MEP Marlene Mizzi says that the EU has a ‘small percentage’ to blame for the reasons behind Brexit.
Speaking to Newsbook.com.mt following a Brexit talk entitled ‘Brexit and Us’ at Europe House today, the MEP said that in her opinion, the decision to leave the UK was indeed made by the UK electorate, but whether or not the public was well-informed or mis-informed prior to taking their decision, begs the question.
However, she also recognised the different fact that the European Union has not always provided enough information to citizens across its 28 member states and therefore been blamed for ‘things that go wrong.’
At the same time, the EU has not always put the citizens ‘in the midst of its decision making’, the MEP said.
These comments come following a question on how much the European Union is to blame for the Brexit and the withdrawal of the UK from the supra-national body.
However, Mizzi also said that movements and actors inside the UK, namely the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), its former leader Nigel Farage and Conservative MP Boris Johnson had been ‘so vociferous’ during the referendum that their impact was more effective even as minority populists.
The ‘Brexit and Us’ talk explored the impact that Brexit would have on Malta’s economy in the event of a deal or No-deal scenario.
The panel of experts ranging from academia, politics and economy, explained what preparedness measures had been taken and how the result would affect people’s status, their driving licences as well as their pocket.
Following the initial speeches from the British High Commissioner to Malta, Stuart Gill and MEP Marlene Mizzi, the panel discussion turned to technical questions about what will happen for the futures of over 3 million EU citizens living in the UK and 1 million living in the EU.
Driving licences will need to be converted
While assurances have been given by the UK government and respective EU member states over the protection of rights, whether there is a deal or not, there are bi-lateral agreements which will need to be carried out in the transition of the UK’s withdrawal.
Glenn Micallef, Head of the EU Secretariat at MEAE, explained that if the Brexit deal goes through, British nationals with driving licences would have a two year transition period to convert these over to European licences. These licences would only be valid once they were converted. Although it is still unclear at this stage, there was mention that in a No-Deal scenario, the status of the driving licence would need to be transferred to somewhere in the EU. This contingency is still being worked on. Should the transition period be extended, the UK would need to pay its share towards the transition.
Question mark over medicines
During his intervention on the conditions surrounding customs arrangements with the UK, former Director General of the Customs Department, Mr Joseph Brincat explained that there is still a ‘question mark with medicines’.
He explained to the audience that the UK produces a high level of medicines which Malta is importing.
For this to continue in the future, the medicines would need to meet an EU certification of standards as well as factoring the origin of production. This means that there could be a considerable issue of cost.
Equally, the current member of the Custom Department’s International Affairs team, explained that the UK would considered a ‘Third Country’, meaning that it would be subject to duty tariffs and VAT on goods coming into Malta.
He stated that there would be an allowance limit for goods of €430 in value. Anything over this would be met with an import duty and VAT. Buyers would be paying a total duty charge on the whole value.