Strengthening European Union-related services in Malta
Servizzi Ewropej f'Malta – SEM, was officially launched as a government agency to provide services related to the European Union. Therefore, MEUSAC has been given a new name that reflects better the work of the agency, with the strengthening of existing services and the introduction of new services. Servizzi Ewropej f'Malta will serve as the first point of contact for organisations and citizens who require information and assistance in matters relating to the EU.
Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela, responsible for the agency, stated that during discussions on SEM, a need was felt to amend the law to strengthen the operations of this agency which brings the EU closer to citizens. In addition, there will be increased synergy between SEM and the MCESD, which will strengthen social dialogue in relation to the EU and also increase efficiency in terms of time and resources.
Minister Abela said that the government, through SEM, will continue to provide an efficient and a value added service to citizens, from those who apply for EU funds, where assistance in the implementation phase will also be given; to those who submit their opinion on legislative proposals and the EU's political direction; to those who seek to remain informed on what's going on in the EU; as well as those who have a query on their rights and obligations in the EU.
Minister Abela emphasised that in the electoral manifesto for this legislature there are clear aims to utilise European funds in the best way possible in every field, such as climate change, education, security, infrastructure and immigration. Therefore, the Agency shall remain at the forefront to assure that the people are not only informed and involved on developments on a European level, but also to utilise in the best way European funds to reach the country's objectives as an EU member state. In the coming seven years this challenge will be greater due to the government obtaining an MFF package that is double the amount from the previous MFF seven years ago. Therefore, rather than waiting for NGOs and local councils to approach SEM, the agency will be going to these entities itself.
Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar explained that today's event is not only a rebranding exercise, but also a new way of doing things – vision and function. He stated that SEM's transition goes hand in hand with the Public Service's strategy, where services are brought to the people rather than waiting for people to approach a particular service. This is also true especially to European funds, where many are still apprehensive of seeking a particular service due to EU bureaucracy. SEM will be a partner for these people.
Mr Cutajar also added that SEM wants to perfect communication with the public and focus on personalised services. Even the name change is significant and important, as it serves as a daily reminder of service in its totality. While all this is going on, amalgamating work is being done in similar structures to SEM in the public service, with demarcation lines that finally will lead to a more efficient service and a one-stop shop for clients.
This is all part of a strategy of renewal within the Public Service that has borne fruit and will make the Public Service more accessible where the client receives a service in an efficient manner.
SEM CEO Mandy Falzon said that the functions of the agency will be to inform about the latest developments in the European Union, involving individuals and organisations in the decision-making processes by facilitating exchanges of views on EU initiatives and the implementation of those initiatives adopted by the EU's institutions. Finally, SEM will also assist organisations to benefit from EU funds by informing them on current opportunities, as well as assisting in the application process.
The agency will also be introducing a new service to guide organisations which are recipients of fonds in the implementation of the projects, so that they can succeed in their EU-funded projects.
SEM can be contacted on the website sem.gov.mt, via telephone on 2200 3300 or via email on email@example.com.