimitrijevic, Director of the Women’s Rights Foundation, pointed out that resources to access basic services have become harder for women.  To counter the fact that women were reaching out less during the lockdown,the Foundation set up a helpline, to support and empower women, and to give them access to as much information as possible.

The public discussion highlighted other successful initiatives and positive elements concerning women, which emerged during the pandemic. 

Ms Mariella Camilleri, President of the Business & Professional Women Malta, remarked the resilience of women, pointing to the fact that several women had taken the opportunity to start their own business. 

Dana Carmont, founder of the FEMM community in Malta spoke about the ‘essential handbag’ campaign which had women in small businesses coming together to donate handbags with indispensable supplies for women who were stuggling with the ill effects of the pandemic. 

Others trail-blazed in education, including Rebecca Caruana, author and medical student, who after volunteering with the 911 helpline service, went on to collaborate with researchers in New York to write an informative e-book on Covid to give clarity during a time of great uncertainty at the beginning of the pandemic. 


The webinar also included inspiring interventions by Maja Theuma, a young paralympic swimmer and Melissa Aquilina, from the Deaf Youth Association of Malta. 

The discussion was opened by the Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta, Dr Mario Sammut and Ms Mikela Fenech Pace moderated.

Women and Leadership in Malta throughout the Pandemic Women's Day online public discussion on Friday 5 March 2021 


Women who stood up and stood out in Covid times will be centre stage with MEPs Roberta Metsola and Josianne Cutajar in an online public discussion to celebrate international Women’s Day, organised by the European Parliament Office in Malta. 


The discussion will be held live on Friday 5th March 2021, starting at 10am, on the European Parliament in Malta / Il-Parlament Ewropew f’Malta Facebook page. 

Prof. Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, Director of the WHO Division of Country Health Policies and Systems),  Dr Lara Dimitrijevic, Director of the Women’s Rights Foundation, Ms Mariella Camilleri, President of the Business & Professional Women Malta, and Dr Rebecca Caruana, co-author of a COVID-19 e-book, will tackle the Impact of Covid on Key Sectors and Women’s Response. 

Dr Flavia Zimmerman, Head of Eured, Ms Dana Carmont, Founder of Female Entrepreneurs in Malta and Ms Maja Theuma, Paralympic swimmer and Malta SMAS 2020 finalist, will discuss the Individual Initiatives Taken by Women in Civil Society during Pandemic, with a message from Ms Melissa Aquilina, Founder of the Deaf Youth Association Malta. 

Ms Mikela Fenech Pace will be moderating the discussion, to be opened by the Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta, Dr Mario Sammut. 

The public can participate in this discussion by tuning in in to the EP Malta’s official Facebook page and addressing their comments and questions directly to the panelists during the debate. More updates will be posted on the EP Malta’s social media channels in the coming days. The discussion will be in English. 

COVID-19: MEPs discuss ways to increase roll-out of vaccines with pharma CEOs


In a hearing today, MEPs demanded clarity on vaccine deliveries and insisted that pharmaceutical companies honour their contracts.

MEPs quizzed CEOs and representatives of leading pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Moderna, CureVac, Novavax, Pfizer and Sanofi, on how to remove obstacles to faster commercialisation, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines.


You can watch a recording of the hearing here.


During the discussion, MEPs asked about global technology transfers, sharing patents, and how industry intends to update the vaccines in order to keep up with emerging variants. They also grilled CEOs on how the European Medicines Agency could speed up market approval at European level. Some MEPs asked whether an EU export ban on vaccines would help Europe compared to other countries that have introduced export bans. In their remarks, industry representatives highlighted the challenge of building production capacity for entirely new and complex products, and the international nature of supply chains.


“This was a world first: CEOs of the main vaccine manufacturers appearing before elected representatives. It’s good for transparency, and it’s good for democracy. It is crucial to regularly check accountability and commitments made. Moreover, the race to produce vaccines is intensifying and we are gearing up to use all available tools to support it. This was the point of this hearing”, said Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Chairman Pascal Canfin (Renew Europe, FR).


“The European Parliament will play its role fully to win the vaccine deployment battle. The contact group put in place by the Parliament and Commission will further strengthen our role”, he added.


“Today’s challenge is about how to produce extremely complex products on a scale that is absolutely unprecedented. This is an industrial challenge”, said Industry, Research and Energy Committee Chairman Cristian Bușoi (EPP, RO). “This hearing was an exercise in democratic accountability. We wanted to know where the production bottlenecks are and to have a clear picture about the industry’s commitments and obligations. But we also want to help the industry deliver the doses, because our priority is to get vaccination done”.



Developing and distributing effective and safe vaccines against COVID-19 is the most effective response to the pandemic and is at the heart of the EU's recovery strategy. Given the importance of increasing production and access to vaccines, this hearing aimed to establish the facts and to find solutions to improve the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in Europe.


Another objective was to have an open discussion with the CEOs of the pharmaceutical industry, the Commission and other stakeholders on how to overcome impediments to speedier commercialisation, manufacturing, distribution and equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines.

Tourism MEPs advocate common criteria for safe and clean travel


  • Pandemic paralysed EU tourism
  • Future lies in ‘safe and clean’ sustainable tourism
  • EU tourism sector employs 27 million people, with 6 million jobs currently at risk


EU criteria for safe and clean tourism, including a common vaccination certificate, should be a part of a new EU strategy on sustainable tourism, said MEPs.

The draft resolution on establishing an EU strategy for sustainable tourism, adopted by Transport and Tourism Committee on Thursday by 47 votes in favour and 2 against, urges EU countries to include the tourism and travel sectors in their recovery plans and consider temporarily reducing VAT on these services.


‘Safe and clean’ tourism

The text says that the pandemic shifted traveller’s demand toward ‘safe and clean’ and more sustainable tourism. It asks the member states to fully and without delay implement common criteria for safe travel, with an EU Health Safety protocol for testing before departure, and applying quarantine requirement as a last resort.


MEPs want a common vaccination certificate, which could become an alternative to PCR tests and quarantine requirements, once there is sufficient evidence that vaccinated persons do not transmit the virus, or mutual recognition of vaccination procedures. They also stress the importance of deploying EU Passenger Locator Form and developing voluntary, interoperable and anonymised tracking, tracing and warning apps.


The draft resolution also urges the Commission to introduce the EU hygiene certification seal, which could certify minimum COVID-19 virus prevention and control standards and could help to restore consumer’s trust in tourism and travel sectors.


MEPs also welcomes ‘Re-open EU’ portal and urges EU countries to send clear information on the application or lifting of future restrictions on free movement to the Commission.


New agency for tourism

MEPs advocate a need to look beyond the pandemic and replace the 2010 strategy on EU tourism to maintain Europe’s standing as a leading destination. The text finally calls on the Commission to set up a European Agency for Tourism.



“With summer just around the corner, we want to avoid past errors and put in place uniform travel measures, such as an EU protocol for tests before departure, a vaccination certificate, and a European sanitary seal. Tourism is one of the sectors that has been hit the hardest by this pandemic. It needs to be properly included in the Member States’ recovery plans and a mechanism to clearly show whether it benefits from EU support”, said EP rapporteur Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar (EPP, PT).


Next steps

The resolution on establishing an EU strategy for sustainable tourism now needs to be voted by the full house of the Parliament, possibly during the March II session.



The COVID-19 outbreak has paralysed the EU tourism sector, which employs 27 million people (contributing around 10% of EU GDP), with 6 million jobs currently at risk.



Wednesday 24th February 2021 - Maltco Lotteries are once again cooperating on research projects led by academics at the Institute of Digital Games at the University of Malta. This announcement has been made as part of the company’s annual CSR programme.  


At a press conference held on Wednesday 24th February at the University of Malta, Maltco Lotteries signed a collaboration agreement for a minimum of 3 years with the University’s Institute of Digital Games. The cooperation was announced in the presence of Minister for Economy and Industry Hon. Silvio Schembri who was present on behalf of the government, together with University of Malta Rector Prof. Alfred J. Vella and the director and professor at the institute of Digital Games Prof. Georgios N. Yannakakis.  


Maltco Lotteries CEO Vasileios Kasiotakis expressed his appreciation towards this collaboration as it will provide an opportunity for the institute to research, teach and transfer knowledge to UM students. “Maltco Lotteries strongly supports innovation in digital game, design and technology in Malta. This bursary of studies will further encourage more students, both nationally and internationally, to develop games at the Maltese university.” commented Maltco Lotteries CEO Vasileios Kasiotakis.


During the press conference University Rector Prof. Alfred J. Vella showed his gratitude towards Maltco Lotteries donation. “I welcome this sponsorship as it will contribute to expand to more programmes at the Institute of Digital Games and provide the skills and knowledge needed in the industry.” 


In his keynote speech, the director of the Institute of Digital Games at the University of Malta, Prof. Georgios N. Yannakakis highlighted that Maltco’s support provides students with the opportunity to gain experience in innovative games research and develop new playful and generative possibilities in game design and technology.


In the closing speech, Minister for Economy and Industry Silvio Schembri commended MALTCO for this initiative aimed at enhancing students’ skills in digital games for enhanced preparation to succeed in the growing career opportunities being offered in this field. He remarked that education is at the core of Malta’s strategic execution for the growth of the local Digital Games Sector. “The industry has a thirst for the best of talents, and I will continue to ensure that all educational stakeholders spearheaded by the Gaming Malta Foundation continue to work hand -in-hand ensuring that Malta has a strong talent pipeline feeding into the industry” said Schembri.  


He recalled how in recent years, the expansion of the Institute for Digital Games to a new building was a step in the right direction for the University of Malta to continue to excel in the educational programmes provided at Post Grad M.Sc. and Doctorate levels. He added that the Institute of digital games research is at the crossroads of two of government’s strategies launched in recent years - the National AI Strategy and the Video Games and e-sports Strategy.


For more information you may email info@maltco.net, visit the company’s website, social media pages or call Maltco’s Helpline on 23883333.


For more information you may email info@maltco.net, visit the company’s website, social media pages or call Maltco’s Helpline on 23883333.

Il-Lockdown Festival Malta jirbaħ il-Premju taċ-Ċittadin mogħti mill-Parlament Ewropew 


Lockdown Festival Malta huma r-rebbieha nazzjonali tal-Premju taċ-Ċittadin Ewropew għal kisbiet eċċezzjonali moghti mill-Parlament Ewropew. Din kienet l-ewwel sena li l-Premju kien miftuħ għal nominazzjonijiet mill-pubbliku.


Il-Lockdown Festival Malta ġabar flimkien 17-il artist jew grupp kemm lokali kif ukoll internazzjonali biex jesebixxu live minn ġewwa djarhom stess.

Il-festival ġie mxandar permezz ta’ paġna ta’ Facebook iddedikata għalih bejn l-20 u t-22 ta’ Marzu 2020 u pprovda spazju għall-artisti biex jaqsmu l-arti tagħhom u jġibu enerġija pożittiva lill-udjenzi li esperjenzawh.

Din kienet l-ewwel inizjattiva f’Malta li kellha l-għan li tappoġġa artisti freelance hekk kif laqtitna l-pandemija tal-Covid-19. L-organizzaturi tal-festival laħqu 'l fuq minn 60,000 telespettatur flimkien volum kbir ta’ attività relatata fuq il-midja soċjali f'ħames ijiem biss. Permezz tat-teknoloġija diġitali, il-festival ħoloq konnessjonijiet m’artisti f’Malta u f’pajjiżi oħra, u b’hekk inħoloq sens ta’ komunità, b’nies jarawh, jindikawh lil oħrajn, u jagħtu donazzjoni lill-artisti.

Għal din il-kisba, il-Lockdown Festival Malta ngħata l-Premju taċ-Ċittadin 2020 għal Malta. Il-premju jingħata mill-Parlament Ewropew għal kisbiet eċċezzjonali minn ċittadini fl-Istati Membri tal-UE. Jirrikonoxxi proġetti li jippromwovu fehim reċiproku aħjar u integrazzjoni aktar mill-qrib bejn iċ-ċittadini tal-Istati Membri, jew li jiffaċilitaw kooperazzjoni transnazzjonali fi ħdan l-Unjoni Ewropea.

Għall-ewwel darba fl-2020, il-Premju kien miftuħ għal nominazzjonijiet mill-pubbliku. Il-premju ilu jingħata mill-Parlament Ewropew fl-Istati Membri differenti mill-2008 u għandu valur simboliku, f'sura ta' plakka jew medalja ta' unur.

Ir-rebbieħa preċedenti tal-Premju f’Malta jinkludu l-Fondazzjoni ALS, l-Għaqda Każini tal-Banda, il-Fondazzjoni Richmond, Dar il-Kaptan, Hospice Malta, Puttinu Cares Children's Cancer Support Group, Caritas Malta, u Chris Delicata bħalha President tar-Reġjun Ewropew tal-Federazzjoni Internazzjonali tad-Dijabete (IDF Europe).



Thursday 18th February 2021 - Maltco Lotteries has proudly announced its commitment to help the community in preventing the spread of COVID-19 through the provision of 50,000 FREE 100ml Hand Sanitizers which will be distributed to players visiting its POS Network. Entitled “We are all in this, together”, this CSR promotion is being organised in collaboration with The BioArte company. 


During the press conference which was held on Thursday 18th February at Maltco’s Head Offices in Iklin, Maltco Lotteries CEO Vasileios Kasiotakis expressed his gratitude to The BioArte company for their generous offer. He also noted that the distribution of free Hand Sanitizers to all players of Maltco Lotteries during this difficult period, is in line with the company’s vision and highlights one of the key pillars of the company – CARE. 


“Maltco has been amongst the first organisations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, by supporting all the directives issued by the health authorities and has put into place copious measures aimed to ensure the safety of players, employees and its retailers commented Maltco Lotteries CEO Vasileios Kasiotakis. 


Each Maltco Agent will be allocated an equal fixed amount of free Hand Sanitizers which they will be able to distribute amongst their players. This initiative will commence on Wednesday 24th February and will remain active until stock lasts. 


Christian Duchow Chairman of The BioArte company and Dr. Manuele Biazzo CEO of BioArte, who have also addressed the media present said that the company is focusing all its activities to fight against COVID-19, to the benefit of all Maltese. Apart from this collaboration with the Maltese National Lottery Operator to locally distribute free sanitizers, the company has also embarked on an ambitious initiative to perform research projects in collaboration with prominent medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies in Italy. “Our expertise lies within molecular diagnostic and currently we are using our knowledge to detect Sars-CoV-2 lineages and to perform several research activities in order to identify the role that the human commensal microbial community is playing in COVID-19 disease’’.


The formula in these hand sanitizers is in accordance with recommendations set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Certified by the Maltese Health Authorities.


Customers benefitting from this promotion will be requested to fill in a form with their basic personal details prior to receiving their free hand sanitizer. Each customer will be eligible to collect one hand sanitiser.  Customer data will be withheld by the company for a limited time period and will be solely used to ascertain the validity of stock consumption. 


For more information you may email info@maltco.net, visit the company’s website, social media pages or call Maltco’s Helpline on 23883333.

MEPs urge EU countries to be transparent about their COVID-19 vaccine supplies


Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee calls for a fact-based approach to the EU vaccines rollout to avoid disinformation. 

In order to respond to European citizens’ growing concerns, data on the number of vaccine doses supplied and on the vaccination schedules for each country must be transparent and provided on a monthly basis until the summer, say MEPs of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI).

ENVI Chair Pascal Canfin (Renew, FR) said: “The European Parliament is asking for exhaustive data to be published every month on the number of vaccines allocated to each member state. Only once we have a clear picture, can we build trust, address challenges linked to delays in supply and the speed at which vaccines are being administered, and fight back the growing wave of uncertainty and disinformation in Europe.”

This information is currently not comprehensive enough, as evidenced by a compilation of existing national data provided by national governments. Only a limited number of countries have communicated their vaccination figures, MEPs stress.

Following requests from the ENVI committee, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), has launched its dashboard on the vaccination situation in member states. This overview should be complemented by additional elements, such as the projected delivery of vaccines, MEPs ask.



On 12 January 2021, MEPs quizzed the Commission on the latest developments regarding COVID-19 vaccines. During the last plenary debate in January, MEPs expressed broad support for the common EU approach to fighting the pandemic and called for complete transparency regarding contracts and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.


The EP press service is organising a webinar for media on "Vaccines - A united response to beat the COVID-19 virus", on 8 February, 09:45 – 10:45, with key MEPs to discuss the EU vaccine strategy. To register, email media-seminars@europarl.europa.eu.


On Wednesday 10 February, MEPs will debate in plenary the state of play of the EU’s vaccination strategy with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Trafficking in human beings: protect women and children and focus on sexual exploitation, say MEP


  • Asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants, especially women and unaccompanied minors, are the most vulnerable
  • Criminalise demand and use of victims' sexual services
  • COVID-19 has exacerbated root causes of trafficking in human beings


On Wednesday, MEPs proposed a series of measures aiming at preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and supporting, assisting and protecting its victims.

In an own initiative report adopted with 80 votes to 10 and 10 abstentions, MEPs of the Civil Liberties and Women’s Rights and Gender Equality committees call for a comprehensive, gender and victim-centered approach to trafficking, underlining the need for comparable and detailed data around its scale and trends in the EU.


Trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation

Sexual exploitation remains the most prevalent and reported form of trafficking in the EU. It disproportionately affects women and girls and reflects how trafficking for sexual exploitation is rooted in gender inequalities. The report calls on the Commission to amend the anti-trafficking directive to ensure that member states explicitly criminalise the “knowing use of services” provided by victims of trafficking.


Asylum and migration 

Asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants, especially women and unaccompanied minors, are vulnerable to trafficking. The text highlights the very low number of registered victims in international protection procedures and calls on the national authorities to ensure that anti-trafficking and asylum procedures are interconnected.


Further, the non-legislative resolution:

  • Notes that children constitute nearly a quarter of all victims, calling on Member states to ensure strong child protection measures;
  • Underlines the use of internet, social media and digital technologies to recruit victims of trafficking and calls on the Commission to address the use of online technologies in both the proliferation and the prevention of THB;
  • Calls on the Commission to publish a specific and dedicated EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings without further delay;
  • Warns that the situation of trafficked victims has worsened since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and that support services have encountered difficulties to assist them.



Co-rapporteur Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) said: "Ten years after the adoption of the anti-trafficking directive, we call on the Commission to revise it to improve the measures for the prevention and prosecution of all forms of trafficking and to explicitly criminalise the use of all services provided by victims of trafficking. The European Parliament urges EU countries to guarantee the identification of potential victims of trafficking in the context of migration flows and facilitate their access to the asylum procedures".


“The crime of trafficking is based on the abuse of the vulnerability of victims, mostly women and girls, sexually exploited in Europe. Demand for sexual services drives trafficking. We therefore demand a reform of the 2011 directive in order for member states to criminalise the use of those services, discouraging demand and preventing exploitation”, added co-rapporteur Maria Soraya Rodriguez Ramos (Renew, ES).


Next steps

Parliament as a whole will vote on the non-legislative resolution during the next plenary session (8-11 February).



The Civil Liberties and Gender Equality committees held a joint public hearing in October 2020 with institutional and civil society stakeholders on trafficking in human beings. The Commission reports regularly on the progress made in the fight against trafficking (reports available for 2016, 2018 and 2020). Trafficking in human beings is addressed both in the framework of the EU's Security Union Strategy and the proposed Pact on Migration and Asylum.

MEPs call for binding 2030 targets for materials use and consumption footprint


  • “Take-make-dispose” economy must come to an end 
  • Binding targets needed also for recycled content
  • EU policy on sustainable products should include non-energy-related products 


The EU needs clear policy objectives to achieve a carbon-neutral, environmentally sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050 at the latest, say MEPs.

On Wednesday, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted its report on the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan, with 66 votes in favour, 6 against and 7 abstentions.


Circular economy principles

MEPs emphasise that the current linear “take-make-dispose” economy must be transformed into a truly circular economy, based on a series of key principles such as preventing waste and reducing energy and resource use. Products should be designed in a way that reduces waste, harmful substances and pollution, and protects human health. The consumer benefits of a circular economy should be made clear, they say.


Binding targets and indicators

MEPs call for science-based binding 2030 EU targets for materials use and consumption footprint, covering the whole lifecycle of each product category placed on the EU market. To this end, they urge the Commission to introduce in 2021 harmonised, comparable and uniform circularity indicators for material and consumption footprints.

The Environment Committee also calls on the Commission to propose product-specific and/or sector-specific binding targets for recycled content, while ensuring the performance and safety of the products concerned and that they are designed to be recycled.


Sustainable product policy 

MEPs strongly endorse the Commission’s intention to broaden the scope of the Ecodesign Directiveto include non-energy-related products. They insist that new legislation should be put forward in 2021. This should set horizontal sustainability principles and product-specific standards so that products placed on the EU market perform well, are durable, reusable, can be easily repaired, are not toxic, can be upgraded and recycled, contain recycled content, and are resource- and energy-efficient.

Other key proposals by MEPs include:

  • introducing measures against greenwashing and false environmental claims, as well as legislative measures to stop practices that result in planned obsolescence;
  • championing the EU Ecolabel as a benchmark for environmental sustainability;
  • strengthening the role of Green Public Procurement by establishing minimum mandatory criteria and targets;
  • mainstreaming circular economy principles into member states’ national recovery plans.



