A public discussion about the future of Gozo in the EU was held at the Calypso Hotel in Marsalforn. Titled ‘Creating Your Own Europe’, the debate provided Gozitan youths the opportunity to share their concerns and ideas on tangible issues such as transport, accessibility, the job market and education.
Panel members included MEPs Roberta Metsola and Alfred Sant, William Vella on behalf of Kunsill Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ (KNZ) and Gozo Business Chamber president Joe Grech.
Mr Grech said lack of continuous connectivity between Malta and Gozo was a big drawback for businesses. “Foreign investors have to land at Malta International Airport, drive all the way to Ċirkewwa and catch the ferry to Gozo,” he said, saying this was a strong deterrent for any business person. Mr Grech also insisted that other measures, such as a fourth ferry, would help lessen the connectivity problems encountered by Gozitans.
Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola said Gozo Channel, the ferry company, was in dire need of “urgent modernisation and boat upgrading”. She said a fast ferry for the sister island should have “started years ago”, adding that this would lead to a better quality of life for everyone.
Labour MEP Alfred Sant, on the other hand, encouraged greater attention to Gozo’s traditional sectors, noting they faced great challenges. “Available land for farming is decreasing. I believe one way to address this is to make sure that it is sustained,” he said. We are focusing on “new, shiny, glamorous industries” and we are not investing in farmers, insisted Dr Sant.
Dr Vella said there was an urgent need for a collective and strong voice among Gozitans so that there would no longer be unresolved problems to the current realities.
Other issues raised were the difficulties faced by Gozitan students such as high rentals, public transport and the failure of accessibility to Malta.
Participants urged MEPs to put pressure on the government to build residences for Gozitan students in Malta.
‘Creating your own Europe’ was organised by the European Parliament Office in Malta and KNZ.
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