Malta’s MEPs have begun trading jibes over a proposal to reopen the tourism sector for the summer, with PN MEP Roberta Metsola slamming PL MEP Alex Agius Saliba’s “ill-informed” criticism of the plan.
Metsola’s European People’s Party is leading the plan which would see some EU member states reopen their internal borders. Agius Saliba is insisting that the “matter of health competence should remain in the hands of Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci”.
In reply, Metsola said:
“I am glad that there is a debate ongoing on what exit strategies Europe should take. This is a time for leadership: As restaurants, airlines, hotels, family-run small businesses, SMEs and everyone examines how much longer they can survive, we need an adult discussion on the way forward.”
“Trying to score petty, ill-informed, political points, as Labour Party MEPs insist on doing in this situation, is cringe-worthy and unbecoming – more so when so many families are worried about how they will pay rent, mortgages and feed their children, should not be what characterises this debate.”
“No-one is suggesting that we reopen internal borders for intra-EU travel with no checks immediately. No-one is suggesting we return immediately to how it used to be.”
“We need a sustainable, responsible, safe, exit and recovery plan that is in line with the rest of Europe – one that is based on science and facts not easy attempts at grabbing headlines.”
“We need to see standardised sanitation and health checks for shops and the hospitality industry, public transportation, strict common rules for intra-EU travel, common and accepted rules on social distancing, protective equipment and other measures.”
“That is how we can come out of it – together – not by peddling the false narrative that Malta and Gozo are immune from what is happening around the world.”
“My position is clear: We can keep our people safe, mitigate against a second wave and preserve people’s livelihoods.”
The European People’s Party yesterday proposed that the EU’s internal Schengen borders should reopen in time for summer while non-Schengen EU countries should also reopen for EU tourists with normal border control measures that were in place before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposal was fronted by Metsola, the EPP’s spokesperson on Home Affairs, and MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu, the EPP’s spokesperson on Transport and Tourism, who argued that such a move is necessary to safeguard the tourism industry and the jobs of thousands of people who work in it.
The EU Commission is expected to pronounce itself on this issue later today.
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