Rapporteur Jan Huitema (Renew Europe, NL) said: “The transition to a circular economy is an economic opportunity for Europe that we should embrace. Europe is not a resource-rich continent, but we have the skills, the expertise and the ability to innovate and develop the technologies needed to close loops and build a waste-free society. This will create jobs and economic growth and bring us closer to reaching our climate goals: It’s a win-win.” Watch video statement.


Next steps

The report will be put to the vote during the February plenary sitting.



In March 2020, the Commission adopted a new “Circular Economy Action Plan for a Cleaner and More Competitive Europe”. A debate in the Environment Committee took place in October.

Up to 80% of products’ environmental impact is determined at the design phase. The global consumption of materials is expected to double in the next forty years, while the amount of waste generated every year is projected to increase by 70% by 2050. Half of total greenhouse gas emissions, and more than 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress, come from extracting and processing resources.


Deborah Schembri, Managing Director,

STM Malta Pension Services Limited.

New name for STM Malta supports growth strategy


A Malta-based international pensions company has changed its name as part of a strategy to support growth in the personal and occupational pensions markets.


STM Malta Trust and Company Management Limited – which employs more than 50 staff at its offices in Birkirkara’s Central Business District – has changed its name to STM Malta Pension Services Limited. It’s one of Malta’s biggest pension trustees and administrators with clients from over 100 countries, and administers over 8,000 personal pensions plus approximately £1.5billion of client assets. The new name aligns the business more closely to the company’s growth strategy, customer focused product offerings, and industry trends.


Deborah Schembri, Managing Director, STM Malta Pension Services Limited – who won the 2020 Malta Businesswoman of the Year Award – commented: “Our new name is an important element in our growth strategy and future success. It’s the first impression that customers have of our brand so, because the business has evolved over the years, we needed to realign our name so that if reflects the fact that we’re now a leading global provider of pension schemes. In addition, it enhances our identity, and gives us the exposure we need to communicate more effectively with existing and potential customers. As STM Malta Pension Services Limited we are now better positioned to reach a wider-spectrum of both national and international potential customers, and existing pensioners.”


The growth strategy is based on 5 key strengths: Superior customer service, strong knowledge base and financial resources, people development, up-to-date organisational operations, and strategic partnerships.


STM Malta Pension Services Limited remains part of STM Group Plc, a multi-jurisdictional financial services group listed on the AIM of the London Stock Exchange. STM opened its Malta office in 2010 to help facilitate the growth of the Group pensions division.

Additional and more flexible funding to help those most in need


  • Number of people at risk of poverty increasing
  • Additional funds for food and basic needs available in 2021 and 2022
  • No co-financing by member states needed


Parliament voted today to continue making additional resources available in 2021 and 2022 in order to provide food and basic assistance to the most deprived.


With 649 votes in favour, 7 against and 31 abstentions, Parliament approved the agreement to adapt the FEAD regulation that was reached with the member states in December last year.


The adapted regulation allows member states to continue to use the additional funds made available for post-COVID-19 recovery under the REACT-EU initiative in 2021 and 2022. Member states can choose to increase the resources provided in the FEAD regulation for food aid and other basic assistance for those most in need. In order to alleviate the current burden on public budgets, the additional resources will not be co-financed by member states and the Commission will provide pre-financing to further expedite delivery.


“This pandemic has had far-reaching consequences on people’s quality of life, especially on those who were vulnerable to begin with. More than 20% of all Europeans have seen their situation deteriorate. This fund will be the instrument to support them in finding their way out of poverty and back into society”, says rapporteur Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová on the agreement.


Next steps

The Council must also approve the text formally. Once it has done so, the adopted measures will enter into force after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.



The 3.8 billion EUR Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) was introduced in 2014 as an EU action to alleviate the worst forms of poverty and foster social cohesion in Europe. Around 13 million people benefit from the Fund each year, including approximately four million children. The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences have exacerbated the situation of more than 20% of the EU population who are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, deepened social divisions, and increased job losses, unemployment rates and inequalities.

COVID-19 vaccines: EU must respond with unity and solidarity


MEPs expressed broad support for the common EU approach to fighting the pandemic and called for complete transparency regarding contracts and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.

In the plenary debate on Tuesday, MEPs exchanged views with Ana Paula Zacarias, Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.


A large majority of MEPs showed their support for the united EU approach, which ensured vaccines are being developed quickly and secured access to vaccines for all European citizens. At the same time, they deplored “health nationalism”, including alleged parallel contracts signed by member states or attempts to out-compete each other. In order to uphold the European success story, the EU must respond with unity and solidarity, with all levels of government working together, say MEPs.


Members called for the terms of contracts between the EU and pharmaceutical companies involving public money to be completely transparent. Recent efforts by the Commission, to allow MEPs to consult one incomplete contract, were deemed insufficient. MEPs reiterated that only complete transparency could help combat disinformation and build trust in the vaccination campaigns across Europe.


Speakers also acknowledged the global dimension of the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires global solutions. The EU has a responsibility to use its position of strength to support its most vulnerable neighbours and partners. The pandemic can be overcome only once all people have equal access to vaccines, not only in rich countries, MEPs added.


The debate also touched upon other issues, such as the need for comparable national data and mutual recognition of vaccinations, the need to avoid delays and increase the speed of vaccination, as well as the unconstructive nature of blaming the EU or the pharmaceutical industry for any failures.


Watch the video recording of the debate here. Click on the names below for individual statements.

Ana Paula Zacarias, Portuguese Presidency

Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety

Esther de Lange, EPP, NL

Iratxe García Pérez, S&D, ES

Dacian Cioloş, Renew Europe, RO

Joëlle Mélin, ID, FR

Philippe Lamberts, Greens/EFA, BE

Joanna Kopcińska, ECR, PL

Marc Botenga, The Left, BE



The Commission is expected to publish today an additional communication on the EU’s COVID-19 strategy. EU leaders will debate the pandemic state of play during the European Council meeting on 21 January.



On 22 September 2020, Parliament held a public hearing on “How to secure access to COVID-19 vaccines for EU citizens: clinical trials, production and distribution challenges”. During the December 2020 Plenary session, Parliament expressed support for the speedy authorisation of safe vaccinesand on 12 January 2021, MEPs blamed a lack of transparency for fueling uncertainty and disinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccination in Europe.

Public hearing on link between biodiversity loss and pandemics such as COVID-19


The Parliament hearing on “Facing the sixth mass extinction and increasing risk of pandemics: what role for the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030” will be held on Thursday.

Organised by the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the hearing will address the loss of biodiversity and the extent to which this increases the risk of pandemics due to change in land use, climate change and wildlife trade. The role that the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 could play in countering biodiversity loss and in increasing the EU’s and the global commitment to biodiversity will be discussed.


Dr Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and Dr Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, will open the public hearing.


The detailed programme is available here.


You can follow the hearing live here from 9.00 on Thursday 14 January.


EU biodiversity strategy for 2030


On Thursday afternoon, Members will discuss the draft report by rapporteur César Luena (S&D, ES) which responds to the Commission's Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and welcomes the level of ambition in the strategy. The draft report underlines that all main direct drivers of change in nature must be addressed and expresses concern about soil degradation, the impact of climate change and the declining number of pollinators. It also addresses the issues of funding, mainstreaming and the governance framework for biodiversity, calls for a Green Erasmus programme focused on restoration and conservation, and emphasises the need for international action, including with regard to ocean governance.


You can follow the committee meeting live here from 13.15 on Thursday 14 January.

COVID-19 vaccines: MEPs call for more clarity and transparency


Lack of transparency has recently fuelled uncertainty and disinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccination in Europe, say MEPs. 

On Tuesday, members of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety quizzed Sandra Gallina, the EU’s lead negotiator on COVID-19 vaccine contracts, on the latest developments regarding contracts, transparency, authorisations, availability and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.

MEPs underlined the need for more clarity and transparency regarding vaccine contracts, as well as the decision-making process at EU level. They welcomed the European Commission’s openness to share available information whilst also acknowledging that some questions can be better answered by member states and pharmaceutical companies.

Many questions concerned possible additional national or bilateral contracts. The Commission confirmed that it is not aware of any such alleged contracts. Through the Joint Procurement Agreement, the EU has priority to deliver vaccines, which will then be distributed to member states on a pro-rata basis.

Following requests from MEPs, the Commission provided information regarding a number of other specific issues:

  • A reading room is open for MEPs wishing to review vaccine contracts - one contract is currently available (CureVac), with others released pending the agreement of pharmaceutical companies;
  • The European Medicines Agency received the application for the AstraZeneca vaccine today - the conditional market authorisation is expected at the end of January;
  • The largest quantities of vaccines are expected during the second quarter of 2021, as already agreed in the existing contracts - specific strategies for deployment, including priority groups for vaccination, are set up by each member state;
  • As of next week, a dedicated platform will be available where member states can report, twice a week, the number of vaccines received and used.


Watch the recording of the debate



In June 2020, the Commission proposed an EU vaccines strategy for COVID-19 in which it listed key steps for effective vaccination strategies and vaccine deployment. Any vaccine must be authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in accordance with safety and efficacy standards.

On 22 September 2020, Parliament held a public hearing on “How to secure access to COVID-19 vaccines for EU citizens: clinical trials, production and distribution challenges”.

At the Plenary session in December 2020, Parliament expressed support for the speedy authorisation of safe vaccines. The Commission has since given conditional marketing authorisation for two COVID-19 vaccines, one developed by BioNTech and Pfizer and one by Moderna Biotech Spain, S.L., after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded its assessments of these vaccines.

Travelling to and from the UK – Update Monday 21st December 2020 8pm


Air Malta’s flights to and from the United Kingdom will remain operational. However customers should note the following:

Travelling to the UK

Passengers travelling to the UK are required to self-isolate for 10 days upon entry into the country. They may be released from quarantine, if a test taken in line with the Test-To-Release Scheme after 5 days is negative.


Travelling to Malta

Maltese nationals and persons holding a valid residence permit in Malta are allowed to travel. Non-Maltese nationals and non-residence permit holders who are travelling for essential reasons are kindly requested to obtain an authorisation from the Superintendent for Public Health by sending an email to covid19.vetting@gov.mt. All persons will be requested to present a negative PCR test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to arrival in Malta. They will also be subject to testing on arrival and 14 days of mandatory quarantine, with a repeat PCR test required on day 5-7 of quarantine.

Air Malta’s call centre can be contacted on +356 21662211.

Digital Europe programme: MEPs strike deal with Council


  • €7.6 billion funding for 2021-2027
  • €2.2 billion for supercomputing, €2 billion for artificial intelligence projects
  • Programme will finance training of workers


Plans for the EU to deploy digital technologies like AI, supercomputing and data platforms more widely were informally agreed with Council on Monday.

The programme will fund the increase in the capacity of European supercomputing and data processing (€2.2billion), and make supercomputing more accessible and user-friendly in public health especially in health, the environment, security and industry, and in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).


It will strengthen and support artificial intelligence testing and experimentation in health and mobility sectors, and encourage member states to cooperate in this area, with the aim of setting up a European data space. Businesses and public administrations will also be able to use artificial intelligence more (€2 billion).


€1.6 billion are also dedicated to cybersecurity, to strengthen coordination between member states, boost Europe’s capabilities and support the deployment of cyber-security technology, infrastructure and competence across the economy, through initiatives such as the EU cybersecurity competence centre and network. The programme will also help support the existing workforce to train in order to have the skills needed.



Valter Flego (RE, HR), Rapporteur for the Digital Europe Programme said: “I am convinced that the deal we have sealed on the Digital Europe Programme (DEP) will serve to achieve one of the main EU priorities for the upcoming decade – assure a new generation of digital technologies. Although the Programme was not topped up in the final MFF agreement, it remains the most important tool to reach our goal of asserting Europe’s digital sovereignty. With DEP as one of the EU’s flagship programmes, Europe will be ready to speed up its digital transformation and become a global leader in the digital field.”


Next steps

The informal agreement will be confirmed in a forthcoming meeting of the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee.



The Digital Europe Programme aims to build the EU’s strategic digital capacity and deploy digital technologies more widely, so that they can be used by Europe’s citizens, businesses and public administrations. More investments will be made in supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, advanced digital skills, and ensure a wide use of digital capacity across the economy and society. Its goal is to boost Europe’s competitiveness and the green transition towards climate neutrality by 2050 as well as ensure technological sovereignty.

EU regions get additional 47.5 billion EUR to tackle local effects of COVID-19


  • Funds will support projects as of 1 February 2020 and until the end of 2023
  • REACT-EU resources made available through EU Structural Funds
  • Strong focus on those hit hardest by the crisis


MEPs approved extra aid for EU regions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and health care consequences.

Parliament has approved REACT-EU, a 47.5 billion EUR package to help mitigate the immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis across EU regions. The initiative was adopted by 654 votes in favour, 23 against and 17 abstentions.


The aid will be made available through the EU Structural Funds, with 37.5 billion EUR assigned for 2021 and 10 billion EUR for 2022. Operations covered by REACT-EU will be eligible for funding from 1 February 2020, retroactively. The resources can be spent until the end of 2023.


EU countries will be able to allocate part of the money to the European Social Fund, the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), the Youth Employment Initiative, as well as cross-border programmes (Interreg). Investments will be focused on the sectors most affected by the economic fallout of the pandemic.


Details on the political agreement reached by EU legislators on 18 November are available here.



REACT-EU is a European Commission proposal to address the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the form of an amendment to the Common Provisions Regulation, which governs the 2014-2020 cohesion policy programming period.


It follows two earlier proposals relating to cohesion policy: the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) and the Coronavirus Response Initiative Plus (CRII+), which both modified the rules for regional spending in order to facilitate recovery. Resources for REACT-EU will come from Next Generation EU, the European Union recovery instrument.

Belarussian democratic opposition receives 2020 Sakharov Prize


The 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was received by the Coordination Council, an initiative of brave women, and political and civil society figures.

During the ceremony, exceptionally held in Brussels, President Sassoli said: “The whole world is aware of what is happening in your country. We see your courage. We can see the courage of women. We see your suffering. We see the unspeakable abuses. We see the violence. Your aspiration and determination to live in a democratic country inspires us.”


“I would like to pay special tribute to our laureates and the strength that you displayed,” he added.


Accepting the prize, the main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said: “Each and every Belarusian who takes part in the peaceful protest against violence and lawlessness...is a hero. Each of them is an example of courage, compassion, and dignity.”


“Belarusians have been marching every week since the 9 August election. They march for their future and the future of those who cannot be there. They march for the freedom and dignity of Belarusians, of Europeans, yours and ours. Without free Belarus, Europe is not fully free either. (...) I have only one wish this year. I want every Belarusian who is now in jail or was forced to live in exile to return home,”


About the winner
The winner was chosen by Parliament’s political leaders on 22 October 2020.


The democratic opposition in Belarus is represented by the Coordination Council, initiative of brave women. They are main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich, musician and political activist Maryia Kalesnikava, and political activists Volha Kavalkova and Veranika Tsapkala. The political and civil society figures are video blogger and political prisoner Siarhei Tsikhanouski, founder of the Belarusian human rights organisation ‘Viasna’ Ales Bialiatski , Siarhei Dyleuski, founder of the Telegram channel NEXTA Stsiapan Putsila, and political prisoner and presidential candidate in the 2010 election Mikola Statkevich.


In a resolution adopted in September 2020, the European Parliament condemned the Belarusian authorities for their violent repression of peaceful protests.


Parliament is organising a fact-finding mission about Belarus 18- 21 December to determine whether further support is needed for the democratic opposition, in line with a resolution voted on 26 November 2020.


Award ceremony

The prize consists of a certificate and €50,000.


The finalists

The Guapinol environmental activists Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, José Avelino Cedillo, Orbin Naún Hernández, Kevin Alejandro Romero, Arnold Javier Aleman, Ever Alexander Cedillo, Daniel Marquez and Jeremías Martínez Díaz, and Berta Cáceres from Honduras and Monsignor Najeeb Michaeel, Archbishop of Mosul, were this year’s finalists.


Find out more about the other finalists.


More about the Sakharov Prize

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named in honour of the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded annually since 1988 to individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Last year, the prize went to Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority.


Find out how the Sakharov Prize laureate is chosen in our infographic.

Rule of Law mechanism applies without further delay as of 1 January, MEPs stress


  • European Council political declarations on Rule of Law Mechanism are “superfluous” as they are not legally binding
  • Package including long-term EU budget, recovery and Rule of Law conditionality is of “historic importance”
  • Unanimity rule in Council is outdated and counterproductive


In a resolution to wrap up Wednesday’s debate on the MFF package, MEPs challenge the EU summit declaration to suspend the Rule of Law mechanism pending ECJ approval.

A resolution on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the Interinstitutional Agreement, the EU Recovery Instrument and the Rule of Law Regulation was adopted in a vote on Wednesday night with 496 votes in favour, 134 against and 65 abstentions.


Parliament welcomes the political agreements on the long-term budgetary package, which includes the new Rule of Law mechanism, and recalls its “historic importance”.


Rule of Law conditionality must fully apply from 1 January

However, the 11 December European Council conclusions, which say that the Commission should not apply the Rule of Law mechanism until the European Court of Justice has made a decision on whether to annul the instrument, are “superfluous”. The agreement between EP and Council clearly states that it will apply from 1 January, MEPs emphasise.


According to EU treaties, the European Council “shall not exercise legislative functions”. MEPs therefore consider “that any political declaration of the European Council cannot be deemed to represent an interpretation of legislation”. The Commission is “completely independent” and the Council conclusions “cannot be made binding on the Commission in applying legal acts”, MEPs add.


Unnecessary delays for EU financing package due to unanimity rule


Parliament strongly regrets that the requirement to have unanimity in Council has unduly delayed the adoption of the MFF and own resources decision, among others. The upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe should work on overcoming these hurdles.

COVID-19 vaccines: Parliament supports speedy authorisation of safe vaccines


  • Final EU green light for first COVID-19 vaccine expected 23 December
  • A thorough authorisation process needed to create trust in vaccines
  • EU supports vaccination efforts in developing countries


An EU strategy for COVID-19 vaccinations, that addresses challenges inside and outside the EU, was debated on Wednesday with Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.

Vice-President Schinas presented the Commission’s COVID-19 strategy, which is based on the principles of equal access, affordability and safety. He referred to the statement in Plenary earlier today by the President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who said that the Commission is ready to formally authorise the first vaccine on 23 December, if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gives the green light to the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine earlier on 21 December, as announcedyesterday. This approach will allow all 27 EU member states to start vaccinating at the same time.


Many MEPs applauded the EU approach to COVID-19 vaccines and underlined that while authorisation should be given as fast as possible, safety is of utmost importance to create trust in the vaccines. A very thorough and independent authorisation process, like the one being used in the EU, is therefore essential. In this context, MEPs also deplored the disinformation about these vaccines that is circulating on social networks.


Several MEPs reiterated that the process of approving and negotiating access to COVID-19 vaccines must be transparent. They asked when Parliament would have access to the contracts with the producers of vaccines. VP Schinas recognised the need for transparency but said the Commission is bound by confidentiality clauses, including on prices. The Commission is currently negotiating with these companies to be able to share the content of the contracts more widely.


Global approach to vaccination needed

Vice-President Schinas said that the EU has bought more than enough doses for everyone in Europe and will be able finance one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses for less developed non-EU countries through COVAX, so that no one is left behind, and because no one is safe until everyone is safe.


Several MEPs welcomed the EU’s rejection of vaccine “nationalism” as the virus does not respect borders. The approach to vaccinations must be global, they said, and repeated that the EU has a leading role to play in facilitating equal access to vaccines across the world as stated in Parliament’s resolution of 25 November.


Some MEPs raised the issue of intellectual property rights of COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines should be a global public good, they said, available for all citizens in the world.


You can watch a recording of the debate here.



Developing and deploying an effective and safe vaccine worldwide is likely to be the only way to end the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, the Commission has proposed an EU vaccines strategy for COVID-19 and listed key steps for effective vaccination strategies and vaccine deployment.


The Commission has also entered into advance purchase agreements with several pharmaceutical laboratories in order to create a portfolio of potential vaccines against COVID-19. Any vaccine must be authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in accordance with safety and efficacy standards. The EMA has recently received two applications for conditional marketing authorisation for two COVID-19 vaccines and is expected to conclude its assessments of the first one 21 December.


On 22 September, Parliament organised a public hearing on “How to secure access to COVID-19 vaccines for EU citizens: clinical trials, production and distribution challenges”.




Maltco Lotteries Ltd. participated as a main sponsor of the 5th edition of Malta’s Best Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and Malta’s Best-in-Business Awards. These Awards are getting more and more competitive as the industry keeps raising its bar every single year. Recognising writers and ambassadors, the Awards showcase the talent found throughout every aspect of the Maltese business world. 

As a leading company in Malta, it is very important and significant for Maltco Lotteries to participate in such events. The company truly believes in rewarding well established companies to showcase and recognise the continuous achievements of Maltese businesses.   Maltco presented a total of eight awards throughout the ceremony of which four were presented in the Best Entrepreneur of the Year Awards & another four were presented in the Malta’s Best-in-Business Awards 2020.

Considered to be the most prestigious honour awarded during the event, the MALTCO Lotteries Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by Maltco’ CEO Vasileios Kasiotakis to­­­­­­­­­ Roseanne Camilleri, CEO of Primary Healthcare.  The latter has been also presented with the Chairman Value Award.

