Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat joined us Tuesday evening for a discussion on European economic and social development.
Since PM Muscat took power in 2013, he has halved unemployment, reduced poverty and grown disposable income, he has increased the percentage of women in the work force, increased the number of foreign workers in the labor force, made Malta a haven for refugees by accepting those that Greece and Italy can’t handle, legalized gay marriage, separated the church and state, and improved Malta’s overall economic and social welfare. His description of Malta sound utopian. A state where unemployment is under 4% and social policies are liberal and progressive sounds perfect. The Prime Minister would argue that his accomplishments are all within reach of nations that look to emulate the work he has done. While quick to admit that Malta is a very small country and very lucky in it’s location, PM Muscat would also like to be clear that doesn’t mean it’s policies can’t be used as a microcosm guide to be applied to a macrocosm.
His policies have been straightforward. The IMF informed him that he would have to raise taxes, cut government spending and create an overall plan of austerity for the government. The Prime Minister did just the opposite. He cut taxes to increase disposable income, he made sure that borders were as open as they could be and that there were few to no regulations on trade, all contributing to an increase in spending by his constituents and thus more job opportunities for more people. With more money being pumped into the economy the debt fell, loans were renegotiated and he was able to start work on creating a social program that he finds to be exemplary with elements such as the state paying for childcare so that women’s disincentives to enter the workforce disappeared.
PM Muscat also, thanks to the Q&A period, touched on his Brexit and EU sentiments, namely that he feels that any deal with the EU can cut will still be inferior to that of Britain staying in the EU. He felt strongly that the entire concept of the the EU and the Eurozone was misunderstood. While Britain may have pulled out of the EU and Greece and Italy are big drains on the Eurozone, the entire concept of the Eurozone and the EU is to create political links between the states. Something he feels there will always be a need for.
While he feels that his internal policies may not be picked up by the rest of the world since bigger states simply have a tendency to be more protectionist, he hopes that his sentiments on the political necessity of the EU will be shared by all involved.