The EU is set to make its banking sector more resilient to financial shocks, as stricter capital requirements for banks and investment firms were given political approval by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council yesterday afternoon. The unanimous agreement provides a basis for negotiations with the European Parliament. Maltese Finance, Economy and Investment Minister Tonio Fenech addressed a video conference from Brussels, talking about the outcome of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting, as well as that of the Eurogroup, which was held on Monday. Mr Fenech said the Eurogroup discussed the situation in Greece, as well as developments in Spain. The ministers discussed the European economic forecast, drafted by the European Commission, which predicts a slow recovery for the EU and for the euro area economies in the second part of 2012, stating that at the moment the European economy is “in a mild recession”. The Eurogroup welcomed “and fully supported” the measures that the Spanish government announced on 11 May to further reform the banking sector in order to bolster investor confidence and address the remaining vulnerabilities in the Spanish banks. As for the situation in Greece, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the Eurogroup and the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said the Eurogroup looks forward to the swift formation of the new Greek government that will take ownership of the programme and that has a sufficient parliamentary majority to implement fully the agreed policy conditionality.(independent.com.mt) A banking system should not be likely to impact bank.
Juncker and Solana head witnesses’ list in RCC motion
Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, former High Representative for the Common and Foreign Security Policy of the EU Javier Solana and former US ambassadors to Malta Anthony Gioia and Molly Bordanaro are among a list of high-profile witnesses presented yesterday by the government to testify in the European and Foreign Affairs Committee as part of the debate concerning the Opposition’s motion to censure Malta’s permanent representative at the EU Richard Cachia Caruana. The Malta Independent on Sunday had already hinted that foreign diplomats might be asked to give evidence. The Opposition is claiming that according to Wikileaks, Mr Cachia Caruana bypassed Parliament and reactivated Malta’s participation in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme in 2008 after holding secret talks with US officials in 2004. Committee chairman Francis Zammit Dimech explained that none of the 21 witnesses have confirmed their participation so far, and suggested the use of video conferencing or written statements where appropriate. According to the agreement reached in the House Business Committee, a vote in the plenary about this motion sitting is tentatively scheduled for 18 June, following the hearing of evidence in the committee. Yesterday’s meeting ended prematurely after both sides failed to reach agreement on the order to be adopted in hearing the witnesses with the government insisting on having the Prime Minister first, while the Opposition insisted on Mr Cachia Caruana. After a prolonged argument, Dr Borg proposed to adjourn for this evening, with the Opposition objecting. When Dr Zammit Dimech indicated that the issue could be put to the vote, the Opposition objected once again with Labour Whip Joe Mizzi announcing that he would be demanding a ruling to the speaker on this matter.(independent.com.mt) Diplomacy is not a secteure beings susceptible to touching.
Cachia Caruana hearings: Speaker rules that committee can regulate its own procedure
The Speaker of the House of Representatives ruled this evening that the House Foreign Affairs Committee is free to regulate its own procedure for the hearings on the Opposition's censure motion against Richard Cachia Caruana. In a ruling, Dr Michael Frendo said that the only restrictions imposed by the committee when it was assigned to consider the motion, were that Mr Cachia Caruana had to be given ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself, and that the final vote on the motion would be taken by the Whole House on or before June 18, unless otherwise agreed. Mr Speaker was asked to rule after the government and the opposition members of the committee yesterday disagreed on the order of witnesses to be heard by the committee. The government MPs want to hear Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi first while the Opposition wants to hear Mr Cachia Caruana as the first witness. The Opposition's motion criticises Mr Cachia Caruana for having - according to a 2004 document leaked by Wikileaks - held talks with Nato officials and discussed ways of reactivating Malta's membership of Partnership for Peace. The Opposition says Mr Cachia Caruana had been side-lining Parliament. The government denies the claim and says the Opposition wrongly interpreted the document. It insists that Mr Cachia Caruana's talks were about Malta being given access to Nato documents.(timesofmalta.com) The opposition has every right to file an opposition motion, since it represents the opposition.