MALTCO Lotteries Award for Excellence was presented by Vasileios Kasiotakis and was given to ­­­­­­­­­­ Edward Borg Grech, CEO Bluefort Ltd.

Maltco’s CEO also presented the Malta Best Entrepreneur of the Year award, which was won by Joseph Portelli CEO of J Portelli Projects.

The most prestigious honour of the Best in Business category was the MALTCO Lotteries Overall Best Company of the Year Award which was presented by Maltco’s HR Director Franco Blanco and was given to Finductive.

The MALTCO Lotteries Best in Business Award for Excellence was also presented by Franco Blanco and was given to PMQS.

Maltco Lotteries’ HR Director also presented the Malta’s Best Gaming Company of the Year award 2020   and the Best in Business Charman’s Value Award which were won by Betconstruct and 4JM Solutions Ltd, respectively.

Vasileios Kasiotakis CEO of Maltco Lotteries Limited stated, that the company focuses its business strategy on its mission therefore to develop and provide entertainment to Maltese Players in a Responsible way. Maltco’s CEO commented on the actions taken towards corporate social responsibility to support the Maltese community. “We focus on creating value proposition to all of our stakeholders through the implementation of an effective strategy which is based on our company values: Care, Drive, Trust & Imagination,” concluded Vasileios Kasiotakis.

Malta’s Best Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and Malta’s Best-in-Business Awards took place on Friday 11th December at the InterContinental Hotel.

For more information you may email info@maltco.net, visit the company’s website, social media pages or call Maltco’s Helpline on 23883333.



Maltco Lotteries showed its appreciation towards local talent and awarded the winners from the SportMalta Awards - Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali by means of financial support.  This has been the 8th consecutive year for the National Lottery operator to support this initiative. The local athletes have been awarded with their respective title back in February for their 2019 achievements during the SportMalta Awards Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali event which was organised by SportMalta together with the Malta Sports Journalists Association.

Maltco Lotteries has been supporting this event for the past years, as affirmed Maltco Lotteries CEO, Vasileios Kasiotakis. “Apart from being one of the main sponsors of the yearly SportMalta Awards event, Maltco also provides the winners with a financial support as an encouragement and incentive to pursue further in their sports career” 

The President of the Malta Sports Journalists Association, Sandro Micallef thanked Maltco Lotteries for their continuous support not only towards the SportMalta Awards - Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali but also for their ongoing and unparalleled support for the developing of Sport in Malta. 

This year’s event was a special edition since it coincided also with the 60th anniversary since the first edition of the Sportiv tas-Sena which was organised way back in 1960 and also the 50th Anniversary since the foundation of the Għaqda Kittieba Sports back in 1970.

The following are the winners who benefitted from this year’s Maltco Lotteries’ prize money:

Lisa Marie Bezzina – Sportswoman of the Year - Athletics

Jordan Gusman – Sportsman of the Year - Athletics

Jake Muscat – Male Youth of the Year – Water polo

Maya Azzopardi – Female Youth of the Year - Swimming

Joe Caruana Curran – Official of the Year – President of the Aquatic Sports Association

Karl Izzo – Coach of the Year – Water polo National Coach

Elusive II - Team of the Year – Sailing 

Maltco Lotteries congratulates all the winners for their hard work and dedication and whilst wishing them best of luck, determination and success in furthering their career as a local leading athlete, encourages more athletes to invest in their sports career. 

For more information you may email info@maltco.net , visit the company’s website, social media pages or call Maltco’s Helpline on 23883333.




Maltco Lotteries, a modern and dynamic company established in 2003, holds the latest Licence and Concession to operate the National Lottery of Malta awarded in 2012. Maltco Lotteries provides high-quality, innovative, and entertaining games (including lotteries, sports-betting, fast games and instant games) under the auspices of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). 

The company’s POS network offers a friendly, secure and entertaining gaming environment, in which players can enjoy their favourite games, assisted by the highly-trained Maltco Lotteries Agents’ client service. 

Maltco Lotteries has leveraged INTRALOT’s innovative technology and advanced services, ensuring security, trustworthiness, transparency, and a superior gaming experience. Certified under the Responsible Gaming, ISO/IEC 27001:2013, and Security Control (WLA SCS) standards by the European Lotteries and the World Lottery Association, Maltco Lotteries provides a responsible and secure retail network, the largest one in Malta and Gozo, maintaining the leading position in the market. Maltco Lotteries has an exceptional Corporate Social Responsibility track record, consistently supporting the Governmental Good Causes Fund and numerous Maltese charitable causes, as well as sponsoring local sports and athletes, contributing to Malta’s culture and community well-being.


Are you a self-driven individual? Do you dream of doing what you love? Is being passionate about what you do more important to you than getting any job? 
If the answer is yes to all of the above, the chances are you already are or have the potential to become an entrepreneur. 

Give yourself a headstart and feel equipped about meeting these challenges, in particular in a small EU Member State, in this short course organised by EPLO Valletta and Junior Chamber Malta, may be the right thing for you. Running over a span of four weeks, experts in the various fields will focus on how EU laws affect enterprise, directly or indirectly, and how businesses and SMEs can influence policy on a European level.  You will also be introduced to the opportunities  of funding, training and support that the EU offers.

Book your place by registering on: https://www.facebook.com/events/1250706528637011

Lectures will run between the 25th November 2020 until the 16th December between 17:00 and 18:00.

Parallels renews the status of “Gold Partner” of ICT Faculty of the University of Malta


Malta, November 20, 2020. Parallels, an international IT-company, part of Corel Corporation, a global leader in cross-platform solutions, renewed the Gold Partner status of the Faculty of Information & Communication Technology (FICT) of the University of Malta. The Company continues its support of students and research workers of FICT through the provision of modern IT tools.

During an open online meeting Senior Vice-President of Parallels Mr. Nick Dobrovolskiy, Parallels Director of Academic Programs Anton Diaikin, University of Malta alumni Parallels Team Leader Ian Sant and other company leaders met with Professor Carl James Debono, Dean of the Faculty of ICT, faculty officials and students.

Parallels donated 100 software set licenses to the University of Malta (with total price of €13 193) for the use of key Parallels products: Parallels Desktop for Mac, Parallels Access and Parallels Toolbox. These products will be freely used by staff and students for the purposes of study and to fulfil different tasks within so called “knowledge work and activities”. Long-term partnership and possibilities of mutual cooperation were also discussed.

“Parallels has been investing for many years into education of young bright developers at the universities, because we believe that the team with talented young sharp minds opens the gates to incredible achievements. We contribute to high quality education in several countries, including Malta, to secure the constant rise of expertise level of young IT-specialists. We appreciate the high level of education at the Faculty of Information & Communication Technology. Parallels will continue to support the faculty going forward.” – Nick Dobrovolskiy, Senior Vice-President of Parallels.

 "The Faculty of ICT strongly believes in collaborating with industry to provide the best education to our students. We are committed to excellence in our teaching and research and this needs the use of modern tools that are not always easily accessible to universities. Such donations provide much needed tools to our students. On behalf of the Faculty, I would like thank Parallels for their support and investment in our students." – Carl Debono, Dean, Faculty of ICT.

About Parallels

Parallels Inc., a global leader in cross-platform solutions, makes it simple for customers to use and access the applications and files they need on any device or operating system. We help businesses and individuals securely and productively use their favorite devices and preferred technology, whether it’s Windows®, Mac®, iOS, AndroidTM, Chromebook, Linux or the Cloud. Parallels solutions enable seamless delivery of virtual desktops and applications to any device, running Windows on a Mac, Mac management with Microsoft SCCM, and remote access to PCs and Mac computers from any device.

Recently, Parallels became part of the Corel Corporation and joins an impressive collection of industry leading brands, including CorelDRAW, WinZip, ClearSlide, and MindManager. 

Meet Parallels on Facebook at www.facebook.com/parallelsinc, follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/parallelsmac and visit the blog at http://blog.parallels.com.



CEO Vasileios Kasiotakis shares Maltco’s experience during the annual Malta Chamber of SMEs Conference, on how the National Lottery operator used this crisis to achieve key milestones which will position the company for the future. 


The Malta Chamber of SMEs held its annual conference on Wednesday 18th November entitled “Acknowledging, Adapting, Looking Ahead”.


Maltco Lotteries CEO Vasileios Kasiotakis along with local entrepreneurs Gianni Zammit, Matthew Bezzina and Jonathan Pace joined the panel discussion “Taking an active role in fighting the impact of COVID-19” in a joint virtual-physical event.   


During the discussion, Maltco’s CEO talked up about how the company used this unparalleled moment in history by turning challenges into opportunities. 


“Our top priority was to protect our people and therefore the immediate reaction was to close our retail network.  However, as the National Lottery operator we have a responsibility towards the government and our agents who did not have any other incoming revenues so initially we had postponed the closure of the shops with a few days”. 


The National Lottery operator has been amongst the first organisations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, by supporting all the directives issued by the health authorities and has put into place copious measures aimed to ensure the safety of players, employees and its retailers. The company had announced the suspension of its nationwide retail network on the 18th March and resumed with its operation after a forty-seven day-long shutdown. 


Maltco’s CEO commented about the constant support which has been provided to help retailers adapt amid this pandemic, whilst the company has progressed in its mission to raise higher the gaming experience of its players beyond coronavirus. “We have supported our retailers in order to ensure that they will receive their COVID wage supplement whilst we were working around the clock to strategise our business model and launch an online platform for our lottery products.  Furthermore, we have supported our sports betting products with the implementation of a number of additional product extensions and features. As we have accelerated innovation and the digitisation of our business, we have not only protected our business but also defined a new future of growth and success for all our stakeholders.


Mr. Kasiotakis stated that through the implementation of iLottery, the company is now offering a seamless digital customer experience whilst Maltco’s retailers are already receiving a commission based on their retail sales. Thus, creating something which is unique and mutually beneficial to players and partners at the same time” conveyed Mr. Kasiotakis. 


Maltco’s CEO concluded that he is certain that as responsible citizens but also as employers, employees and entrepreneurs, the community will overcome this unfolding crisis – TOGETHER. As a company, Maltco projects a positive future with endless opportunities following to the achievement of several exciting launches and key milestones which have positioned the company for the future.


For more information you may email info@maltco.net , visit the company’s website, social media pages or call Maltco’s Helpline on 23883333.


The MALTCO team at Malta’s Gaming Excellence Awards 2020



The fifth edition of Malta’s Excellence Gaming Awards took place on Friday night, 13th November at the Intercontinental Hotel. Maltco Lotteries has been awarded with five prestigious awards for “Best Industry’s Contributor”, “Best CSR Contributor” “Best Workplace in Malta” and “Best CEO of the Year”. Furthermore, the Gaming industry panel of jurors the selected and presented the most prestigious award of the MiGEA  event  - “Lifetime Achievement Award” to Maltco’s CEO for his longstanding and continuous contribution to the gaming industry .

Maltco Lotteries’ CEO Mr. Vasileios Kasiotakis exclaimed that he was emotional, overjoyed and most appreciative about the recognition of the work performed by Maltco’s Teams that resulted in winning the five Awards. “I feel honoured that Maltco’s continuous care for its Agents, its Employees and the Maltese Players has been distinguished with these prominent Gaming Awards. Our Team’s drive, imaginative work and commitment towards our industry has been recognised by Gaming Industry professionals. This is a great achievement for the company and for our talented team.” 

Mr. Kasiotakis concluded “for the past 16 years, Maltco Lotteries has been continuously striving to be at the leading position, both as an employer and through its way of operating, serving and entertaining. Our actions are built the company’s core values which are Care, Drive, Trust and Imagination!”

The company endeavors to put players first by offering best in class service and products within a responsible, transparent, accountable, and secure gaming environment. 

Mr. David Antony Gatt, Maltco’s CCO was delighted with the five awards and commented that “Maltco is proud to continue its Retail Transformation whilst also elevating the experience of its players to a digital one. It has leveraged INTRALOT’s innovative technology and advanced services, ensuring security, trustworthiness, transparency, and a superior gaming experience. Over the years, the company has introduced many different gaming verticals to its portfolio with the latest addition being the launch of Maltco’s iLottery.” 

Ms Caroline Attard, Maltco’s Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications was thrilled and added that “the new Maltco iLottery platform, offers a convenient channel for local players to play Malta’s favourite games online. The company has an exceptional Corporate Social Responsibility track record whereby it is consistently contributing to Malta’s society, culture and community’s well-being”.

For more information you may email info@maltco.net, visit the company’s website, social media pages or call Maltco’s Helpline on 23883333.



Maltco Lotteries, a modern and dynamic company established in 2003, holds the latest Licence and Concession to operate the National Lottery of Malta awarded in 2012. Maltco Lotteries provides high-quality, innovative, and entertaining games (including lotteries, sports-betting, fast games and instant games) under the auspices of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). 

The company’s POS network offers a friendly, secure and entertaining gaming environment, in which players can enjoy their favourite games, assisted by the highly-trained Maltco Lotteries Agents’ client service. 

Maltco Lotteries has leveraged INTRALOT’s innovative technology and advanced services, ensuring security, trustworthiness, transparency, and a superior gaming experience. Certified under the Responsible Gaming, ISO/IEC 27001:2013, and Security Control (WLA SCS) standards by the European Lotteries and the World Lottery Association, Maltco Lotteries provides a responsible and secure retail network, the largest one in Malta and Gozo, maintaining the leading position in the market. Maltco Lotteries has an exceptional Corporate Social Responsibility track record, consistently supporting the Governmental Good Causes Fund and numerous Maltese charitable causes, as well as sponsoring local sports and athletes, contributing to Malta’s culture and community well-being.


Air Malta Operates its First Flight to Berlin Brandenburg Airport


Air Malta has yesterday operated its first flight to Berlin Brandenburg ‘Willy Brandt’, the city’s newest airport. Named after former German Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt, the city’s long-awaited Airport (BER) has finally opened its doors and started welcoming airlines and passengers last week. The airport, just south of the German capital in the state of Brandenburg, has replaced Tegel, (to which Air Malta used to operate) as well as Tempelhof and Schönefeld airports. Berlin Brandenburg is well connected to the city centre with regional trains running approximately every 15 minutes between Berlin Central Station and BER. Travel time is approximately 30 minutes. The airport is set to become the third busiest airport in Germany surpassing Düsseldorf Airport and making it one of the fifteen busiest in Europe. Malta’s Ambassador to Germany, Dr Vanni Xuereb, travelled on Air Malta inaugural flight yesterday. He, together with Air Malta officials and the aircraft crew headed by Cpt Lino Busuttil and Cpt Chris Muscat, were welcomed upon arrival by Airport representatives. This winter Air Malta is operating a twice weekly flight schedule every Wednesday and Sunday to and from the airport’s Terminal 1. Berlin is one of the ‘Business Guaranteed’ routes whereby the Airline is assuring that it will continue operating to this winter despite these uncertain and testing times. For more information visit www.airmalta.com .




Maltco Lotteries Ltd. is honoured to announce, its participation as a main sponsor of the 5th edition of Malta’s Gaming Excellence Awards 2020®. The Awards are fast growing and have become one of the most prestigious and sought-after events in the gaming industry, showcasing the talent found throughout every aspect of the gaming world.  

As the leading player within the local land based gaming industry, Maltco Lotteries’ participation in these Awards reinforces the company’s long standing successful initiative and engagement to the Maltese Gaming sector, following  also the recent launch of the company’s iGaming platform “Maltco iLottery”. The latter has been a remarkable milestone for the National Lottery operator which reinvigorated the company’s commitment to drive innovation by providing a Responsible Entertainment environment for the benefit of the Maltese society.  

In preparation for the event a press conference has been held this morning during which Maltco Lotteries’ CEO Mr. Vasileios Kasiotakis, commented that the company is honoured to sponsor such recognised local awards. “This initiative brings forward Maltco’s longstanding service and contribution to the Maltese Economy and the Gaming Sector by supporting through advanced skillful professionals the local job sector with more than 700 contributors, as well as continuous game development and game innovation, highlighting the trust that the Maltese community places in the company for the past sixteen years”.

The Malta’s Gaming Excellence Awards 2020 will be taking place on Friday 13th November at the InterContinental hotel. The company has been nominated in six categories, including Malta’s Best Industry Contributor, Malta’s Best CSR Gaming Company and Malta’s Best Workplace of the Year Award. 

Maltco Lotteries awaits this event with great hype following to the believe in its Human Resource effectiveness and measurable contribution for a sustainable gaming industry environment.

For more information you may email info@maltco.net, visit the company’s website, social media pages or call Maltco’s Helpline on 23883333.

IKUN jaf kulħadd illi b’digriet mogħti fis-17 ta’ Lulju 2020 mit-Tribunal għal Talbiet Żgħar (Għawdex), ġiet ordnata l-pubblikazzjoni ta’ l-avviż li jidher hawn taħt sabiex iservi ta’ notifika għall-fini ta’ l-artikolu 187(3) tal-Kap. 12 tal-Liġijiet ta’ Malta fil-konfront tas- socjeta konvenuta Mistec Malta Ltd. (C92364) ta’ 22, Triq Sir Luigi Camilleri, Victoria, Għawdex:


MBR Publications Ltd (C 66371) ta’ 120, Apt. 1, Highland Apartments, Naxxar Road, Birkirkara, Malta, ippreżentat Avviż tat-Talba fit-Tribunal Għal Talbiet Żgħar (Għawdex) – Talba numru 2/2020 fl-ismijiet “MBR Publications Ltd. Vs Mistec Malta Ltd” – fil-21 ta’ Jannar 2020 fejn talbet lit-Tribunal tikkundanna lis-socjeta konvenuta Mistec Malta Ltd tħallas lis-socjeta attrici s-somma ta’ €767 liema ammont jirrapreżenta diversi servizzi li ġew reżi fuq struzzjonijiet tas-soċjeta konvenuta flimkien ma’ l-ispejjez, l-imgħaxijiet u drittijiet legali.


Il-każ huwa differit ghall-4 ta’ Diċembru 2020 fil-11.00am.


Reġistru tal-Qorti tal-Maġistrati (Għawdex)


Illum 9 ta’ Ottubru 2020


Daniel Sacco





IT IS hereby notified that by virtue of a decree given on the 17th of July 2020, the Small Claims Tribunal (Gozo), ordered the publication of the subjoined notice for the purposes of service in respect of the defendant company Mistec Malta Ltd. (C92364) of 22, Sir Luigi Camilleri Street, Victoria, Gozo:


MBR Publications Ltd (C 66371) of 120, Apt. 1, Highland Apartments, Naxxar Road, Birkirkara, Malta filed a claim in the Small Claims Tribunal (Gozo) – Case number 2/2020 in re “MBR Publications Ltd. Vs Mistec Malta Ltd” – on the 21st of January 2020 wherein it requested the Tribunal to condemn the defendant company Mistec Malta Ltd. to pay plaintiff the amount of €767 in connection with different services which were provided on instructions by the defendant company, together with costs, interest and legal expenses.


The hearing of this case is being deferred to the 4th of December 2020 at 11.00am.


Registry of the Court of Magistrates (Gozo)


This 9th of October 2020


Daniel Sacco

Deputy Registrar

Taxpayers deserve an effective protection of the EU budget and of the rule of law


MEPs stressed that Council’s recent proposals did not go far enough to create a practical instrument linking the EU’s funds to the respect of rule of law. 

In Monday´s plenary debate, most MEPs criticised the Council’s position on the “rule of law conditionality mechanism” adopted last week, saying it did not create an instrument that could ever be triggered in practice. With continued violations of rule of law and corruption in some EU countries, the EU owed it to its citizens and taxpayers to effectively protect the EU budget. Some even argued that if EU funding is not conditional on respect for the rule of law, the EU is supporting autocratic regimes and financing breaches of fundamental rights in the member states.


The German presidency of the Council and the European Commission were blamed by some MEPs for creating an ideology that would allow individual member states to be attacked.

Michael Roth of the Council presidency highlighted the fact that the Council and the Parliament were finally in agreement on the need for such an instrument, with all of the EU countries on board with the current proposal, and now had the unique opportunity to create its content together. He asked for Parliament’s help in moving the legislators’ positions closer to each other, and expressed his hope that Parliament would support the instrument’s rapid adoption.


Watch the opening statements by Council Presidency and European Commission on EbS+

Re-watch the first round of EP political group speakers on Ebs+

Re-watch the full debate


Negotiations on the next long-term EU budget and Own Resources continue


Also on Monday, the members of the Parliament’s negotiating team on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and Own Resources (OR) sat together with the Council of the EU for a sixth round of talks on the next EU long-term budget and new sources of EU revenue. They did not reach a breakthrough, neither on the issue of top-ups for 15 EU flagship programmes, nor on other issues.


After the talks, the negotiating team held a press conference. You can find a summary of it by way of a list of their quotes, with the video embedded, all on this webpage.

See their latest press release (28/09/2020).

Enterprise Joins Forces with Burmarrad Group to Offer Vehicle Rental in Malta


Enterprise Holdings has reached an agreement with Burmarrad Group, Malta’s leading family-owned vehicle leasing, management and rental business, to launch its three global vehicle rental brands on the island – Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car.

This partnership marks the final step in Enterprise’s phased programme to extend its award-winning rental business to all 44 countries in Europe. The first Enterprise branded branches are due to open in Malta’s international airport in early 2021.

Enterprise and Burmarrad are closely aligned in their values and operational ethos - both are family-owned market leaders and share the same focus on customer service and care.

