The government has officially requested the European Commission to report to the European Council on the economic and social situation of Gozo and, in particular, on the disparities in the social and economic development levels between Gozo and Malta.

In a statement on Tuesday, the government said it has done this as part of the ongoing discussions on the future of the European Union Budget and on the basis of Declaration 36 on the island region of Gozo annexed to the Treaty of Accession of Malta.

The government said it was convinced that further efforts were required to adequately support island territories to ensure that these regions were not undermined by the territorial handicaps they faced.

The declaration called for action to be taken before the end of each budgetary period in an effort to mitigate these challenges in future.

The government said it believed that to address the specific situation of Gozo, a tailor-made approach specific to the island's needs was required with the aim of bolstering its economic activity while protecting its inherent and distinctive natural features.

For this purpose, during the last two programming periods, it had earmarked 10% of Structural and Cohesion Funds specifically to address Gozo's needs.

Cognisant of the investment undertaken in recent years in a number of areas in Gozo, such as basic infrastructure in transport and environment, tourism and health related projects as well as training and employment opportunities; a comparison of socio-economic development levels indicated, that notwithstanding the investment made, disparities persisted and the development of Gozo lagged behind Malta's, primarily for reasons relating to its double insularity.

Within this context, the government invited the European Commission to propose appropriate measures to enable the further integration of Gozo within the internal market.

While this approach aimed to provide a renewed impetus for the development of Gozo, the objective was to foster sustainable development within Gozo which would contribute towards a better quality of life for those living on the island now and in the future.

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