The interparliamentary conference on stability, economic coordination and governance comes to a close

Today, the Interparliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance, jointly organised with the Maltese Parliament and the European Parliament in Brussels within the 2017 European Parliamentary Week framework, came to a close. This is the second out of a series of meetings organised by the Maltese Parliament that fall within the Parliamentary dimension of the Council Presidency.

The Inter-Parliamentary Conference, organised in accordance with Article 13 of the Fiscal Compact, brought together members of national parliaments of the European Union and of the relevant committees of the the European Parliament. It was co-chaired by Mr Roberto Gualtieri, the Chairperson of the Committee of Economic and Financial Affairs, and Silvio Schembri, Member of the Maltese Parliament, MEP Silvio Schembri and initiated by Speaker Anġlu Farrugia and the President of the European Parliament Mr Antonio Tajani.

The meeting was divided into four plenary sessions: an exchange of views on the Fiscal Compact as part of the national economic policy; an exchange of views on a more comprehensive and coordinated social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union; an exchange of best practices on benchmarking national reforms aimed to boost growth and jobs; and an exchange of ideas on the financial assistance programme's role and the European Stability Mechanism to safeguard the stability of the Euro.

During the sessions’ opening remarks on benchmarking national reforms, Member of Parliament Silvio Schembri said that beyond what is set out in the Treaty, a discussion on how benchmarking should be conducted is needed, what is meant by 'benchmarking', if this is enough and whether there are more effective measures to achieve the same objective.  During the last session's opening remarks, Member of Parliament Silvio Schembri spoke about the successes the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the European Financial Stability Facility had in countries undertaking the loan programmes. He also remarked that at the end of 2016, the ESM agreed to launch an evaluation process of loan programmes granted in the past for a more in-depth analysis of the results achieved and to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of these programmes in the future.

Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna was amongst the various guest speakers that addressed two of this Conference’s sessions,. He discussed the role of the financial assistance and the European Financial Stability Mechanism.

To safeguard the stability of the Euro.  Minister Edward Scicluna said that EMS contributes to stability and pointed out that although the Euro is more than a political project, it lacks the institutional elements commonly found in other federal currencies such as the dollar.  Minister Scicluna added that the ESM is an essential element of the European response to the financial crisis. He pointed out that there is a strong political will to ensure stability and sustainability of the Euro, and referred to the various available tools, including benchmarking and the Stability and Growth Pact. He concluded that despite the problems the European Union faced, major steps forward have been made. In this context, he referred to the discussions pertaining to the last Eurogroup meeting when the positive results registered in the European area in general and Greece in particular had been acknowledged.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Malta, Mr Mario Vella, also addressed the participants and spoke about the implementation of structural reforms that lead to growth and jobs. He debated the national reforms’ discussion and revision's process and said action in certain areas such as social policy must be undertaken at national level. In his intervention, he listed the implemented reforms in Malta and the results of these reforms. Mr Vella argued that it is a mistake to assume that introducing certain reforms in small countries is simpler; due to lack of resources in these countries, wrong decisions may have a greater impact than they would on larger economies.  He also said that successful reforms are built on lengthy discussions and thoroughness to reduce opposition. In his concluding comments, he said that although Malta’s successes cannot be easily transposed in larger economies, a lot can be learned. Primarily, that policy-makers should focus on flexible, clear and well-thought incentives to promote appropriate economic behaviour.

Parliamentary Speaker Anġlu Farrugia and Member of Parliament Jason Azzopardi were present at the conference.

As part of the 2017 European Parliamentary Week, Speaker Anġlu Farrugia and the first Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness also addressed the participants in an activity held in the European Parliament premises on Tuesday evening, 31 January 2017.