Jon Flansburg, Assistant Vice President of Global Franchising at Enterprise Holdings, said the company is pleased to be announcing the completion of its European expansion plan at a time when rental businesses have become essential service providers for key workers and frontline businesses:

“We are delighted to welcome the Burmarrad team to the Enterprise family. We remain very committed to expanding our global footprint in order to provide our customers with the option of renting from their preferred Enterprise business throughout Europe.

“While the pandemic has changed travel plans for many, the requirement for renting a vehicle continues strong as people making essential journeys look for safe transport options once they reach their destination. We want to ensure that we are there to support their motoring needs when they travel overseas and will continue to develop our footprint to ensure we have the network in place to deliver the best customer care.”

Burmarrad Group was established in 1984 and has a diverse fleet of more than 1,000 vehicles, which includes a wide range of specialist commercial and industrial vehicles. In addition to its rental division, Burmarrad is also the top corporate leasing business in Malta and also offers one of the largest vehicle servicing facilities on the island.

Until now, the car rental division has concentrated on the domestic market. The agreement with Enterprise will enable the Group to support the Malta tourism market as it resumes in the future, in addition to growing demand from local businesses to support a large foreign workforce.

While the pandemic has affected tourism in Malta, as it has everywhere, previously it had been growing at around seven per cent per year, and the island welcomed almost three million tourists a year prior to the pandemic.

Burmarrad Director, Mario Gauci Jnr, said, “We are honoured to join forces and represent Enterprise in Malta. Our company has always wanted to tap into the strong tourism market. The agreement with Enterprise will enable the Burmarrad Group to enter Malta’s vibrant tourism market with a bang.

“Although the pandemic has reduced the number of visitors to the country, we are confident that this idyllic Mediterranean island will soon be attracting increasing numbers of foreign visitors to its shores again.

“Enterprise will also appeal to the large number of ex-pats working in Malta. With our knowledge and experience, and with Enterprise’s unrivalled trusted brand, we believe that we will offer our clients peace of mind and a top-quality service in the safest way possible.”

In response to COVID-19, Enterprise introduced its Complete Clean Pledge to enhance how vehicles are thoroughly cleaned between each rental. This includes washing, vacuuming and sanitising with a disinfectant that meets leading health authority requirements, with particular attention to more than 20 high-touch points.


Online Media Training & Conference Invitation for Journalists

7-8 October 2020


The Single Resolution Board would like to invite 14 journalists from across the EU Member States to attend an interactive online media training to discuss key aspects of banking resolution within the EU context. After the training, the journalists are invited to participate in the SRB Conference 2020 - Banking resolution: firm foundations for stability.

Both the training and conference will take place online on 7 and 8 October 2020 in English.

The media training will take place via Zoom platform. The link to the webinar will be shared with confirmed participants who need to make sure they can access it from their web browser.


Please note that after receiving your expression of interest, we will review your application. Once you have been selected, our team will contact you with further information concerning the programme and online practical arrangements ahead of the webinar.

Day 1 (7 October)

A three-hour online media training on the SRB and its role under the SRM Framework with online networking opportunities with SRB staff members and other journalists from the EU.

Day 2 (8 October)

The 2020 SRB Conference is the main resolution expert conference in Europe. During the online session, a series of high-level keynote speakers will provide the audience with further insights around three main themes:

  • The impact of the COVID-19 crisis
  • Resolution planning under the Banking Package
  • The future of the resolution framework.


Speakers include:

  • Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England
  • Isabel Schnabel, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB)
  • Nadia Calviño, Vice-President and Minister for Economy and Digitalisation
  • Luis Garciano, Member of the European Parliament, leader of Ciudadanos in Europe and Vice President for Economic Affairs of Renew Europe
  • Jelena Mc Williams, Charmain of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.


Click here to register your interest


If you require more information, please contact us by email at SRB@gopacom.eu.

Vote on Own Resources: MEPs clear way for COVID-19 recovery plan


  • EP paves way for member states to ratify Own Resources and kick-start EU economies
  • Legally binding calendar needed to introduce new sources of revenue
  • Any further delay in Council would harm social and economic recovery


MEPs accelerate the procedure that will enable the EU to borrow €750 billion for the “Next Generation EU” recovery plan.

MEPs have fast-tracked and voted already during the September plenary session on their legislative opinion on the Own Resources Decision (ORD). This removes an important barrier and speeds up the procedure to implement the key EU law to restart the economy, allowing the Commission to raise €750 billion on the markets for the recovery fund.


Wednesday’s vote makes it possible for the Council of the EU to swiftly adopt the ORD and start the ratification process in 27 EU countries - so that the recovery plan can be launched as soon as possible.


In its opinion, adopted on Wednesday by 455 votes in favour, 146 against and 88 abstentions, Parliament upholds its position on the need to introduce new sources of revenue to the EU budget that should at least cover the costs related to the recovery plan.

Parliament requests a legally binding calendar to introduce these new own resources. Financing the recovery must be sustainable through the introduction e.g. of taxes on transnational polluters and multinational corporations and not become a burden for the next generation, Parliament insists.



José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT), co-rapporteur: “Today, history has been made in the European Parliament. For 32 years, the EU did not have new own resources. The European Commission never went to the markets to borrow at this scale. This report paves the way for the approval of the Own Resources Decision by the Council and to the ratification process in the national parliaments. Time is of the essence for us to have the Recovery Fund after 1 January 2021. What is the Council waiting for?”


Valérie Hayer (RENEW, FR), co-rapporteur: "The borrowing for the Recovery is now on track thanks to the green light provided by the MEPs today. We will now ensure that the debt is repaid by tech giants, tax dodgers, big foreign polluters and others who do benefit from our single market but do not contribute fairly to our prosperity and the protection of our planet".


More information is available in the draft legislative resolution.



Parliament’s vote on the legislative opinion is a key step that will allow for the Own Resources Decision to be adopted by the Council and submitted for ratification by the 27 member states’ parliaments. The ORD is the legal basis that provides for the revenue sources of the EU budget.


Moreover, the new ORD will constitute the legal basis authorising funds to be borrowed on the financial markets to finance the Next Generation EU Recovery Instrument (NGEU). The Council adopts the decision by unanimity after having consulted the European Parliament. Before entering into force, foreseen for January 2021 together with the new MFF, the ORD needs to be ratified by the parliaments of all member states.

Parliament says shipping industry must contribute to climate neutrality


  • Parliament in favour of 40% reduction in CO2 by 2030
  • Maritime transport to be included in EU Emissions Trading System (ETS)
  • An “Ocean Fund” to contribute to protecting marine ecosystems


To decarbonise maritime transport, Parliament voted to include CO2 emissions from the sector in the EU Emissions Trading System.

On Wednesday, Parliament adopted its position on the Commission’s proposal to revise the EU system for monitoring, reporting and verifying CO2 emissions from maritime transport (the “EU MRV Regulation”) with 520 votes to 94 and 77 abstentions.


MEPs largely agree that reporting obligations by the EU and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) should be aligned, as proposed by the Commission. They note, however, that the IMO has made insufficient progress in reaching an ambitious global agreement on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They ask the Commission to examine the overall environmental integrity of the measures decided by the IMO, including the targets under the Paris Agreement. A global ambitious agreement on GHG emissions from shipping is urgently needed, they add.


Maritime transport must be included in the EU Emissions Trading System

Parliament wants maritime transport to be more ambitious and believes ships of 5000 gross tonnage and above should be included in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

However, MEPs say that market-based emissions reduction policies are not enough and request that shipping companies reduce their annual average CO2 emissions per transport unit for all their ships by at least 40% by 2030.


Establish an Ocean Fund

MEPs call for an “Ocean Fund” for the period from 2022 to 2030, financed by revenues from auctioning allowances under the ETS, to make ships more energy-efficient and to support investment in innovative technologies and infrastructure, such as alternative fuel and green ports. 20 % of the revenues under the Fund should be used to contribute to protecting, restoring and efficiently managing marine ecosystems impacted by global warming.



Rapporteur Jutta Paulus (Greens/EFA) said: "Today, we are sending a strong signal in line with the European Green Deal and the climate emergency: Monitoring and reporting CO2 emissions is important, but statistics alone do not save a single gram of greenhouse gas! That’s why we are going further than the Commission proposal and demanding tougher measures to reduce emissions from maritime shipping".


Next steps

Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with member states on the final shape of the legislation.



Maritime transport remains the only sector with no specific EU commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Global shipping activity emits significant amounts of GHG emissions, estimated to be around 2-3% of total global GHG emissions. This is more than the emissions of any EU member state. In 2017 in the EU, 13 % of total EU greenhouse gas emissions from transport came from the maritime sector

Air Malta issues call for a Chief Executive Officer


Air Malta today issued a local and international call for applications for a dynamic and an experienced leader to join its team in the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Whilst working closely with the Board of Directors, the CEO will be expected to manage the growth and performance of Air Malta, developing and implementing a global strategy, and assuming the responsibility for all strategic and commercial aspects of the company. The CEO will be responsible for the viability, growth, and sustainability of the organisation whilst promoting and supporting a stable, harmonious, and productive working environment for all. To thrive as a CEO, she/he is expected to be a judicious manager and an inspiring leader. Management experience is an utmost asset, as well as a proven track record of effective team management and a results-driven leadership. The selected candidate is expected to have business acumen with the ability to be agile and adapt to challenges and new developments in the aviation industry. The ultimate aim of the role of the CEO will be to strengthen the airline in its stance to explore new revenue streams, adopt new emerging technologies that shall enhance operations together with customer experience and guide the Airline towards long-term success. Applications, including a covering letter, should be sent by email to ceovacancy@airmalta.com

Applications close on Friday 2nd October 2020.

Air Malta saved the country from incurring €5.5 million in costs for the transportation of medical goods in the wake of the Covid-19 emergency


Air Malta was instrumental in saving up to €5.5 million in cargo costs, as it assisted the Government of Malta for delivery of some 800 tonnes of medical supplies to Mater Dei Hospital frontline workers at the height of the Covid-19 emergency. Air Malta was in fact crucial in engaging its commercial partners in securing substantial cost-saving on the delivery of this exceptional cargo. Following Mater Dei Hospital Logistics Department request for assistance, Air Malta Chief Executive Clifford Chetcuti intervened to find a better solution to a proposal submitted by a Hong Kong based logistics operator. As the National Airline attempted to respond to the request made by Government, it transpired that carrying some 800,000kgs of cargo would be logistically impossible, given that Air Malta would have had to operate some 100 flights to and from China. Another daunting challenge would have seen Air Malta crews be segregated into quarantine both in China and upon return to Malta. Analysing government’s request regarding this exceptional load, it only made sense that a specific dedicated ‘freighter aircraft’ be chartered to transport the supplies. Air Malta does not have this capacity. Air Malta CEO Clifford Chetcuti, assisted by staff at the Airline’s Cargo Section, engaged with various international logistics operators. It was through Air Malta’s excellent commercial relations with Qatar Airways, that a viable and far less costly solution was found to transport such an exceptional load to Malta. After negotiating, it was agreed that the cargo would be brought to Malta using eight special flights operated by Qatar Airways Boeing 777 Freighter. Minister for Economy and Investment Silvio Schembri praised the work done by Air Malta, whose intervention was ‘crucial not only in ensuring the record time arrival of the medical cargo, but also resulted in financial savings of some €5.5 million in transport costs for the country.’ Through such extraordinary savings, government was able to acquire more medical supplies in the form of PPE’s and masks for the front liners in our hospitals. ‘Moreover, this also shows the tenacity and diligence by management at Air Malta, who ensure in engaging with the right strategic commercial partners, who when the need arises, these same partners are there to support our National Airline,’ Minister Schembri said. Air Malta remains committed towards its social obligation to the people of Malta and Gozo.

Future of Events - The New Scenario


SHUT IT DOWN: The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said a “recent spike” in coronavirus cases around the Continent comes as a result of relaxed containment measures, recommending countries reinstall or reinforce them, particularly shutting down airports.


DANGEROUS WEEK: The coming days will be important in determining whether Malta has to introduce stricter measures, including a potential second partial lockdown. Everyone has to deal with his own conscience, but please let us not underestimate the problem, nor take unwanted actions without consulting experts from the respective labour sectors, or industry clusters.


More cash grants following the EU's COVID-19 cash supplements to Malta intended for struggling self-employed people during this period should be made abundant and immediate. Struggling self-employed, especially those working in the event sector, are being kept in suspended animation, without knowing their future and what is behind the corner. Action must be taken immediately as otherwise mass layoffs loom on the horizon.


Humans crave physical interaction with other humans. We want to be part of a tribe of other humans. That’s baked into our neuroscience. Our brains thrive around being around people who are just like us.

Getting back to normal will take some time, and events will look very different in the interim. Expect more sophisticated virtual participation options, smaller satellite events complementing larger gatherings, and people carefully examining the return on investment from attending. 


As for meeting and event planners and all stakeholders of the meetings and events industry, we are still witnessing the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. But little by little, we see the light at the end of the tunnel: Some countries are already easing lockdowns, and even the first events and conferences are going to be live very soon. as planners, we are more than capable of readjusting and adapting to the situation, aren’t we? In this time of uncertainty, we have to encourage ourselves for a new landscape in meetings and events. 


While the virus recovery timeline is still not promising, the events industry cannot remain frozen. Therefore, smaller events with a manageable audience are the immediate future of the industry. 

The event design is also bound to change dramatically due to social distancing requirements. At this point, it would be close to impossible to hold round table discussions, and personal interactions will be a challenge. Here are some notable changes in the future of events after the Coronavirus pandemic:



For an industry that thrives in human interactions, physical distancing will be a headache for event planners; they will have to book a large venue to host a small number of invitees. The event design will also have to adopt a new seating arrangement. For instance, planners might be forced to rethink seating, like forgoing the theatre style and go for a U-style, which allows for more distance while promoting conversations. 

If the venue does not offer a big space, organisers will require cameras in various rooms so that the speaker can reach a broader audience.


Apart from keeping invitees the required distance apart, you may have to find creative ways to register guests on the registration desk. If you must register invitees, you can use physical signage to show the correct distance in queues. You should also avoid handing out badges for a while. Alternatively, you can ask visitors to print badges at home and self-scan at the registration booth.



Event organisers like having a food or coffee buffet for guests in between sessions. However, catering will change since self-serving buffets put guests at risk. If event organisers have to plan for seated dining with the specified physical distance, the cost of food and beverage will skyrocket even with tight budgeting. Coffee and tea stations are a significant part of a conference, but after COVID-19, they may be a thing of the past. Instead of cups and coffee mugs, disposable cups will be preferable. But what about all the sustainability efforts then?



The major draws for face-to-face events are the socialising and networking components. It is fair to say that it would be too risky to attempt social activities soon. It will increase the chances of handshaking and mass gathering, which is against distancing requirements. However, event organisers can structure and guide networking sessions. For instance, encouraging seated interactions will ensure adequate physical distancing while having a conversation.



Minimal physical contact prohibits passing around a microphone during an interactive session. Luckily, social media pages and mobile apps can make up for the shortcoming. An attendee can post a question or comment using the event hashtag. It will also be best to allow guests to send questions to the speaker’s screen using their phones without jeopardising anyone’s health.




Even with the above changes, people will have doubts about attending a live event unless there are stringent measures in place. To put the invitees at ease, event planners could publish guidelines which might include:



Post-COVID-19 events will require thermal scanning at entrances. Therefore, event organisers should prepare for it. If the venue is not well equipped for thermal scanning, it will jeopardise the security of the conference. While there is speculation as to whether thermal scanning helps to curb the spread, it is an expected layer of protection. Installing thermal cameras in the venue will also give the invitees some reassurance.



Sanitising booths are becoming a staple in most public locations. The future of events after COVID-19 will have improved sanitation outside conference halls. A handwashing booth should be available with signage to instruct invitees. Before the event, planners should have push notifications via mobile apps to encourage handwashing at the event. Apart from providing sanitation services during your events, it would help if you gave away free masks.



Regular disinfection of high traffic areas and surfaces will be vital. Therefore, an on-site cleaning crew will come in handy. They can decontaminate doors, equipment, and high-contact surfaces. The new normal will also call for disinfection of the conference halls during breaks.



Event organisers may need to offer triage or a room to isolate staff or guests who fall ill during the event. If the affected attendee cannot leave immediately, the organisers should contact the local hospital. When putting together the event, it is also essential to have a plan for taking care of the vulnerable population. While you can discourage them from attending, when they show up, you need to have measures in place to ensure their safety.



Even when physical events are back in full swing, we expect a surge in the popularity of virtual and hybrid events. With the lack of a vaccine and fears of a second outbreak, event organisers will be wary of holding large conferences. Many organisers are already acquiring resources to boost attendance and quality of their virtual events.

RELATED: A Guide To Help You Host Virtual Conferences


Before the Coronavirus pandemic, virtual conferencing was an afterthought due to the need for human interaction. However, hybrid events are becoming a popular way of conducting events without jeopardising the safety of guests. Hybrid events enable a small group to attend a face-to-face discussion and involve a broad audience through multiple digital channels. Apart from enhancing the experience of virtual conferences, they provide global outreach. Guests from around the globe can convene and listen to the round table discussion from experts; they can also contribute and interact with other invitees.



Hosting events will be challenging after the pandemic. For most organisers, the risk component is unbearable and virtual, and hybrid solutions will be part of the new normal. However, with the right measures and involvement of health and safety experts, and guidelines in place, we will be able to organise, host or attend live events.

Il-Patt Ekoloġiku Ewropew jasal fil-livell lokali 


Il-Kumitat Ewropew tar-Reġjuni qed iniedi grupp ta’ ħidma ġdid biex jiżgura li l-bliet u r-reġjuni jkunu jistgħu jibdew jimplimentaw il-Patt Ekoloġiku Ewropew bi proġetti konkreti u b’finanzjament dirett lill-awtoritajiet lokali u reġjonali 

Il-Kumitat Ewropew tar-Reġjuni llum nieda l-Grupp ta’ Ħidma dwar il-Patt Ekoloġiku fil-Livell Lokali.  Magħmul minn 13-il rappreżentant elett lokali u reġjonali, l-objettiv tiegħu huwa li jiggarantixxi li l-bliet u r-reġjuni tal-UE jkunu direttament involuti fid-definizzjoni, l-implimentazzjoni u l-valutazzjoni tal-ħafna inizjattivi taħt il-Patt Ekoloġiku Ewropew, l-istrateġija ta’ tkabbir sostenibbli tal-UE biex tinkiseb in-newtralità klimatika sal-2050. 

Issa wasal iż-żmien li ninvestu flimkien u naċċelleraw it-tranżizzjoni lejn ekonomija nadifa, sostenibbli u newtrali f’termini tal-karbonju. Permezz tal-pakkett ta’ rkupru tal-UE u l-Patt Ekoloġiku Ewropew, għandna nirresponsabilizzaw u niffinanzjaw lill-bliet u lir-reġjuni biex nibnu r-reżiljenza u noħorġu mill-kriżi tal-COVID-19. Dan huwa l-messaġġ ewlieni li qed jasal mill-ewwel laqgħa tal-Grupp ta’ Ħidma dwar il-Patt Ekoloġiku. Il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma qed jibda l-ħidma tiegħu hekk kif il-Kummissjoni Ewropea ppreżentat strument ta’ rkupru ġdid ta’ EUR 750 biljun, u rrinfurzat l-elementi relatati mal-klima inklużi fil-proposta tal-baġit fit-tul ta’ EUR 1 100 biljun għall-2021-2027. Dan issa għandu bżonn l-approvazzjoni tal-Istati Membri tal-UE u l-Parlament Ewropew. 

Juan Espadas (ES/PSE), Sindku ta’ Sevilja u President tal-grupp ta’ ħidma, qal li: “Id-dinja qed tiffaċċja l-aktar reċessjoni ħarxa li nistgħu niftakru, iżda m’għandniex ninsew li l-isfida tal-klima għadha hemm. Il-Patt Ekoloġiku Ewropew huwa l-aħjar għodda li għandna biex nindirizzaw iż-żewġ kriżijiet flimkien. Huwa opportunità biex ninvestu fit-trasport pubbliku nadif, fl-enerġija rinnovabbli, f’akkomodazzjoni b’materjal iżolanti affordabbli, fl-agrikoltura sostenibbli, u fil-protezzjoni tal-bijodiversità. Din hija rivoluzzjoni pożittiva iżda ma tistax tinkiseb mingħajr l-involviment sħiħ tal-bliet u r-reġjuni u l-appoġġ Ewropew. Bħala President tal-Grupp ta’ Ħidma, irrid niżgura li t-talbiet tagħna jinstemgħu aktar u b’mod ċar.”

