Malta will take the EU rotating presidency with the aim of ensuring the long term sustainability of the bloc and restoring faith in the European project, government officials have said.
The six-month presidency will start on 1 January, but the Maltese cabinet was in Brussels on Wednesday for meetings with EU institutions.
“It would be folly to think a complete redesign of Europe is on the cards,” said Malta’s parliamentary secretary for the EU presidency Ian Borg.
Prime minister Joseph Muscat told journalists that his country was a “natural bridge builder” and would “make sure that Europe truly progresses on things that matter”.
Referring to the Brexit vote in June and the recent election of Donald Trump in the US, he said that the lesson to draw was that “a great deal of energy must be put not only on listening to people but also acting on people’s concerns”.
For its first EU presidency since joining the EU in 2004, the Mediterranean island of fewer than 500,000 people will have “no delusion of grandeur”, Muscat said.
Malta has set six priorities: migration, security, single market, social inclusion, neighbourhood policy, and a final one of particular concern to the island, the maritime sector.