Malta should not be burdened with defence spending by EU - Alfred Sant- MALTA Today

EU member states like Malta that have opted out of the common defence policy should not be burdened with additional defence spending, Labour MEP Alfred Sant said.

The former Maltese prime minister said the EU was not a military union and defence spending should be kept separate from the common multiannual financial framework, the EU’s budget.

Sant intervened in the wake of the conclusions of the European Council informal meeting held last week that discussed the political priorities for the bloc’s budget. The Council agreed to spend more on stemming illegal migration, on defence and security as well as on the Erasmus+ programme.

Sant said that when proposing own resources for EU funding, the economic sensitivities of each Member State have to be respected.

“Similarly, new funding priorities should not downgrade cohesion as a crucial tool of European policy. They must take into consideration the different constitutions of the Member States. Defence has now emerged for some as a leading priority. The EU as of now is not a military union,” Sant said.

Malta, Denmark and the UK have decided not to participate in the EU's new defence and security cooperation agreement.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told Parliament last December that Malta had opted out of the new EU defence initiative known as the Permanent Structured Cooperation, adopting a wait and see approach in view of Malta’s neutrality.

The Prime Minister’s cautious approach found the support of Opposition leader Adrian Delia.

The defence programme is intended to increase cooperation and investment in defence and ensure the operational readiness of the armed forces.

Muscat had said neutral countries like Ireland joined the programme but the government preferred a wait and see approach to determine how the programme will develop.

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