Waqt id-diskors tagħha fid-dibattitu dwar ‘l-irkupru ekoloġiku’, l-MEP Aurore Lalucq (FR/S&D), kopresident tal-Intergrupp tal-Patt Ekoloġiku Ġdid fil-Parlament Ewropew, qalet: “Il-Patt Ekoloġiku qabel il-kriżi tal-COVID-19 ma jistax ikun l-istess wara l-kriżi. Illum, neħtieġu aktar ambizzjoni, baġit tal-UE akbar u investimenti akbar. Il-Patt Ekoloġiku huwa s-soluzzjoni għall-kriżi ekonomika iżda wkoll l-opportunità biex jitnieda mudell ta’ żvilupp ġdid li jgħaqqad flimkien il-ġustizzja ambjentali u soċjali. Irid ikollna l-immaġinazzjoni, il-prammatiżmu u l-flessibilità biex id-deċiżjonijiet makroekonomiċi jiġu adattati għat-territorji permezz ta’ djalogu soċjali wiesa’.  Il-Patt Ekoloġiku huwa l-mezz adatt biex tiġi implimentata politika ambizzjuża tal-impjiegi u biex kull ċittadin Ewropew jingħata impjieg deċenti u paga deċenti. Sabiex nirnexxu, jeħtieġ li nimmobilizzaw l-atturi kollha fil-livell nazzjonali iżda wkoll fil-livell Ewropew u dak lokali. Huwa għalhekk li d-djalogu bejn l-Intergrupp tal-Patt Ekoloġiku Ġdid fil-Parlament Ewropew u l-Kumitat Ewropew tar-Reġjuni huwa essenzjali, daqs id-djalogu bejn l-istituzzjonijiet Ewropej u l-gvernijiet lokali.”

Waqt li kien qed jindirizza lill-membri tal-grupp ta’ ħidma, Diederik Samsom, il-Kap tal-Kabinett tal-Kummissarju Frans Timmermans, Viċi President Eżekuttiv tal-Kummissjoni Ewropea responsabbli għall-Patt Ekoloġiku Ewropew, qal: “Nimpenjaw ruħna li niżguraw li l-Patt Ekoloġiku tassew jasal fil-livell lokali. Il-kriżi tal-COVID-19 titlob li nadattaw għal realtà ġdida iżda wkoll li nipprijoritizzaw u naċċelleraw l-implimentazzjoni ta’ dawk l-elementi tal-Patt Ekoloġiku li jikkontribwixxu b’mod dirett għat-tkabbir u l-impjiegi, pereżempju, il-“mewġa ta’ rinnovazzjoni”, l-ekonomija ċirkolari u l-ekoloġizzazzjoni tal-bliet u t-trasport urban tagħna. L-ebda tranżizzjoni mhi se tirnexxi jekk ma tkunx ankrata sew fil-bliet u r-reġjuni Ewropej. Irridu naħdmu flimkien biex niksbu riżultati għall-Ewropej.”

L-għan tal-Grupp ta’ Ħidma dwar il-Patt Ekoloġiku fil-Livell Lokali huwa li jiżgura li kemm il-Patt Ekoloġiku Ewropew kif ukoll l-istrateġija ta’ rkupru tal-UE fil-fatt jissarrfu fi proġetti tanġibbli u finanzjament dirett għall-awtoritajiet lokali u reġjonali. Il-grupp ta’ ħidma għandu tliet objettivi speċifiċi:

Li jlaqqa’ flimkien il-fehmiet tal-bliet u r-reġjuni fil-KtR dwar il-bosta inizjattivi ta’ politika fi ħdan il-Patt Ekoloġiku Ewropew, u jiżgura li dawn leħinhom jinstema’.

Li jiffaċilita l-ħidma konġunta tal-istituzzjonijiet tal-UE sabiex il-bliet u r-reġjuni jitqiegħdu fil-qalba ta’ politiki li jippromovu n-newtralità karbonika.

Li jwassal l-isfidi li l-awtoritajiet lokali u reġjonali jiffaċċjaw waqt l-implimentazzjoni tat-tranżizzjoni ekoloġika lokalment u li jenfasizza l-kisbiet u l-aħjar prattiki tagħhom, sabiex tiġi ffaċilitata r-replikazzjoni tagħhom fl-Unjoni Ewropea.  


Id-dossiers prijoritarji attwali tal-grupp ta’ ħidma jinkludu l-Liġi Ewropea dwar il-Klima u l-Patt Klimatiku, il-Fond għal Tranżizzjoni Ġusta, strateġija industrijali ġdida għall-Ewropa, arja u ilma nodfa, idroġenu, il-Pjan ta’ Azzjoni għal Ekonomija Ċirkolari l-ġdid, bijodiversità u l-foresti.


Il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma huwa magħmul minn 13-il membrumis-sitt kummissjonijiet kollha u mis-sitt gruppi politiċi kollha fil-KtR, u dan jagħmlu inizjattiva tassew orizzontali u inklużiva. 

Juan Espadas (ES/PSE), Sindku ta’ Sevilja (President)

Roby Biwer (LU/PSE), Membru tal-Kunsill Komunali tal-Komun ta’ Bettembourg

Manuela Bora (IT/PSE), Kunsillier u Membru tal-Gvern Reġjonali tal-Marche (fil-laqgħa tal-lum sostitwita minn Donatella Porzi (IT/PSE), Kunsillier Reġjonali tal-Umbria)

Isabelle Boudineau (FR/PSE), Reġjun ta’ Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Viċi President, Affarijiet Ewropej u Internazzjonali

Vincent Chauvet (FR/Renew Europe), Sindku ta’ Autun (Dipartiment ta’ Saône-et-Loire)

József Kóbor (HU/AE), Membru tal-Gvern Lokali ta’ Pécs

Markku Markkula (FI/PPE), Membru tal-Kunsill tal-Belt ta’ Espoo

Michael Murphy (IE/PPE) Membru tal-Kunsill tal-Kontea ta’ Tipperary

Ricardo Rio (PT/PPE), Sindku ta’ Braga

Stelpstra Tjisse (NL/KRE), Membru tal-Kunsill Eżekuttiv tal-Provinċja ta’ Drenthe

Mirja Vehkaperä (FI/Renew Europe), Membru tal-Kunsill tal-Belt ta’ Oulu

Bernd Voß (DE/Il-Ħodor), Membru tal-Parlament tal-Land ta’ Schleswig-Holstein

Hanna Zdanowska (PL/PPE), President ta’ Łodź


Il-grupp ta’ ħidma ser jiltaqa’ fuq bażi regolari u jikkontribwixxi għas-sessjonijiet plenarji tal-Kumitat Ewropew tar-Reġjuni, u l-ewwel kontribut se jingħata waqt il-plenarja tal-1 u t-2 ta’ Lulju li jmiss b’dibattitu dwar “Reġjuni u Bliet għal Irkupru Ekoloġiku” , bil-parteċipazzjoni tal-MEP u l-President tal-Kumitat ENVI tal-Parlament Ewropew, Pascal Canfin. Ser isiru żewġ dibattiti oħra: wieħed dwar il-QFP futur fid-dawl tal-irkupru wara l-kriżi tal-COVID-19 mal-Kummissarju Johannes Hahn, u ieħor dwar l-aspetti ekonomiċi tal-irkupru wara l-COVID-19 mal-Kummissarju Thierry Breton.




Ikklikkja hawn biex taċċessa l-portal web il-ġdid 'Green Deal Going Local'.  


Aqra hawnhekk ir-riżoluzzjoni dwar il-Patt Ekoloġiku adottata mill-Kumitat Ewropew tar-Reġjuni f’Diċembru 2019. 


X’qed jingħad mir-relaturi għall-Patt Ekoloġiku: issa tista’ taqra s-serje ġdida tagħna ta’ intervisti hawnhekk. 


Il-Patt Ekoloġiku Ewropew huwa l-pjan direzzjonali biex l-ekonomija tal-UE ssir sostenibbli. Dan jinkludi strateġija ġdida ta’ tkabbir sostenibbli flimkien ma’ sett ta’ miżuri leġislattivi, azzjonijiet ta’ politika u mekkaniżmi ta’ finanzjament. Għandu tliet objettivi: li ma jkunux hemm emissjonijiet netti ta’ gass b’effett ta’ serra sal-2050; li t-tkabbir ekonomiku jiġi diżakkoppjat mill-użu tar-riżorsi, u li l-ebda persuna u l-ebda post ma jitħallew jibqgħu lura (Kummissjoni Ewropea). L-ambitu tal-Patt Ekoloġiku Ewropew jinkludi l-oqsma li ġejjin: 


Enerġija sostenibbli

Ekonomija ċirkolari

Trasport nadif 

Natura u bijodiversità

Ikel u agrikoltura

Finanzjament ekoloġiku

Air Malta starts sales for its Safe Corridor Summer 2020 schedule


Air Malta has just launched its new Summer 2020 schedule based on the safe corridor concept and has today opened its reservation systems for sales. Flights to Catania, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Prague and Luxemburg will start operating as of the 1st July, with flights to Zurich and Geneva coming online a week later. Flights prices start at just Euro39 one way and are available on-line on www.airmalta.com and through all local and foreign travel agents. After nearly three months of only operating ‘lifeline’ flights to London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Rome, Air Malta is excited to start welcoming scheduled passengers again and looks forward to flying over 150,000 passengers between our European destinations and Malta in collaboration with the Malta Tourism Authority, Malta International Airport and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. The Airline’s ‘lifeline’ schedule will remain in operation. Air Malta Holidays, the Airline’s brand of package holidays that includes flights and hotel accommodation, will also have special packages that it will be selling overseas to attract tourism to Malta. In the coming days, the Maltese Airline will be launching a strong social media campaign on its channels to entice tourism to Malta with really attractive offers.

Air Malta makes 69 pilots redundant as ALPA fails to cooperate


Air Malta stated that talks with ALPA (the Airline’s pilot union) on measures to avoid redundancies in order to safeguard its ongoing sustainability and viability, failed. After numerous lengthy meetings, Air Malta and the union did not reach an agreement and consequently the Airline was left with no other choice but to proceed with the redundancies of 69 of its pilots. The Airline stated, that while the other unions representing the rest of its workforce understood the need to accept changes required to safeguard their livelihood, ALPA instead resorted to making unreasonable demands at a time when the Airline’s revenue has been severely compromised due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. Air Malta regrets the stance ALPA has taken to the detriment of its members, which forced the Airline to take the undesired action with the resultant consequences to a large segment of its pilot workforce. Air Malta remains committed to ensure the connectivity of the Islands to its major core European routes and its ongoing sustainability to the benefit of the remainder of its workforce and the Maltese economy it so supports.

Air Malta reaffirms its commitment towards its customers


Air Malta confirms its full commitment towards its customers and reiterates its promise to honour all requested refunds and process any of the three voucher options selected by customers that can be used on future flights. The closure of most airports, with the consequential sudden stop of most of revenue from ticket sales, was not a scenario the aviation industry in general ever envisaged. Air Malta, like many other airlines, is offering several refund options to ensure the sustainability of all the stakeholders in the travel distribution chain and facilitate the requests of customers. Air Malta said that, to date, following the sudden closure of airports, the Airline cancelled over 5,000 flights, disrupting travel plans of over half a million passengers, and possibly many more to come as the Airline restructures its network going forward. To date, the Airline received over 40,000 requests for refund, rebooking or applications for one of the voucher options offered to its customers. As time passes and the network takes shape, many new requests are expected. “It is indeed an unprecedented situation and the Airline has mobilised a large number of additional resources from across the Company to process these requests. Air Malta understands the concerns of the customers with delays in getting replies, however, unfortunately, it’s difficult to reply in a timely manner. For transparency and to set the right expectations, the Airline has, however, committed to clear the backlog of requests by the end of October. Although it is taking longer than it normally would, the Airline remains committed to honour each request”, said the Airline. Air Malta thanks its customers for their patience, understanding and continuous support during these difficult times, however, also hopes that the new flight schedule commencing on the 1st of July will offer more people the opportunity to fly.

EP supports local authorities fighting the effects of the pandemic


Besides Parliament’s core activities, President Sassoli has offered EP support to local authorities providing meals, shelter and a COVID-19 testing centre.

The current precautionary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 have not affected the European Parliament’s capacity to ensure the legislative, budgetary and scrutiny functions of the Institution.

Besides its core activities, the European Parliament contacted the local authorities to offer its support in addressing the socio economic consequences of the crisis in its three main places of work. As result, different agreements with local authorities are in place to address specific requests and needs due to the current circumstances.

“We are all involved in an emergency which touches people’s lives. This crisis must push all of us, including the institutions, to set a good example” said European Parliament President David Sassoli.



Thanks to its logistical services, the European Parliament provides about 7,000 meals per week, since 14 April, distributed in collaboration with various charitable associations: Resto du Coeur Saint Gilles, DoucheFLUX, the Red Cross, Mother Teresa and CPAS Ixelles. Parliament has also started to deliver meals for medical staff at Saint Pierre hospital.

In addition, 100 vulnerable women have been offered a shelter on EP Brussels premises. The Samusocial of the Brussels Region has been running the fully equipped installations in EP’s Kohl building since 29 April. The Parliament also provides the associated catering 7 days a week to them in a cafeteria reorganised to respect all precautionary measures.

The European Parliament has also made available part of its car and truck fleet for the transportation of supplies and delivering meals to nurses and doctors.



Parliament cooperates with the local Croix Rouge in coordination with the city of Strasbourg and provides 500 meals/day, seven days a week for people in need.

In agreement with the Prefecture du Bas-Rhin, a screening centre of the COVID-19 opened in the EP in Strasbourg on 11 May in the Louise WEISS building. Four Medical diagnostic laboratories from the region are responsible for the tests of the general population and the actions are supervised by the Regional Health Agency of the Grand-Est (ARS) and the Prefecture du Bas-Rhin. The EP also offered also its car/truck fleet for the transportation of supplies if needed.



The EP cooperates with local associations Abrigado, Caritas and Croix-Rouge and provides 500 meals/day, seven days a week for people in need. Interpretation booths (with glass windows) used for external missions have also been provided to a nursing home in Bettembourg to allow the residents to see their relatives, after long weeks of confinement, without the risk of contamination.


Contacts and footage

Please note that while the European Parliament has made its premises available, the initiatives are managed by the local authorities and associations. If you need further information you can contact them directly.

In order to respect as much as possible the work of the local organizations and avoid disturbing services or their privacy, the European Parliament Media Centre has a collection of photos and videos downloadable and ready to use with images from the initiatives in Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg.


Useful Contacts

List of contacts from the local authorities the European Parliament collaborates with in addressing the crisis in its three work places:



Useful Links

In order to respect as much as possible the work of the local organizations, the European Parliament Media Centre (https://multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/en/coronavirus-outbreak_14903_pk) has a collection of photos and videos downloadable and ready to use with images from the initiatives in Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg.


The Grimaldi Foundation reaches out to Mater Dei Hospital in time of need.

















The Grimaldi Foundation is an organ of the Grimaldi Group of Naples, Italy.  A global ship owner and operator connecting several continents and having concentrated intra and extra Mediterranean networks served by next generation green vessels and a young fleet.

The Group is a family run business headed by Emmanuel Grimaldi, now in its third generation with solid values and strong humanistic beliefs.  It is through this ethos that the Grimaldi Foundation was instituted with the specific aim of being always prepared to provide help where needed in difficult situations such as the current pandemic.

Grimaldi Group, well known locally through the regular, dedicated ferry services connecting Malta to the European mainland and several other destinations then on, has a 50 year uninterrupted service history with Malta of which the Grimaldi family are particularly fond and proud of and continues to commit itself to providing this life link especially during difficult times.

As a tangible recognition of this legacy, the Grimaldi Foundation has taken the initiative to support Mater Dei Hospital in the procurement of vital equipment required in this time of need.  A donation of Euro 100,000 was presented to the Ministry of Health to go towards medical equipment.

The donation was organized through the Grimaldi Group agents and representatives in Malta: Sullivan Maritime Ltd.


Why responsible and sustainable (ESG) investing is now mainstream: deVere CEO


Economic and social upheaval plus the collapse of oil prices have pushed responsible and impactful investing further into mainstream finance, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organizations.

The comments from Nigel Green, the chief executive and founder of deVere Group, come as the global coronavirus emergency continues and as oil prices went negative this week for the first time in history.

Mr Green says: “At the start of 2020 I said that Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing would reshape the investment landscape in this new decade – but this phenomenon has been dramatically and irreversibly accelerated by the current situation.

“Even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, ESG investments often outperformed the market and had lower volatility over the long-run.  

“What is perhaps more impressive is that those investments with robust ESG credentials are still typically continuing to outperform throughout the coronavirus-triggered stock market crashes where major indices were extremely volatile, with some plummeting 20 per cent.

“Clearly, this is going to increasingly attract both retail and institutional investors seeking decent returns in turbulent times.”

He continues: “The collapse of oil prices, which are likely not to rebound to pre-crisis levels in the short-term, has also helped drive ESG investments to the top of the performance charts and keep them there.

“This is because ESG funds circumnavigate oil stocks, so their performance will not be adversely impacted by the fall in share prices.

“There is a wider and growing force behind the rise of Environmental, Social and Governance investing,” says Nigel Green.

“The current situation has acted as a wake-up call in many respects.  

“It underscores that human health is reliant upon healthy ecosystems; that we need to ensure the sustainability of supply chains; and that those companies with robust corporate governance and good business practice fare better in difficult times and are ultimately best-positioned for the future.

“This growing collective awareness of mutual responsibility fits perfectly into the narrative of ESG investing.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “The collective wake-up call delivered by Covid-19 plus the search for profits in these highly unusual times are catapulting responsible, sustainable and impactful investing into the mainstream.”


MGA | The Malta Gaming Authority and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit sign a Memorandum of Understanding


The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) have consolidated their long standing relationship by means of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), specifically aimed at improving the sharing of information and co-operation between the two entities, on the areas of supervision of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT), provided for by the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (Cap. 373 of the Laws of Malta).

The MGA’s Chief Executive Officer, Heathcliff Farrugia, said he was delighted to sign such an important MOU with the FIAU, stating: “Our relationship with the FIAU has gone from strength to strength, particularly since the introduction of EU’s 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive.  Due to the nature of our roles, we are in regular contact, also conducting joint supervision on MGA-licensed entities.  This MOU will thus continue to strengthen this collaboration, underpinning our resolve to ensure Malta’s gaming sector is kept free from crime, preventing money laundering and combating the funding of terrorism.”

Kenneth Farrugia, Director of the FIAU, said that "the MGA is a strategic partner of the FIAU in ensuring that the highest levels of AML/CFT compliance are applied across the gaming sector. The MOU will therefore further strengthen the long-standing excellent relationship and the level of collaboration between the two authorities and demonstrates our commitment and determination in increasing Malta's effectiveness in combatting money laundering and terrorism financing.”

The provisions of the MOU also allow both parties to discuss avenues of further co-operation in the area of AML/CFT, including in relation to training of respective employees, training of persons and entities licensed by the MGA, and assessing the competency on AML/CFT of individuals holding key positions with licensed entities, particularly those appointed as Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO).

The MOU was signed by Heathcliff Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer of the MGA and Jesmond Gatt, Chairperson of the FIAU.

Air Malta Replies to the ECA and ALPA


Air Malta refers to the letter sent to Malta’s Prime Minister, Dr Robert Abela, and the Minister for Economy, Investment and Small Businesses, Mr. Silvio Schembri, by the European Cockpit Association of which ALPA, the union representing Air Malta pilots, is a member. Air Malta notes that it would have been better if ALPA sat around the table with the company first to discuss the financial implications of the pandemic on the Airline. Air Malta highlights the fact that ALPA repeatedly dismissed offers from the airline to reach an agreement, that would have been sustainable and would have safeguarded the employment of its members. ALPA’s attempted display of force, seeking to leverage the company into paying pilots more than other employees in a time of virtually zero revenues is appalling. During times of crisis it comes without saying that all stakeholders should be cooperating to safeguard the survival and long-term viability of the airline, not personal interest. The airline also notes that it is ironic that ALPA is now making comparisons with pilots employed with other European Airlines when in the past the union refuted such comparisons when the company had proposed similar conditions which were more at par with the industry norms. Air Malta highlights an excerpt from the ECA letter where it says, “The burden of the current situation must be borne equally by all employees from the very top to the bottom. Pilots are willing to carry their fair share of the burden, after ensuring that the process of meaningful consultation has been duly carried out…”. The airline notes that this is precisely what it tried to do with ALPA several times, but it was ignored. Air Malta insists that pilots should not feel entitled to be paid more than other employees, in a situation where its members are at home with absolutely no work and the company is facing economic hardship. While temporary arrangements are necessary to deal with the ongoing crisis, the union has clearly shown that it will leverage its position when presented with the opportunity. The airline’s primary interest is to ensure that it safeguards its longterm viability and that its operations are not compromised. Longerterm measures are therefore required to protect the airline and its sustainability from unjustified leverage, once it starts flying again. Air Malta is responsible to safeguard all its employees and therefore cannot prefer one section over others.

Air Malta offers more flexibility and value for cancelled flights due to Covid-19


Air Malta has today announced three new options for all customers who have had their flight cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The new terms offer more flexibility and value to customers in the form of travel vouchers that range from future credits to an extra 30% Travel Voucher of the value of the fare purchased. These options are only redeemable once per booking. Option 1: Ready to ‘Book your trip’ - if you currently know when and where you want to go. The ‘Book Your Trip’ option, allows customers to change their destination (if flight is originating from Malta) and choose a new date within 12 months from the date of the original flight free of charge. In addition, a Eur20 Travel Voucher for each flight and passenger booked will be offered to all those that choose this option. This Travel Voucher is valid for 12 months from the date of issue on any Air Malta operated flight. It is fully transferable and non-refundable. Option 2: ‘Save your trip’ - if you don’t currently know when and where you want to go. The ‘Save your trip’ option will offer customers an additional 30% of the value of the original fare price (excluding taxes and fees). These Travel Vouchers are valid for 12 months from the date of issue on any Air Malta operated flight. These are fully transferable and nonrefundable. Option 3: Decide on your ‘Trip Later’ - if you are not sure you are going to travel in the future. The Travel Voucher with this option is valid for 12 months from the date of issue on any Air Malta operated flight. It is non-transferable and fully refundable. If not used, you can apply for a refund of the Travel Voucher in the last month of its validity. More information and links to apply for any of these options is available here: www.airmalta.com/information/keep-your-trip-for-the-future Following the receipt of these online forms, customers will be contacted and sent their Travel Vouchers. Air Malta is ensuring to offer the best options for its customers during these extraordinary circumstances. It wishes to thank all its clients for their loyalty and continuous support during these difficult times.

