It is that time of the year again where we have time to reflect and look back, to assess where we are at and look forward to the year to come and above all time to be grateful for what we have. It is Christmas and New Year!

I think everyone gets excited when we walk through the streets and see Christmas decorations, trees and lights all around us. People are somehow happier and kinder to each other, counting the days when they will be together with their families and loved ones. It is truly the most amazing time of the year. It is a time for a fresh start and a renewal of our commitments.

2016 had been a truly challenging year starting with the Brexit vote, followed by the Trump´s victory at the US elections and rapping up the year with the result of the Italian Referendum. The political turmoil set out by those events brings political and economic instability in Europe and a lot of uncertainty for the future of the European Union.

As for what to expect in 2017, I have to say that with the current political season and elections to be held in France, Germany and possibly Italy, 2017 will not be easier. On the contrary, 2017 will be a litmus test for the European project.

In these turbulent times, Malta will take the rotating presidency for the first time on the 1st of January 2017. The most challenging task for the presidency will be to find a way of uniting deeply divided Member States under a single European voice on issues, which affect all European citizens, such as the Brexit negotiations, immigrations, security and terrorism among others.

All eyes will be on Malta for the next six months. But I am convinced that the presidency through its determination, professionalism and commitment will take centre stage and will prove that it deliver its goals for Europe and its citizens. Important issues such as migration, the single market, security, social inclusion, and Europe’s neighbourhoods and in particular the Mediterranean and the maritime industry will be key priorities for the Maltese presidency.

Europe also needs better investment policy in the field of energy, environment and infrastructure, as well as long waited structural reforms to the European economy to engage actively on issues that threaten our society such as social exclusion, poverty and demographic change.

I am also positive that Malta will address the issues of particular importance for completing the digital single market and promoting smart and fair growth that fosters innovation and jobs for the future. Malta is a small country, but a great nation and as such I have no doubt that the EU Presidency will be in good, well prepared, hands.

It is therefore pertinent that we begin the New Year with hope and positive expectations for the future. And with this thought, I would like to wish you and your families a serene and peaceful Christmas full of love, laughter and joy … and a New Year full of happiness, prosperity, and above all health.

So, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!
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Messaġġ tal-Milied u l-Ewwel tas-Sena

Reġa’ wasal dak iż-żmien tas-sena fejn ikollna ċans nirriflettu, inħarsu lura u naraw fejn wasalna u nħarsu ‘l quddiem lejn sena ġdida, u fuq kollox ikun rikonoxxenti għal dak li għandna. Waslu l-Milied u Sena Ġdida!

Naħseb li kulħadd jieħu gost meta jimxi fit-toroq imżejnin, bid-dwal u s-siġar madwarna. In-nies ikunu aktar ferħanin u b’xi mod aktar qalbhom tajba, kuntenti li se jqattgħu xi żmien mal-familji u l-maħbubin tagħhom. Huwa tassew l-aktar żmien sabiħ tas-sena. Huwa żmien għal bidu ġdid u għat-tiġdid tal-impenji tagħna.

L-2016 kienet sena ta’ sfidi kbar, ibda mill-vot tal-Brexit, ir-rebħa ta’ Trump fl-elezzjonijiet tal-Istati Uniti u spiċċa bir-riżultat tar-Referendum Taljan. It-taqlib politiku li ġabu magħhom dawn l-avvenimenti wasslu għal instabbiltà politika u ekonomika fl-Ewropa u bosta inċertezzi għall-futur tal-Unjoni Ewropea.

X’qed nistenna mill-2017? Ikolli ngħid li bl-istaġun politiku preżenti u bl-elezzjonijiet li se jsiru fi Franza, fil-Ġermanja u possibbilment fl-Italja, l-2017 mhix se tkun waħda faċli. Għall-kuntrarju, l-2017 se tkun test importanti ħafna għall-proġett Ewropew.

F’dawn iż-żminijiet ta’ taqlib, Malta se tieħu l-presidenza għall-ewwel darba fl-1 ta’ Jannar 2017. L-aktar sfida iebsa għall-presidenza se tkun biex jinstab mod kif l-Istati Membri, li tant huma maqsumin bejniethom, ikollhom vuċi Ewropea waħda fuq kwistjonijiet li se jaffettwaw liċ-ċittadini kollha, bħan-negozjati tal-Brexit, l-immigrazzjoni, is-sigurtà u t-terroriżmu, fost l-oħrajn.

L-attenzjoni se tkun fuq Malta għal dawn is-sitt xhur li ġejjin. Iżda ninsab konvinta li l-presidenza – grazzi għad-determinazzjoni, il-professjonalità u l-impenn – se tagħti prova li kapaċi tilħaq il-miri tagħha għall-Ewropa u ċ-ċittadini tagħha. Kwistjonijiet importanti bħall-migrazzjoni, is-suq uniku, is-sigurtà, l-inklużjoni soċjali, il-ġirien tal-Ewropa, u b’mod partikolari l-Mediterran u l-industrija marittima, se jkunu prijoritajiet ewlenin għall-Presidenza Maltija.

L-Ewropa għandha bżonn ukoll politika ta’ investiment aħjar fl-oqsma tal-enerġija, l-ambjent u l-infrastruttura, kif ukoll riformi strutturali għall-ekonomija Ewropea biex tkun tista’ tiffaċċja kwistjonijiet li qed jolqtu s-soċjetà tagħna bħall-esklużjoni soċjali, il-faqar u l-bidla demografika.

Ninsab fiduċjuża li Malta se tindirizza l-kwistjonijiet ta’ importanza partikolari għas-suq uniku diġitali u biesx tippromwovi tkabbir għaqli u ġust għall-innovazzjoni u l-impjiegi tal-futur.

Malta hija pajjiż żgħir iżda nazzjon kbir u għaldaqstant m’għandix dubju li l-Presidenza tal-UE se tkun f’idejn tajbin u lesti għall-okkażjoni. Għalhekk għandna nibdew is-Sena l-Ġdida bit-tama u bi stennija pożittiva għall-futur.

B’dan il-ħsieb nawgura lilkom u lill-familji tagħkom Milied hieni mimli mħabba, daħk u kuntentizza u Sena Ġdida mimlija ferħ, prosperità u fuq kollox saħħa.

Għalhekk nawguralkom, il-Milied Hieni u s-Sena t-Tajba!

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