Air Malta and the Union of Cabin Crew


Air Malta issued a statement to explain the ongoing industrial challenges it faces with the Union of Cabin Crew (UCC) after proposals were put forward by the company. The said proposals had ensured that all its members were guaranteed a minimum social take home pay, even when its members would end up unproductive staying at home, because of the reduced schedule as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company had given UCC multiple deadlines (out of genuine goodwill to reach an agreement) to accept the company’s proposals, but no confirmation was forthcoming and for no justifiable reason. The Airline was today informed through a communication sent by the UCC that 90% of the votes counted were in favour of the proposal given by the company. It is regretful that only after the unavoidable process of redundancies notified to the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations (DIER) was initiated, that the UCC decided to put the company’s proposal to a vote. Considering the UCC’s intransigence during previous discussions aimed at avoiding redundancies, the trust between the union and the company has been severely dented. The company is not confident that the UCC will cooperate as required and is concerned that the company might be in the same position in four weeks’ time when the proposals would have to be reviewed with the DIER. The company noted that the UCC executive committee had primarily voted to not allow its members to voice an opinion on the airline’s proposal. The vote today accepting to implement certain measures proposed to the Unions for a four week period is no longer sufficient to give the company the reassurances it requires. The UCC was informed that a longer-term solution is required, from both ALPA and the UCC, for the company to have the peace of mind that it will not find itself in the same position, or worse, in a matter of weeks or months. Therefore, out of respect for the employees represented by the union, the company is willing to utilise the remainder of the consultation period to discuss and agree on a deep process of restructuring of a permanent nature intended to achieve a package which will ensure that the company can survive the post COVID period and be sustainable and viable going forward. Only through a comprehensive permanent agreement with all the unions will the company feel it has the required assurances to reconsider its position.


Panaxia Is Preparing for European Sales: Announces an Agreement for Temporary Use Rights in an R&D Facility in Malta for the Commercial Production and Marketing of Its European Cannabis Products in Europe


Dr. Dadi Segal, Panaxia CEO: "Using the Malta facility is a significant stepping stone as we enter the European market. We believe this makes Panaxia the first company in Israel in the field of medicinal cannabis to begin selling in the EU. We are in progressive stages of registering and certifying our advanced products – starting in Germany and Denmark and other countries to follow. We aim forward to realize Panaxia's vision to bring our patients in Israel as well as new patients in Europe a broad variety of advanced reproducible and safer medicinal cannabis products, meeting groundbreaking pharmaceutical standards not currently found in the market."

Pharmaceutical company Panaxia Labs Israel Ltd. (Panaxia Israel) (TASE: PNAX), the largest manufacturer of medical cannabis products in Israel, announced today its contractual agreement with the holder of controlling interest, Panaxia Pharmaceutical Industries, to use the research and development of the holder of controlling interest in Malta for the production and extraction the company's advanced products (such as oils, inhalers, sublingual tablets, suppositories) designated for the European market.

The agreement allows Panaxia to use the Maltese R&D facility and commence its European activity. The Maltese operations are expected to commence within a few months, subject to complete conversion of the facility into a commercial facility meeting the requirements of the EU-GMP standard and the receipt regulatory approvals from the Maltese government. By that, to the best of the company's knowledge, it shall become the first medicinal cannabis company in Israel to commercially manufacture and sell medical cannabis products in EU countries.

The Maltese facility to be operated by Panaxia is ready to extract cannabis inflorescence. It has the capacity of producing several hundred thousand products annually, which will join the ensemble of products already manufactured in Israel.

At first, the company is expected to begin its operations in the German and Maltese markets. The company has announced that is in the process of registering its products in additional European countries, which, once complete, will allow it to manufacture its products in the Maltese facility and market them in additional countries.

Dr. Dadi Segal, Panaxia CEO, stated: "Using the Malta manufacturing facility is a significant stepping stone as we enter the European market. We believe this makes Panaxia the first company in Israel in the field of medicinal cannabis to begin selling in the EU. We are in progressive stages of registering and certifying our advanced products and contracting distribution and marketing agreements – first in Germany and Denmark and then in other countries. In line with our strategic plans, in recent months we have emphasized massive preparation work geared towards our European expansion. Starting our manufacturing and marketing activities through the Maltese facility allows us to shorten our time to market with high quality products that meet the most rigorous standards, developed based on the international R&D capabilities of Panaxia. We aim forward to realize Panaxia's vision to bring our patients in Israel as well new patients in Europe abroad variety of advanced reproducible and safer medicinal cannabis products, meeting groundbreaking pharmaceutical standards not currently found in the market."

About Panaxia Israel 

Panaxia Labs Israel, Ltd. is a publicly traded company at TASE (TASE: PNAX). It is the largest Israeli manufacturer and home-delivery distributor of medical cannabis products, and the first to have received the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Health for the manufacturing of medicinal cannabis based pharmaceuticals (under the IMC-GMP directive). The company manufactures over 30 hemp-based medicinal products and has accumulated a broad foundation of clinical experience based on tens of thousands of patients.

Panaxia is part of the Segal Pharma Group, owned by the Segal family and founded over forty years ago. The company manufactures over 600 different pharmaceutical products that are distributed in over 40 countries worldwide. Panaxia Labs Israel is a subsidiary of Panaxia Pharmaceutical Industries, co-founded by Dr. Dadi Segal, Dr. Eran Goldberg, and Assi Rotbart, Adv. as the cannabis division of the Segal Pharma Group. A sister subsidiary, Panaxia US, manufactures in North America over 60 hemp-based medicinal products, including sublingual tablets, lozenges, oils, and inhalators aimed for the treatment of conditions such as PTSD, cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, anorexia, burns, and many other ailments. Panaxia Group has over 150 employees, and all clinical trials are conducted by its members.

The Segal Pharma Group additionally owns Luminera Derm, manufacturer of injectable dermal fillers, and Tree of Life Pharma, manufacturer of over-the-counter drugs. For more information, visit the Panaxia website at: https://panaxia.co.il/

HSBC Malta introduces measures to support businesses affected by Coronavirus















HSBC Malta has introduced a number of measures to support businesses which may be negatively affected by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These measures, which have already come into effect for those businesses which meet HSBC Malta’s credit criteria, include: capital repayment holidays; fee free temporary short-term working capital funding; faster turnaround on issuance of shipping guarantees and the waiver of urgency fees; as well as the waiver of amendment fees on Letters of Credit impacted by delays.


Joyce Grech, Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC Malta said, “The outbreak of the Coronavirus is having a significant impact on the global economy and, of course, Malta is also being affected. Throughout this challenging period, particularly for businesses in certain sectors, HSBC Malta is determined to do what it can to provide the support our customers need. As the situation develops, HSBC Malta will continue to monitor the situation and to assess what further measures may be necessary.”


HSBC Malta commercial customers who feel they require support due to the impact of the Novel Coronavirus on their business, are asked to contact their Relationship Manager, who will be able to provide guidance on the next steps. Each request for support will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Further information is available here: https://www.business.hsbc.com.mt/en-gb/mt/generic/important-announcement




For the safety and well-being of all our players and the general public and in terms of the Legal Notice 76 of 2020 published on Tuesday 17th March 2020 regarding the closure of places open to public including ALL Retail Gaming Establishments, Maltco Lotteries Ltd. shall be suspending the operation of its points of sale with immediate effect which will remain closed as from today Wednesday 18th March 2020 and until a further communication will be issued.

Participation in Maltco Games

In view of this, the company is issuing a set of guidelines aimed at informing Maltco Lotteries players about their participation in active draws as approved by the Malta Gaming Authority. 

Lottery Draws: As a result, the Super 5 (Draw 819) which was scheduled for this evening, as well as Friday’s SUPERSTAR (Draw 77) and Saturday’s Lotto & Quaterno+ (Draw 820) will be suspended and postponed to a later date. However, purchased tickets for any of these draws, will remain valid for when these draws are resumed.

U*BET: Any bets placed for events happening after this date are still considered as valid. Bet settlement and payment of winnings will be possible once the operation is resumed. In case an event is cancelled or postponed, the existing refund rules will apply.

Other Games: Sale of all additional Maltco games including Quick Keno, Bingo75 and Scratchers will also be suspended and will resume once resuming the operation. 

Consecutive Draws: Consecutive Draw tickets will remain valid for the respective draw numbers as stated on the tickets and will be held once the operation is resumed.

Payment of Winnings

Payment of tickets shall be also suspended and will be made available again once the operation is resumed. As directed by the Malta Gaming Authority, the cashing period of 60 days for winning tickets will be extended to 90 days. Furthermore, the period for claiming winnings may be extended further if required, as circumstances develop. 

This communication will remain in force until further notice. Maltco Lotteries will be informing the general public in the event of any changes announced by the authorities.  

For more information you may email info@maltco.net  visit the company’s website, social media pages or call Maltco’s Helpline on 23883333 which will remain open during the suspension period.



Maltco Lotteries, a modern and dynamic company established in 2003, holds the latest Licence and Concession to operate the National Lottery of Malta awarded in 2012. Maltco Lotteries provides high-quality, innovative and entertaining games (including lotteries, sports-betting, fast games and instant games) under the auspices of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). Players can enjoy a friendly, secure and fun environment in the Maltco Points of Sale, participating in their favourite games, assisted by the well-trained in high client service Maltco Lotteries Agents.

Maltco Lotteries has invested in the state-of-the-art gaming technology and services of INTRALOT; guaranteeing security, trustworthiness, transparency and a superior gaming experience. Certified in Responsible Gaming, ISO/IEC 27001:2013 and Security Control Standard (WLA SCS) by the European Lotteries and the World Lottery Association, Maltco Lotteries ensures the safest gaming environment through its Agents’ retail network, the largest one in Malta and Gozo, maintaining the leading position in the market. Maltco Lotteries has and exceptional track record in Corporate Social Responsibility, with continuous support to the Governmental Good Causes Fund and numerous Maltese charitable causes alongside the sponsoring of the local sports and athletes, sustaining the Maltese Society, Culture and Well-being.

Air Malta to suspend all commercial flights


  • Departing after 2359UTC on Friday 20th March, until further notice
  • On order of the Malta’s Health Authorities Following a decision by the Maltese Health Authorities,


Malta is banning all commercial travel to Malta for flights departing after 2359UTC on Friday 20th March, until further notice. This measure was taken to contain the spread of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. The ban does not apply to ferry, cargo and humanitarian and repatriation or special flights. Air Malta shall operate such flights as directed by the Government of Malta. Air Malta customers affected by this ban have the following options: 1) Maltese Nationals affected from this travel ban and who are currently outside Malta need to contact the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs Office. Residents can contact this office on +356 22042200 or by email on sitcen.mfea@gov.mt. The Ministry will be organising repatriation flights. 2) Non-Maltese Nationals need to contact their respective Embassies. 3) Customers who were to start their trip within the next 48 hours and have queries about their tickets can contact the Airline’s call centre on +356 25991230. 4) Customers who will not be travelling within the next 48 hours and all other passengers that require refunds can send an email to refundrequest@airmalta.com. Air Malta will keep its customers updated through its website www.airmalta.com and social media channels including www.facebook.com/AirMalta/.

Air Malta advises customers to check entry requirements before travel


As many regulations are changing rapidly Air Malta urges its passengers to check the last status on entry and travel requirements and restrictions specially for their final destination before commencing travel. Over the last few days many countries have introduced restrictions on travel, changing entry requirements to contain the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. These restrictions include an outright ban on entry of foreign nationals, suspension of visas, requirements to hold medical certificates, declarations that certain countries have not been visited in the past 14 days and others. Entry requirements keep changing. Passengers who are not fully compliant with entry requirements risk being sent back to the originating country. Passengers are strongly advised to check the entry requirements of their final destination, ensure that they have the correct documentation and continuously update themselves with the latest changes and be compliant therewith to avoid refusal of entry.

Air Malta Announces More Repatriation Flights – Organises return flight to Madrid


Air Malta is continuing to assist the Maltese Government to organise repatriation flights to bring home Maltese nationals and residents following the ban on travel. This measure was taken to contain the spread of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. Following are the flight details to be operated by Air Malta for next Sunday 15 th March 2020:


Maltese Nationals and residents affected from this travel ban and who are currently outside Malta need to contact this number: +356 22042200 or by email on sitcen.mfea@gov.mt. If so directed, the customers need to call Air Malta on +356 21691909 to confirm their travel arrangements. It is imperative that unless directed by the Government of Malta, Air Malta will not be in a position to confirm and process any travel arrangements. The Airline is constantly in touch with various Authorities and is closely monitoring the evolving situation. It will announce any changes as the need arises. Air Malta will be keeping its customers updated through its website www.airmalta.com and social media channels including www.facebook.com/AirMalta/.

Air Malta to Organise Repatriation Flight from Rome tomorrow


Air Malta is organising a repatriation flight tomorrow Monday 16th March to transport critical medical supplies and repatriate passengers from Rome to Malta. Maltese Nationals and residents affected from this travel ban and who are currently outside Malta need to contact this number: +356 22042200, email on sitcen.mfea@gov.mt or contact the Maltese Embassy in Rome to confirm their travel arrangements. The flight details are as follows:


Air Malta will be keeping its customers updated through its website www.airmalta.com and social media channels including www.facebook.com/AirMalta/.

Air Malta Assists the Government of Malta to Organise Repatriation Flights – Announces Three Repatriation Flights For Next Saturday


Air Malta is assisting the Maltese Government to organise repatriation flights to bring home Maltese nationals and residents following the ban on travel between Malta, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Spain.

This measure was taken to contain the spread of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. Flights from these countries have been suspended until further notice.

Minister for Economy, Investment and Small Businesses responsible for Air Malta, Silvio Schembri, thanked Air Malta for its collaboration in working with the Ministry to operate chartered flights to the mentioned destinations to bring back home stranded Maltese citizens. “I thank all of Air Malta’s staff dedication and commitment at such delicate times. It is at times like these when one sees the importance of having a national airline,” said Minister Schembri.


Maltese Nationals and residents affected from this travel ban and who are currently outside Malta need to contact this number: +356 22042200 or by email on sitcen.mfea@gov.mt. If so directed, the

Air Malta’s first flight took off on 1st April 1974. The airline has been instrumental in opening up and connecting Malta to the rest of the world, diversifying and presenting new tourism market opportunities to and from the islands.

Customers need to call Air Malta on +356 21691909 to confirm their travel arrangements.

It is imperative that unless directed by the Government of Malta, Air Malta will not be in a position to confirm and process any travel arrangements.

The Airline is constantly in touch with various Authorities and is closely monitoring the evolving situation. It will announce any changes as the need arises.

Air Malta will be keeping its customers updated through its website www.airmalta.com and social media channels including www.facebook.com/AirMalta/.

FIMBank Supports Beating Hearts Foundation ​


FIMBank has recently sponsored Beating Hearts, an independent non-profit foundation established primarily to support the needs of parents having children born with a congenital heart defect. 

Due to the Bank’s continued support, FIMBank was provided with a set of high-quality prints, revolving around the Tale of Two Cities theme, which consist of the photographic pairing of two selected cities. The Bank was provided with the pairings of Malta-New York and Malta-Manchester as collages. 

As a sign of appreciation towards the Bank’s contributions to this foundation, the President, Prof. Victor Grech signed the prints during an event organised by FIMBank. 

“The noble work of the Beating Hearts foundation is indeed endorsed by FIMBank. Prof. Victor Grech’s work and consistent effort to make a direct and positive impact on people who suffer from a congenital heart defect is indeed commendable. We look forward to supporting further initiatives undertaken by Beating Hearts” said Jason Zammit, Senior Vice President, Head of Marketing. 

“FIMBank’s consistent support and assistance in our mission is highly appreciated. We have found FIMBank to be very willing in aiding us with our cause and it is thanks to such contributions that we can continue making inroads to help people with congenital heart defects” said Prof. Victor Grech. 

For further information about FIMBank, please visit www.fimbank.com 


Samsonite unveils the next generation of lightweight, secure polypropylene luggage

Samsonite continues to challenge the industry with its continued focus on innovation, to bring forward products that suit the trends and needs of how we travel. For the launch of its new Magnum™ suitcase, the market leader draws on its extensive experience and know-how in polypropylene luggage manufacturing to create the lightest framed polypropylene case in its class. Made in Belgium, this pioneering collection marks an unequalled fusion of lightness, durability, design and the most secure 3-point locking system.


Security meets a new era of lightness

The three-point locking system, launched as a Samsonite patented innovation in 1986, has continued to evolve over the last 30 years, offering travellers even greater security, practical travel use and facilitated opening and closing than ever before. Made in Europe and developed in-house at Samsonite by the world’s best luggage engineers and designers, the Magnum collection now combines the safety of three-point locking with an impressive weight advantage, unparalleled in its class. The Magnum Spinner 75 weighs less than 4kg, which is exceptional for a framed polypropylene suitcase, combining all the benefits of a framed luggage with the weight advantage of a zipped suitcase. This is thanks to a new revolutionary AEROBUST™ injection method and construction.


Made in Europe, a highly appreciated quality label

In today’s society, we are ever more conscious about the quality of the products we purchase, calling for greater transparency and pushing for durable options. With the new Magnum collection, Samsonite continues to invest strongly in its Belgian production and manufacturing base through innovative engineering. For the production of the Magnum collection, the factory uses robots and new production techniques along with more automated processes. The suitcase has been innovatively engineered with snap-fit components which allow for a smooth and sustainable assembly process. Eventually, looking at the future, this will open up new opportunities for customization, but without a compromise on efficiency.

Its intelligent, minimalist and sleek design allows for complete component integration. Not only from a functional perspective as all components are fully integrated for optimum ease and protection, but also from a design view as the texture runs through the components. With the introduction of Magnum, security meets a new ear of lightness with an impressive weight of less than four kg for a spinner 75, unparalleled in its kind.


A true family collection

Designed with young families in mind, this lightweight suitcase offers great protection, maximum packing space and many practical features allowing you to travel with confidence. Thanks to the many features, you can pack efficiently and keep everything wrinkle-free and organised. The suitcase comes with a fully lined (removable) interior, including an in height adjustable divider pad in the bottom compartment, in height adjustable cross ribbons in the top compartment and a large U-shaped pocket.

The suitcase comes with a double tube pull handle, double wheels, featuring a practical top and side carry handle on all sizes.

The Magnum collection is available in three sizes (Spinner 55, 69 and 75) and including a soft ‘Millennial Pink’ and a more traditional Dark Blue


About Samsonite

Founded in 1910, Samsonite is the world’s leading luggage brand with an extensive legacy in trendsetting travel solutions. Renowned for breakthrough research, development and its commitment to innovation, Samsonite has excelled since its inception in a number of industry firsts. Samsonite offers an extensive range of travel, business, kids, casual and personal accessory products. Samsonite helps travelers journey further, with ever-lighter and stronger products. 



IPL publish 22nd edition of Malta Hotels Directory

Introduces Google plus codes


The 2020 edition of the Malta Hotels Directory, published by Island Publications is now available.

This is the 22nd edition of the directory that was first published in 1999.

The directory is produced by Mosta-based Island Publications on behalf of the Malta Tourism Authority and is the official accommodation listing for the islands. It is available at all key international travel shows and fairs the MTA exhibits at, from MTA bureaux abroad and all its PR agents dotted around the world and, of course, locally from the authority’s information offices.

The 112-page directory lists all licensed hotels, tourist villages (well, there’s just one), guest houses and hostels on the islands.

This edition also includes another first in local publishing – Google plus codes. These work just like street addresses; when an address isn’t available or is too long, one can use a plus code to find or share a place on Google Maps.

A plus code combines two elements; a code of six or seven letters and numbers and the name of the locality.

By way of an example, the code for St John’s Co-Cathedral is VGX6+2X Valletta. (To find a location using plus codes open Google Maps on a desktop computer, smartphone or tablet. At the top, tap the search box and type the plus code.)

In 2012 the hotels directory was the first locally produced title to introduce QR codes alongside entries. 

Meantime, “it is heartening to see that in this digital age, there is still a need and want for a traditionally-produced version of this directory,” says IPL publisher Terence Mirabelli.

Hard copies of the Malta Hotels Directory 2020 are available from the MTA and may also be downloaded from the authority’s site (www.visitmalta.com/en/hotels).


MEA points at ‘Disillusionment in National Institutions’, proposes Parliamentary Reform 


 The Malta Employers’ Association presented a position paper with proposals for parliamentary reform to Minister Carmelo Abela, Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister during a meeting held at the MEA premises. During this meeting, a number of topics were discussed, among them the state of social dialogue in Malta, issues affecting the labour market and industrial relations, mandatory union membership and the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. 

The paper presented by MEA voices its concern about a growing sense of: ‘disillusionment in our institutions. Politicians are seen as crooked or incompetent; the business community is perceived as corrupt; our justice system feared as being selective and manipulated. This distrust in our institutions is also eating away at our core values, with many believing that you cannot make headway in life through honest means’. 

The Association sees the restructuring of parliament as ‘a critical means through which other equally important reforms might be implemented to restore a sense of normality and to safeguard against a reoccurrence of the current state of affairs.’ 

In essence, the paper proposes a leaner parliament with 45 fulltime members and a maximum of 8 Ministers. MPs will be paid at €55k per annum, Parliamentary secretaries at €65k per annum and Ministers at 85k annum. The Prime Minister’s remuneration will be €110k per annum. MPs will not be able to occupy any position with government entities, nor have interest in private sector companies which can create a conflict of interest with their duties as MPs. 

In addition, the paper also addresses the engagement of persons on positions of trust and party financing. The Association is recommending that the number of such persons should be limited to no more than 3 persons per ministry, and that there will be full disclosure of their contracts and duties. 

On party financing, MEA said that there should be a transition to partially state funded political parties, and that corporate donations and door to door collections will be strictly prohibited. Affiliated to the International Organisation of Employers (I.O.E.), Business European Capital Cities (BECC), European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (C.E.E.P.) and BUSINESSMED The MEA stressed that these recommendations are meant to contribute to a more comprehensive exercise to restore faith in Malta’s institutions by the general public and internationally, warning that in the absence of reform, a relapse into a series of scandals and corrupt practices, would be catastrophic for Malta. 


Click here to download the full text of the paper. 


BDO’s strategy accelerates the organisation’s financial growth

year on year, with global revenues topping € 8.5 billion for

YE 30 September 2019


•    10.1%* increase in global revenues – up from + 8.3% in 2018 - cements BDO’s position as fastest-growing global organisation

     in the profession over the last 10 years

•    Focus on leadership ambition is delivering: a combination of significant organic growth and strong M&A activity

•    BDO’s 88,000+ professionals worldwide are readily embracing future-oriented technology, transforming BDO’s client service

     approach by applying skills and insights with a digital mindset

•    An innovation-first approach is driving business efficiency and value for clients

•    Focused market efforts and strategic M&A activity are helping to establish BDO as leaders in their chosen markets

*at constant exchange rates


BRUSSELS, 5 December 2019: BDO announces a total combined fee income** of US$ 9.6 billion /

€ 8.5 billion, for the year ended 30 September 2019, representing a year on year growth of 10.1% at constant exchange rates (+12.8% in euro; +6.9% in US$).


At year-end 2018, global CEO Keith Farlinger stated that his dream for BDO – focused on the concept It’s time for BDO to lead - is one of a people organisation that delivers innovation and value every day. As Keith himself puts it: “My ambition for BDO is to be a global organisation of leaders. We are one organisation, united under a common cause”.


In 2019, all BDO firms are actively embracing the global dream and bringing it to life in their day-to-day business. The organisation’s fundamental reason for being is outlined in its WHY, or purpose: People helping people achieve their dreams. This shapes how BDO people work with their clients, support their colleagues and interact with their communities.

**Including BDO’s exclusive alliances


One of the benefits of having a clearly stated WHY is reflected in the organisation’s consistent expansion in headcount, which is up 10% this year to 88,120 people: inspired by the WHY, people want to work for BDO. Working out of 1,809 offices worldwide, they are available to support clients as they grow and wherever they conduct their business.


Now  represented  in  167  countries  and  territories,  the  Americas  remains  the  organisation’s largest region @ 52.7%, with EMEA @ 34.9% and Asia Pacific @ 12.4%. BDO’s impressive growth is evident across all regions, with the strongest revenue increase in the Americas (+15.7%). The EMEA region also performed well (+12.9%), while in the Asia Pacific region, several firms have evidenced spectacular growth.


Audit & assurance remains BDO’s largest service line, bringing in 42.4% of revenues. This figure is less than in 2018, as advisory and business services & outsourcing have increased their contribution, @ 21.2% and 15.4% respectively. Tax services income remains similar to last year, @ 21.1%.


Strategic approach delivers financial strength:



BDO firms  aim to  be  leaders in  their  markets and  as these markets  are  subject to  continual technological transformation, the organisation continues to diversify in order to provide new digital solutions. This allows BDO to bring its clients insight and opportunities.


This approach is empowered by strategic merger activity and relevant business-critical acquisitions - in cybersecurity and digital solutions, for example. Firms such as BDO in Austria and in Belgium have made bold moves in acquiring other future-fit services. In 2019, key mergers included BDO in Australia merging with boutique cloud accounting and business advisory firm Consolid8, and one of BDO’s biggest-ever mergers with Moore Stephens in the UK. The firm in the USA continues to be BDO’s merger leader, having acquired customs and international trade practice Global Trade Strategies Inc. in Atlanta and crisis management and business continuity consulting and technology firm Lootok in New York, among others. A plethora of smaller, equally important acquisitions have been seen worldwide, such as that with Grant Thornton in South Africa, to name just one.


Individual firms’ strong organic growth has also helped to strengthen several important local market leadership positions across all regions. In Australia, Chile, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Romania, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, for example, BDO firms have all seen double-digit growth.


Choosing to lead in INNOVATION

BDO sees innovation driving value for clients and improving business efficiency and profitability. BDO’s culture of innovation is spear-headed by the increasingly influential BDO Innovation Hub, which promotes innovative projects and encourages collaboration. It has accelerated the co-creation of new ideas and the development of products, services and tools which benefit both clients and BDO firms.


Some of the innovation highlights that are available for the benefit of BDO firms include the Danish firm’s BDO Business Inspection tool, which helps companies to understand whether they are spending too great a proportion of their revenue on salaries and administration costs

- as well as how their spend compares to the competition. Tycoon has been developed by BDO in New Zealand, which has recognised the power of using gamification for employer branding and recruitment purposes and is currently rolling out their cloud-based, app-enabled business simulation game across all 370 secondary schools in the country. BDO in the Netherlands’ Security Sensor is for use by clients: a powerful deterrent to cyber threats, it can be employed both virtually and physically at various levels in a client’s organisation.


The shining example in BDO’s drive for innovation is their bespoke software, APT Next Gen. Working in collaboration with Microsoft, BDO has invested heavily in designing a globally scalable and secure platform. APT NG includes all the digitally enabled processes, methodologies and connected platforms to meet BDO partners’ and their clients’ specific business needs. This enables them to create new ways to interact and work together. At the time of writing, +/- 22,500 unique users have been onboarded to the tool, with 14,500 using it in the last 30 days alone. Also, in the last 30 days, APT has handled in excess of 1.291 billion backend requests. The total number of client engagements so far created within it, meanwhile, has topped 55,000 and its storage capacity now stands at 603 Terabytes for documents and 52 TB for databases.


Microsoft themselves have stated that APT Next Gen is a modern, digitally founded platform that allows BDO to amplify the relationship between technology and data in the audit context: “BDO’s APT Next Gen is pure digital transformation in action. This global, connected platform is highly adaptive and flexible, with cloud, data and intelligence at its core”. Kristin Johnsen, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Services.


Powered by leading technology, APT and other BDO platforms such as the Global Portal and Digital Suite are driving efficiency, streamlining the exchange of information and ensuring an improved digital experience and enhanced data analytics capabilities.


Choosing to lead as ADVISERS OF THE FUTURE

BDO’s people make the difference – and they are embracing AI and technology to improve the service and value they can create for their clients. There has been a strong focus on enhancing the digital quotient (DQ) mindset of all our 88,000-plus professionals: but the importance of human interaction has not been neglected. The BDO difference lies in remaining a people business, one that combines digital skills with relationships built on trust and a deep understanding of clients. BDO people share a common objective: the proactive creation and implementation of business solutions and creating value for our clients.


Global CEO Keith Farlinger comments: “This year, all BDO firms have evidenced the power of sharing the same global dream as leaders, proactively advising our clients with future-oriented solutions. In creating new ways to interact with our clients and with each other, we are shaping ourselves for the BDO of tomorrow.






BDO Malta exhibiting at ICE London – the world’s largest

gaming expo

BDO Malta will be once again exhibiting on stand N7-412 at ICE London between the 4th and 6th February at Excel, London. The theme for this year’s expo is ‘Step into the future’.


ICE London is recognised as the world’s largest gaming expo and will be taking place over three days with an estimated 35,000 delegates showing up for the expo. ICE London provides an opportunity to discover the latest in gaming innovation across all sectors. Over 150 countries will be represented at the show floor, offering an unrivalled and global platform to find new business and partnership opportunities.


BDO Malta, as leaders in the Gaming Advisory field, will be exhibiting for the duration of the event. BDO Malta is licenced to conduct MGA Systems and Compliance Audits for gaming companies as well as MDIA Systems Audits for gaming operators seeking to use Virtual Financial Assets to make and receive payments within their gaming operations.

Senior members of BDO’s Gaming Advisory team will be at the BDO Malta stand ready to assist in licensing, regulatory, compliance, tax and technology amongst other areas. We are also happy to discuss blockchain, Virtual Financial Assets (VFA) and other professional services provided by the Firm.


Gaming sectors which will be covered during this conference include betting, bingo, casino, lottery, mobile, online, payments, social, sports betting and street. Moreover, there are also several networking events throughout the three-day event.


Malta is regarded as the world capital for iGaming companies. The industry regulator - the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) – offers two licenses for operators, B2B and B2C.


Mark Attard, Partner and Chief Executive Officer at BDO Malta stated, “One of our values at BDO is helping people succeed. This is what we intend to achieve at ICE London, help new and existing gaming operators succeed in their business. The current gaming regulation positions Malta as a jurisdiction of choice for any entrepreneur seeking to maximise on business incentives in a well-regulated jurisdiction. ICE London is a great showcase for BDO and Malta.”


BDO Malta has built a dedicated team of Gaming experts, bringing together a range of business, legal and technology advisory skills.


For more information about Gaming services offered by BDO Malta or to set-up a meeting at ICE London, please contact us on g aming@bdo.com.mt or visit: https://www.bdo.com.mt/en-gb/industries/remote-gaming/igaming-services




About BDO

Forming part of the global BDO network, BDO Malta provides end-to-end corporate and business advisory services, assisting companies in driving their business towards further growth. BDO is represented in 165 countries and territories, with over 88,000 people in over 1,600 offices worldwide. With over 40 years of practice in Malta, the Firm assists clients across a wide range of industries, supported by solid technical expertise, deep market insights and an international business mind-set plugged into the BDO global network.


For further information, please contact: Carl Saydon

T: 23424266

E: carl.saydon@bdo.com.mt



Go Ventures to fund E 2 million for Tech Startup​ 

GO has started plans to launch the €2million Tech Startup Fund, after setting up the governance and logistical structures for the Fund, establishing connections and meeting potential candidates 


“Although we have a very strong telecommunications and IT infrastructure, we also realise that one of the ways for us to continue driving innovation is to partner with dynamic entrepreneurs in the digital domain. We also want to be among the first corporates to join the budding community of angel investors in Malta.  This is what spurred the idea of investing in local and international startup”, Nikhil Patil, CEO of GO stated during the launch of ‘GO Ventures’, GO’s €2 million Tech Startup Fund, in the presence of Mr Silvio Schembri, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation and other stakeholders in the Maltese innovation and tech start-up ecosystem.

“We are pleasantly surprised with the feedback we have received so far.  It is encouraging indeed and confirms that there is a huge demand for this project. In fact, once we announced this Fund, things immediately started shaking up and since then, we have been actively following up on a number of pitches we received and started discussing a few interesting prospects,” added Mr Patil.

Stefan Briffa, who is leading the GO Ventures project, gave a high-level overview of how the Tech Startup Fund will work. He explained that the GO Ventures investment package being made available includes cash, spacious co-working space in B’Kara, GO’s full suite of telecom and cloud services, access to markets and networks and mentoring. He added that GO Ventures will focus mainly on startups in the fields of artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, internet of things, cybersecurity, blockchain, fintech and related areas. 

“Today, Malta offers many services to startup, however, they face a common problem in finding enough local sources of financing and investment. The ‘GO Ventures’ Tech Startup Fund will help address this challenge and by working with like-minded partners, GO wants to help foster a Maltese ecosystem of investment in innovation,” explained Nikhil Patil.

 “Most importantly, we want to lend our experience in growing businesses by investing in startup that demonstrate tangible potential in areas that are of interest to our business.   We also see this project as a vehicle to deliver yet more value to our shareholders and stakeholders,” he concluded.



New CEO for Burmarrad Group: Sharon Camilleri 


Burmarrad Group is pleased to announce that Sharon Camilleri has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer. 


The appointment took effect on the 9th of October and was met with unanimous support by the team. Amongst her colleagues, Sharon is known for her dedication to bettering Burmarrad Group over the years, focusing her energies not only on the group's portfolio of clients but also as a workplace. 


Her assistance and leadership style helped develop the business to be the market leader that it is today; and with this in mind, the directors and managers at Burmarrad Group is excited to see the direction Sharon will be taking the company as its new CEO. 


Prior to her appointment to CEO, Sharon Camilleri held the position of executive director at the family-run firm. Since a very young age, Sharon has been highly involved with the operations and management of Burmarrad Group, founded by her father Mario Gauci back in 1984. 

Sharon Camilleri joined the family business in 1994 as an administration and sales executive, moving up to executive director for the sales, purchasing and leasing departments. She is now responsible for driving the strategic growth and development of the group across all business sectors. 


Burmarrad Group specialises in leasing, rentals, sales and servicing for all types of vehicles. Approved repairers for Peugeot and Citroen as well as official distributors and service partners for Carrier Transicold, Chereau bodies, Dhollandia Tail – Lifts, Pegaso Lifts and Piaggio Commercial Vehicles. Diversification was always the Company’s forte, and all subsequent business ventures were taken with one goal in mind: to develop Burmarrad Group as a player in the automotive industry and real estate. The company is ISO9001:2015 certified since 2008 and employs over 65 personnel.


Maltco Lotteries publishes its CSR Publication 2018/19​


Maltco Lotteries publishes its Corporate Social Responsibility Publication covering July 2018 to June 2019, which highlights actions taken regarding the company’s four key pillars: Responsible Gaming, Sports, Charity and Retail. 


The Publication gives a detailed insight on the CSR initiatives undertaken by the company during the aforementioned period. This includes; the company’s efforts towards promoting and applying the Responsible Gaming principles in favour of the player, sponsorships to support local sport athletes and events as well as the contributions made to local charities. Retail initiatives and agents’ continuous training are also part of Maltco Lotteries’ main annual focus. 


A copy of this publication can be obtained from the company’s official website under the Corporate section. 

For further information email info@maltco.net, visit the Maltco website www.maltco.com or call 23883000.

MBR participates at the EMP Fest, on Oct. 18th

We at MBR are ready to participate with our stand in this important event,  which we are also sponsoring, that it is going to be organised concurrently during the SMEs National Forum, in the Oracle hall foyer/ syndicate rooms  at the Dolmen Hotel – Qawra, between 8.00am-3.30pm. 


This year's event, is being organised in collaboration with the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, MEAINDEX, and the Ministry for Education and Employment. 


In this Event you can find a number of elite speakers that will be sharing their knowledge and experiences on topics related to employment in Malta, particularly focusing on SMEs.


Hon Christian Cardona - Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses, Hon Evarist Bartolo - Minister for Education and Employment, Isabelle Maquet - Deputy Head of Unit B4 responsible for Malta and Spain at DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission. Joseph Farrugia Director General MEA, Dolores Sammut Bonnici current MEA President, Dana Farrugia- CEO Tech.mt Foundation, and Dr Anne Marie Thake – Head of Public Policy, University of Malta are amongst the main speakers who will be addressing the participants.

Main Panel Discussion “How SMEs are expected to handle employability in a quasi-full employment scenario?”

 3 Separate Symposia,

“Sustainable Employment Through Education”

“Employment in a fast-changing Demographics scenario”

“Employment Strategy and its ripple effect on the Economy.”


The Event will come to an end with a Networking Lunch and an EMPfest whereby more than 20 entities coming from government and commercial businesses will be present, offering services and assistance to all those present.


This is a National Event supported by PwC Malta, Corporate Dispatch and Dolmen Hotel and sponsored by BOV, Tech.mt, Malta Enterprise, Jobsplus, Identity Malta Agency, GCS recruitment Agency and Zaffarese Group.

For further details and registration email to anton.vella@maltaemployers.com. 



See more 


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Maltco supports European Week of Sport for the fifth consecutive year​

For the fifth consecutive year, Maltco Lotteries will be supporting SportMalta and will be once again participating in the European Week of Sport. The aim behind the European Week of Sport is that of promoting participation in sport and physical activity whilst raising awareness on the benefits of being active and participating in some sort of physical activity.


For the 5th edition of the European Week of Sport, Maltco will be donating 5 Indoor Rowing Machines to SportMalta. Following the European Week of Sport, the machines will be utilised by SportMalta and thus the general public will benefit from this donation.


Apart from this generous donation, Maltco Lotteries will be also partnering up with SportMalta and will be once again organising the Maltco Indoor Rowing Challenge. This event will be one of the main activities of the #BeActive night organised at Kirkop Sports Complex on Saturday 28th September. 


The Maltco Indoor Rowing Challenge is open for everyone. There are different categories based on age and gender. Individuals placing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in their category will be awarded a medal during the medal presentation held during the same event. The challenge is free of charge and will be held between 19:00hrs and 21:00 hrs. Anyone interested in taking part must fill in and submit the form to SportMalta before or on the day of the event. 


People attending the #BeActive night, have also the opportunity to participate in different sports such as: badminton, teqball, pickleball, table soccer, table tennis and subbuteo. Fitness classes and a weightlifting competition will be also organised. The #BeActive night will finish with a Zumba party which will be held from 23:00hrs to midnight.


For further information email info@maltco.net, visit the Maltco website www.maltco.com or call 23883000.

Operatic and Symphony          

Celebrity Concert - OMAGGIO A GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813-1901)


The Societa’ Filarmonica Nazionale La Valette of Valletta will be presenting a special Operatic and Symphony Band Concert entitled Omaggio a Giuseppe Verdi /Tribute to Giuseppe Verdi, encompassing overtures,arias,duettos and choir selections from Verdi’s repertoire.


The La Valette Symphony Band is marking the 145th anniversary of its foundation and the 92nd anniversary of its historical victory at the International Bands Competition held in Como,Italy.


It will be held on Saturday 9 November 2019 at 7.30pm, Auditorium,Catholic Institute, Floriana.

The Como Concert is under the distinguished patronage of HE Dr George Vella,President of Malta.


Renowned Tenor Kaludi Kaludov from Bulgaria and Soprano Anna Dytry from Poland will perform arias and duettos from Verdi’s major operas. —- La Traviata, Aida, Rigoletto,Il Trovatore,La Forza del destino.  The Coro Bel Canto will perform selections from Nabucco,La Traviata, Aida, Il Trovatore.


Kaludi  Kaludov from Sofia, Bulgaria, enjoys a highly successful international career having performed at the La Scala of Milan; and various opera houses of Trieste, Genova, Paris,Buenos Aires,Chicago and Houston in the USA, Berlin and Hamburg in Germany,and Vienna; he distinguished himself in Verdi’s Aida conducted by Mro Zubin Mehta in Tel Aviv,Israel, performing  with world famous opera singers including Renato Bruson, Plácido Domingo,Sherill Milnes,Mirella Freni, under famous conductors like Claudio Abbado and Riccardo Muti. Kaludi has a rich repertoire of Verdi’s operas - Attila,Ernani, La forza del destino, La Traviata,Il Trovatore, Aida.


Anna Dytry was born in Poland and specialized in singing under the expertise of Kaludi himself.  She performed leading roles of Micaela in Georges  Bizet’s Carmen, Desdemona  in Otello, Leonora in Il Trovatore,Elisabetta in Verdi’s Don Carlo, Liu in Madame Butterfly and Tosca in Giacomo Puccini’s operas, Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni,Giulietta in Les Contes d’Hoffman  by Jacques Offenbach,performing in opera houses of Vienna, Maastricht,Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia.


The La Valette Symphony Band will perform under the baton of Mro Dominic Darmanin.


OMAGGIO  A GIUSEPPE VERDI promises to be a tribute to Italian Opera by Malta’s leading Symphony Band  —-  Not to be missed!


Booking from Societa’ Filarmonica Nazionale La Valette, Republic Street,Valletta;  Telephone:  20997001


Email: lavaletteband1874@gmail.com


Catholic Institute, Floriana


STM Malta Named ‘National Winner’ in Prestigious European Competition


STM Malta Trust and Company Management Limited has been named ‘National Winner’ in the 2019 European Business Awards, one of the world’s largest business competitions.


It was chosen from 2,753 businesses named as ‘Ones to Watch’ in a list of business excellence published in July and selected as a National Winner by a panel of independent judges including business leaders, politicians and academics. It is the best business in Malta  in the The Customer and Market Engagement Award with Turnover of €0-25M category and will now go on to represent Malta in the final stage of the competition.


Deborah Schembri, Managing Director said “I am thrilled that STM Malta made it to the final stages of the competition, since we competed with excellent local companies.  This achievement is dedicated to all the team at STM Malta”.


The company is licensed as a Retirement Scheme Administrator with the Malta Financial Services Authority. It is also authorised to act as trustee or co-trustee to provide fiduciary services in terms of the Trusts and Trustees Act.


Adrian Tripp, CEO of the European Business Awards said: “This is a significant achievement and STM Malta is an outstanding leader in their field. To be chosen as a National Winner means you show great innovation, ethics and success and are one of the best businesses in Europe. We wish STM Malya the best of luck in the final round.”


A final round of judging will take place on the 3rd and 4th December in Poland and a Gala Ceremony will be held on the 4th of December where the overall category winners for the 2019 European Business Awards will be announced.


The European Business Awards is now in its 12th year and its primary purpose is to support the development of a stronger and more successful business community throughout Europe. This year it considered over 120,000 businesses from 33 countries. Sponsors and partners include Inflexion, Germany Trade & Invest and Cision PR Newswire.



A New Deal for Consumers: Operators of online platforms should also be liable​

The rapporteur, Samuel Azzopardi, believes that the EC’s proposal is a move in the right direction, but regrets that rules on the liability of online marketplaces are missing​

With an opinion drawn up by Samuel Azzopardi (MT/EPP), councillor, Rabat Citta Victoria, Local Council, Gozo, the European Committee of the Regions welcomes the publication of the EC’s proposal to lay down a minimum EU-wide framework for collective redress scheme mechanisms across the Member States, which could bring a real opportunity for consumers to obtain redress in cases of mass damage. The revision and update of existing consumer rules in response to current challenges ensures that such rules remain relevant and fit for purpose. This should, however, only be considered as a first step in the right direction.

The opinion, adopted at the plenary session on 10 October, reflects on the EC’s proposal to lay down a minimum EU-wide framework for collective redress scheme mechanisms, bringing an opportunity for consumers to obtain redress in the event of mass damage and thus plugging the current gap in the enforcement of EU consumer rights. It also seeks to modernise consumer rights. The Committee supports the broad scope of the proposal for making a real impact in areas where mass harm occurs and covering other practices that are detrimental to consumers and more largely to the public.


The rapporteur, Samuel Azzopardi, recommends that collective redress mechanisms be extended to other cases of mass harm, including cases of mass environmental damage, harm done to common goods, and in respect of health and safety regulations or violations of employment rights, in order to bring about easier access to justice for all Europeans. He also draws attention to the fact that consumer organisations which can be designated as qualified entities may have limited financial capacities. Consumer organisations in smaller Member States are concerned in particular. Lack of financial capacity should not hinder organisations from being designated as qualified entities.


“European consumers and citizens need stronger protection and legal security”, said rapporteur Azzopardi. “I believe that the right of withdrawal is an important consumer right that should not be weakened in the absence of any conclusive evidence of misuse”. In this respect, the report points out that the minimum fine for widespread infringements, amounting to 4% of a trader’s annual turnover, is not adequately dissuasive.


Finally, the report regrets that rules on the liability of online marketplaces are missing in the EC’s proposal. “Operators of online platforms should be liable in cases where they fail to inform consumers that a third party is the actual supplier of goods or services or where they fail to remove misleading information disseminated by the supplier, which has been reported to the operator”, said Mr Azzopardi.


The European Committee of the Regions


The European Committee of the Regions is the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives from all 28 Member States. Created in 1994 following the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, its mission is to involve regional and local authorities in the EU’s decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. To sit on the Committee of the Regions, all of its 350 members and 350 alternates must either hold an electoral mandate or be politically accountable to an elected assembly in their home regions and cities. Click here for more information on your national delegation.


Your personal data are processed in accordance with the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by EU institutions and bodies. You may, upon request, obtain the details of your personal data, rectify any inaccurate or incomplete personal data, or ask for your data to be removed from our mailing list.


Should you have any queries concerning the processing of your personal data, please address them to PresseCdr@cor.europa.eu. You can also send an email to the CoR Data protection officer at data.protection@cor.europa.eu. As regards the processing of your personal data, you have a right to recourse at any time to the European Data Protection Supervisor (http://www.edps.europa.eu/EDPSWEB/).


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Get ready for the cypto showdown of the century!​

In just 2 weeks, some of the greatest crypto minds will illuminate the much anticipated Malta Blockchain Summit. The Regulatory Conference and The Marketing & Investment Conference will storm the stage during day one.

The Regulatory Conference​

The Regulatory Conference kicks off the expo and attracts some of the most prominent personalities of the industry. Prime Minister of Malta, the Honourable Joseph Muscat will set the standard with his keynote speech, welcoming the movers and shakers of the crypto sphere. Around lunchtime, the cream of the crypto crop shake-up the conference with the ICO Pitch. The industry innovators of the sphere will battle it out for an illustrious 50k crypto prize.

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The Marketing & Investment Conference​

The afternoon heats up with the Marketing & Investment Conference. Liaise amongst some of the key figures of the crypto scene and spark up a debate about the topics that troop the industry. One of the most impressive instances of this Conference is the appearance of AI inspiration, Sophia the robot, where in collaboration with her creator, she will give her take on ICO investment.


With the countdown in its penultimate week, the curtain for final tickets is closing. Secure your spot in one of the most momentous conferences to shake the industry – not to forget the deluxe soirees that follow.

Secure your Ticket

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Trending News in Blockchain​

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ColdLar releases latest hardware wallet​

Craftchain releases Top 50 influencers​

Trending News in Blockchain​

Marco Mottana and Fabrizio Crimi will be launching CFX – CryptoFXForinvest at the upcoming Malta Blockchain Summit.

Craftchain released a first-edition global Top 50 Influencers Ranking. The ranking was issued through their partnership with the Malta Blockchain Summit.​

ColdLar Wallet released its latest product, Pro 3, a hardware wallet with a fully support EOS ecosystem with added NFC update synchronisation and an upgraded interactive experience. 

Other News

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New kid on the block​

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The inaugural edition of the Block is officially out. Packed to the rafters with interviews and cutting-edge features, the bi-annual publication illuminates the cutting-edge applications of blockchain and DLT, with a specific focus on how this exciting new tech has captured the imagination of the Maltese Islands.​


Email us for a free copy or scan through it here​

MGA Publishes its 2017 Annual Report and Financial Statements

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has published its Annual Report and Financial Statements for the financial year ending 31 December 2017. The report provides an overview of the activities and work performed throughout the year by the MGA which mainly focused on the finalisation of the new Gaming Act, coming into force in 2018, and on the enhancement of its compliance systems, including the implementation of the requirements of the EU 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive.


Throughout 2017, the MGA also focused on enhancing its IT systems, as reflected in the introduction of the Licensee Relationship Management System (LRMS), a secure and dedicated portal featuring a one-stop shop for licensing and reporting and a new communication channel.


The Annual Report also looks at 2018 and beyond, whereby the MGA will be focusing on the implementation of the new regulatory framework, the transition towards a risk-based approach to regulation, the continued implementation of onerous AML (Anti-Money Laundering)/ CFT (Combating the Financing of Terrorism) obligations, and the application of the General Data Protection Regulation, and its impact on operators and the MGA alike.



The following are the key highlights from the Annual Report:


During the year under review, the MGA generated a total revenue of €66.3m in licence fees, gaming tax and other administrative fees and fines, compared to €62.5m in 2016. This represents an increase of €3.7m or a 6% year-on-year increase;


The direct contribution of the gaming industry to the Maltese economy was valued at €1.1 billion in 2017, with approximately 9,800 full time jobs created within operators directly in the sector and other associated businesses;


In January of the same year, the MGA launched a licensing and regulatory regime based on the Skill Games Regulations for the online skill games sector, including the creation of a specific B2C and B2B licences for ‘controlled skill games’;


It also conducted a thorough study to assess the application of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and the use of cryptocurrencies in a sandbox environment, with the objective of issuing a consultation paper and subsequently, guidelines, in 2018;


As highlighted above, the MGA kept investing in its IT systems, most notably on the introduction of a New Licensee Relationship Management System accessible through a secure and dedicated web portal. This system has changed the way the MGA interacts with its existent and prospective licensees through the digitisation of regulatory and licensing processes;


In 2017, the MGA further enhanced its AML/CFT supervisory mechanisms, including the implementation of the EU 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. This involved cooperation with the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) to develop supervisory practices and procedures, sector-specific guidelines, and joint supervision;


MGA’s most important achievement was the finalisation of the new Gaming Act which was tabled in Parliament earlier this year. The new law is set to overhaul completely the way the Authority regulates the sector, once it comes into force in 2018.



In publishing this report, Heathcliff Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer of the Malta Gaming Authority, stated that: “Last year was perhaps one of the most exciting years for the MGA. The ongoing efforts and relentless work of MGA officials on the various projects the Authority embarked upon was reaching its final stages, with the new regulatory framework and the 4AMLD being the most notable ones.


Their introduction in 2018, coupled with the investment in IT systems shall continue to elevate our regulatory standards, by strengthening our controls and empowering the Authority to adopt a risk based approach towards enforcement and supervision.”


Whoever wishes to receive hard copies of the Annual Report may send an email to info.mga@mga.org.mt

GLMS welcomes Maltco Lotteries Ltd within the GLMS family

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Maltco Lotteries Ltd has today become the 31st Member of the Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS). Maltco Lotteries has been a firm and traditional supporter of sport of all levels in Malta and with a long-standing commitment to responsible gaming operations in all its products.


GLMS President, Ludovico Calvi states: “We are delighted to welcome Maltco Lotteries Ltd to our Association. Maltco once again proves its commitment to responsible and sustainable sports betting operations, but also to an ethical driven sport in the highest interest of all Maltese citizens. The joining of Maltco will no doubt further strengthen this unique global alliance of Lotteries that have joined forces to safeguard the credibility of sports, fully in line with the core lottery integrity mission and values”


Vasileios Kasiotakis, CEO of Maltco Lotteries, adds: “Being an operator that respects both society and its customers and sharing a strong commitment to responsible sports betting operations, Maltco is pleased to join the GLMS, notably as it has been lately enhancing its operations and intensifying its regulatory efforts and activities. We look forward to benefiting from the GLMS services and also contributing to its important work for the benefit of sport and society

GiG announces headline sponsorship of Malta Pride 2018

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“We don’t just believe that iGaming should be fair and fun for all, we believe that life should be fair and fun for all. And to demonstrate our support, today we’re teaming up with Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC) to be Malta Pride 2018’s main partner”.


GiG (Gaming Innovation Group) will be the main partners of Malta Pride this year, Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC), the organisers of Pride have announced. A week-long celebration with different activities will take place between 9-16 September 2018 with the main Parade and open air free concert to take place on Saturday 15 September. The theme of Pride this year will be ‘Pride in the heart of the Mediterranean’.


GIG is a fast-growing tech company with over 450 employees based in Malta but also located in Spain, Norway, Denmark and Gibraltar totalling over 700 employees. Earlier this year, their ultra hip offices by St. George’s Bay were inaugurated by the Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat.


Mikael Ångman, Chief Operations Officer of GiG said: “We are proud to be the headline supporters of Malta Pride, an event we believe to be a highlight in Malta’s calendar! GiG’s vision is to change the iGaming industry to make it fair and fun for all. A huge part of that is to have a diverse workforce and provide an atmosphere where everyone can be the best version of themselves, no matter their background or sexual orientation. We want to encourage everyone to be able to be who they are without fear.”


ARC is a voluntary organisation dedicated to support the LGBTIQ community in Malta by organising monthly events, campaigning for better sexual health, collaborating with rainbow-friendly businesses and co-ordinating Malta Pride.


“Studies are showing that countries that support LGBTIQ rights are better off in economic development and social wellbeing. We are witnessing this in Malta as well and we are finding a lot of positive collaboration with the business and civic communities”- Clayton Mercieca, the co-ordinator of this year’s Malta Pride said. “We are also aware however that negative attitudes and stigma still persist and an event like Pride is an occasion to bring different minorities together in support of each other and give courage to people who are still too afraid to live their truth. To have such a major employer like GIG supporting Pride gives us a lot of encouragement to make each year’s Pride a better one than before – not just for the fanfare and glamour that is fun for all the family, but because there is a lot of isolation in our small islands that makes it very hard for minorities like the LGBTIQ community to integrate”.


Following a record turnout participation last year, ARC has initiated its intent to host an International Pride event in five years time and has become a member of the European Association of Pride Organisers.


Several local artists will be performing for the crowds at the open air concert which will be held after the parade in Valletta. In addition, the Italian Drag duo Karma B. will be entertaining the crowds with their spectacular acts. More information will be available on www.maltapride.org

InnoEnergy organises the world´s leading event for sustainable energy innovations

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Pitching sessions from more than 150 start-ups, leading energy experts, live product demonstrations and much more


InnoEnergy, Europe’s largest sustainable energy innovation engine, will host the sixth edition of “The Business Booster” (TBB), Europe´s catalyst for clean energy innovations. This year´s event, taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 17 -18 October will focus on the theme “The Future is Now”. More than 700 attendees from over 30 countries are expected to join the 150 cutting edge sustainable energy innovations, which can be discovered in the accompanying exhibition.


“The Business Booster is the only event that brings together the most innovative start-ups from all over Europe with established industry players, investors and public-sector institutions to accelerate Europe´s clean energy transition”, says Elena Bou, Innovation Director, InnoEnergy. “In addition to the start-up´s pitching sessions, visitors can attend round tables, live product demonstrations, and parallel sessions.”

Premiere: Experts´ presentations and reverse pitching​

For the first time, InnoEnergy is organising parallel and reverse pitching sessions. In the first format, leading experts in their fields will present their latest innovations and show how their companies have revolutionised the storage, transport, wind and smart city sectors. While in the reverse pitching sessions, enterprises from across the energy sector will approach InnoEnergy´s entrepreneurs to look for sustainable energy solutions to their challenges.


“Each year, we are reinventing The Business Booster to provide start-ups and energy industry representatives with a bigger, better, and increasingly insightful agenda”, Bou says. “Our unique mix of sessions, product demonstrations and networking events create ideal conditions for delegates to discover the latest innovations, create partnerships and increase brand awareness. The clean energy revolution has happened, and the future of sustainable energy is now.”

From high-performance storage solutions to automatic heating control​

Among this year’s exhibitors are Swedish-based Northvolt, which is building Europe´s largest lithium-ion battery factory. Betterspace from Germany, on the other hand, develops components to enable automatic heating control for non-residential buildings. Swedish-based Watty will present their patent-pending energy data analytics tool that monitors energy use from every electrical appliance in households with a single sensor to save money and energy. France-based DCbrain has developed a Big Data solution to exploit and maintain complex industrial networks, while Skeleton Technologies from Estonia develops high-performance energy storage solutions based on breakthrough graphene material.


The first speakers have now been confirmed, including key-note speaker Dr. Daniel M. Kammen, Professor of Energy at the University of California in Berkeley, who has served as a lead author on various reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. In addition, panel debates and parallel sessions will include scientist Robert Rosner, Founding Director of the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago, and industry experts Lars Aagaard, CEO of the Danish Energy Association, and Michael Sen, Member of Siemens Managing Board.


Early bird registration is available until 31 July. Further information, agenda, exhibitors and speakers can be found at tbb.innoenergy.com.


About InnoEnergy


InnoEnergy is the innovation engine for sustainable energy across Europe.  We support and invest in innovation at every stage of the journey – from classroom to end-customer. With our network of partners we build connections across Europe, bringing together inventors and industry, graduates and employers, researchers and entrepreneurs, businesses and markets. InnoEnergy was established in 2010 and is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).


Courtesy: KIC InnoEnergy SE; Writemeanything

MEDIA RELEASE FIMBank hosts Corporate Client Event

FIMBank recently hosted a reception for its local corporate clients which was held at the Bank’s Head Office. The event served as an excellent opportunity for the Bank’s clients to interact with their Relationship Managers and customer-facing employees. The Chairman and CEO of FIMBank greeted the clients and thanked them for their attendance. Jason Zammit, Head of Real Estate stated that, “FIMBank has built a reputation on its ability to build strong relationships with its clients. As a customer centric Bank which proactively listens to its clients, we are committed towards tailoring financial solutions to meet their specific needs.” He also emphasised on the importance of such events as it enables the Bank to build a stronger rapport with its growing local customer base. In addition to FIMBank’s real estate finance proposition, the Bank also offers a comprehensive range of trade financing, factoring and cash management services. Describing the Bank’s client relationship management approach, FIMBank’s Head of Cash Management Chris Trapani said that, “The Bank is strongly geared to offer a wide range of Cash Management services to businesses. Our strategy hinges on a personalised approach, with a consistent commitment to adapt to the latest technology and innovation to provide added value to all our clients.”


For more information about FIMBank plc, please visit www.fimbank.com

Single digital gateway: a time saver for citizens and companies

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Easier for citizens and businesses to do their paperwork online

Key administrative procedures to be fully accessible

Examples include: birth certificates, car registration, European Health Card, study loan and grant applications and business permits


The single digital gateway will help citizens and firms to access information and administrative procedures online, e.g. to apply for study loans or register a car.


A provisional deal struck with the Council on 24 May to set up a single digital gateway, to make it easier to find information, forms and assistance for people moving to or doing business in another EU country, but also for those staying at home, was endorsed by the Internal Market Committee on Thursday, by 33 votes to three, with one abstention.


This European single entry point will be integrated in the “Your Europe” portal, available in all languages. It will provide access and links to national and EU web sites and web pages, in a user-friendly way, to enable users to exercise their rights and comply with their obligations within the single market.


EU member states will be required to grant online access to the most important and frequently used procedures.  In “justified exceptional cases of overriding reasons of public interest in the areas of public security, public health or the fight against fraud”, member states may ask the user to appear in person for a procedural step. The information, online procedures and assistance services provided must be of high quality and accessible to users with disabilities. A user feedback tool will also be available.


Marlene Mizzi (S&D, MT), who steered this legislation through Parliament, said: “Today, the Internal Market Committee has achieved an important milestone in improving and easing citizens’ interaction with public authorities through the digitalisation of public services and the completion of the digital single market. The new rules will provide responsive, inclusive, borderless, user-friendly digital public services to citizens and businesses at national and European level.


Such services are paramount when people want to move, live or study in another EU country and need to request relative documentation, such as a birth certificate, proof of residence or apply for university or study financing, amongst many others.  It is also very relevant for businesses wishing information relating to cross-border activities and procedures.

“Once only” principle and data protection​

The “once only” principle aims to ensure that citizens and businesses are asked to submit information only once to a public administration, which can then be re-used in other procedures, upon the user’s request. The single digital gateway regulation includes provisions to make sure that this principle is implemented in line with the new data protection rules.

Next Steps

The draft regulation still needs to be voted by the full Parliament in an upcoming plenary session (September) and formally approved by the EU Council of Ministers. In order to give national, regional and local administrations time to adapt, the target date for placing all relevant procedures online will be five years after the entry into force of the regulation. However, many procedures are already available online now or will be available before that date.​


The single digital gateway proposal is part of the “compliance package”, aimed at enhancing the practical functioning of the EU single market. It builds on several existing schemes, which cover only a few fields, are not always interconnected, suffer from not being well known and are therefore underused.


According to the European Commission, this legislation could help EU citizens save up to 855 000 hours of their time annually and companies could save more than EUR 11 billion per year.

Equiom Malta raises smiles among local children

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Equiom Malta recently organised a trip to the zoo for the children of St. Rita Home orphanage in Tarxien. Staff from Equiom Malta accompanied 13 children from the orphanage to the Wildlife Park in Rabat for the day where the children observed the animals and were treated to lunch.


The team at Equiom Malta also made a donation of €500 to St. Rita Home through a mix of fundraising activities and corporate donations. In addition, they gifted toys to the children in partnership with Playmobil.


Colin Gregory, Managing Director of Equiom Malta commented: ‘I am pleased that we were able to help out in such an important way. Many of these children had never visited the zoo before so it was a great experience both for them and for the staff. I would like to thank the team at Equiom Malta for giving up their free time on a public holiday to make this event happen. Special thanks also to eCabs for providing the transport, Playmobil for the toy donations and the Wildlife Park for entry to the park free of charge for the children. This was a great initiative and I am looking forward to offering more support to St. Rita’s in the future.’


St. Rita Home is an orphanage run by the St. Ursuline Sisters. It is home to 16 local children cared for by four nuns who dedicate their lives to providing a safe and nurturing environment.

Notes to editor

About Equiom

Equiom is fast becoming the stand-out business in the professional services sector, with a strong presence in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and The Americas. It provides a range of innovative and effective business partnering solutions.


Equiom’s experienced and highly qualified teams support corporations and high-net-worth individuals around the world with their fiduciary and related support-service needs.


Equiom is an independent company focused on strategic thinking and quick responses to clients’ requirements. It is a thriving business, continually seeking to develop its product range, in order to provide both existing and potential clients with an unrivalled range of options and opportunities.


Equiom (Malta) Limited is authorised to act as a trustee and fiduciary services provider by the Malta Financial Services Authority.

World’s first convertible coin offering platform

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The world’s first convertible coin offering platform was officially launched with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat saying that the blockchain technology will be a harbinger of a new economic niche for the country which in turn will create more jobs and wealth. The offering by the company Palladium saw its chairman Paolo Catalfami saying that the project will create more than 100 job opportunities. Palladium uses blockchain technology to bond banking with cryptocurrency and had its prospects approved by the MFSA and is subject to stringent EU laws. Malta is one of the first countries worldwide to regulate this technology creating an ideal ecosystem for companies, start-ups, and investors.


Malta Stock Exchange, Valletta (OPM1007201801-02)

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