CorporateDispatch Pro - Edition 27

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Corporate Issue No. 27 | July 2022

Innovation Strategies


Corporate Issue No. 27 | July 2022

Contents Driving Real Impact In The Insurance Sector

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Facilitating Malta’s Twin Transition

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Quarterly Malta Insights

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Quarterly European Insights

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Queen Elizabeth And The 70-year Reign

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Ukraine is Europe - Roberta Metsola

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European Parliament Calls For EU Treaties Revision So That EU Is No Longer ‘Held Hostage’

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EU.Review

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Over a Coffee

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Phygital… What Is That?

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Young People In Malta Buy More Fake Products And Continue To Access Pirated Content

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Express Trailers Improves Operations With Newly Set Up Order Department

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Connecting People To The TV Content They Love

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Editorial Team Managing Editor - Jesmond Saliba

Contributors Prof. Josef Bonnici, Chairman, Malta Development Bank Sandro Debono PhD, Museology, Art History and Curatorial Practice

Corporate ID Group Denise Grech Isabelle Micallef Bonello James Vella Clark Keith Zahra Matthew Borg Nicholas Azzopardi Shirley Zammit Tonio Galea

PRODUCTION

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ADDITIONAL SOURCES


Corporate

COVER STORY

Driving Real Impact In The Insurance Sector ICON Ups RCI Insurance’s Claims Management System Efficiency By Over 30% “For a major international insurance company like RCI Insurance that provides insurance solutions to over 2.5 million customers across seven European countries, delivering a claims management solution that truly delivers efficiency was a must. What we developed was a platform that resulted in an over 30% increase in productivity and a significant reduction in time to handle claims,” says CHRISTINE FALZON, Chief Sales Officer at ICON.

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he digital transformation continues to reshape the current and future state of many industries and the insurance industry is no exception. This is the main reason companies must embrace change and rethink their business model to move towards more compliant and secure digital operations. “We are seeing how more companies are now embracing the fact that new digital capabilities help them streamline the development of new products, digital experiences and helps them enhance customer and employee satisfaction,” explains Christine Falzon. “So, when RCI approached us with their brief, they were very clear; they wanted a solution that reflected their mission to always achieve the best possible outcomes for their clients. In ICON, they found a digital solutions partner

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with relevant experience and expertise in the insurance industry to develop a highly customisable and future-proof insurance software solution for their company.” Through this project RCI Insurance wanted to achieve more efficient numbers, more costeffectiveness, innovation, and flexibility in the application of the new solution. “RCI Insurance’s target was to achieve efficiency through a reduction of 20% in the length of their claims handling process. We managed to help them achieve over 30% reduction! We also managed to achieve cost-effectiveness through a reduction in the overall running costs of the insurance claims management software applying a highly innovative and customisable solution that has now increased the speed to go-tomarket with new insurance products and/ or country deployments. Finally, they are


now also enjoying the flexibility they needed by being able to manage and support the system internally,” added Christine Falzon. “Output is the most important thing when measuring success of any project. We are proud to have had the opportunity to work so closely with a partner like ICON whose dedicated multidisciplinary team of experts understood our pain points from the very beginning and worked hand in hand with our team to execute their brief in line with our vision,” remarked Claudio Bovo, CIO & Business Development Officer at RCI Insurance. Guided by constant consultation with ICON, RCI Insurance opted for a custom-built claims management system which was to be supported by pre-built software components. This involved splitting the solution into minimal viable products to ensure business

We managed to help them achieve over 30% reduction! We also managed to achieve cost-effectiveness through a reduction in the overall running costs of the insurance claims management software applying a highly innovative and customisable solution that has now increased the speed to go-to-market with new insurance products and/or country deployments. users are frequently reviewing, testing, and familiarising themselves with the solution, the identification of a pilot market with whom to test the solution and the creation of a communication strategy to keep all stakeholders informed and updated. “One of the strengths of our service lies in the fact that ICON allocates a dedicated, multi-disciplinary team to every project. We sit with the client to understand what their expectations are, and we deliver solutions

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that are tailor-made to their requirements. More importantly, we work with the client’s team to ensure that knowledge is developed and retained throughout the process, giving the client ownership and the ability to run the solution,” added Christine Falzon. The insurance management software included key capabilities that empower RCI Insurance with the ability to rapidly launch new products, improve their claims handling process and increase their operational efficiency. “Today our claim handlers are enjoying a modern and user-friendly dashboard to handle day-to-day tasks and process claims efficiently with a limited amount of clicks and page refreshes. The system also allows controlled access that is provided to claim handlers and employees directly from the administrator dashboard while authorised users can access the system from any device, any time without having to install the software.

and performance efficiency. On top of that, working with RCI Insurance not only improved our understanding of the insurance industry, but also gave us the ability to cater for multinational business needs. RCI Insurance has definitely made ICON a more dynamic, versatile, and fast paced company.” Besides achieving over 30% increase in staff productivity, ICON’s solution also meant a more streamlined system for the submission of claims where total clicks have been reduced from fifteen to just seven. RCI Insurance’s commissioning of a claims management platform was a one-off project but when the company recognized the value of its relationship with ICON, the agility in execution and the flexibility we offer, they switched to ICON’s framework agreement.

“What this essentially means is that at the beginning of the year, RCI Insurance provides us with their high-level vision which we then transform into tangible MVPs which we release every 6 weeks with the ability to change their A key feature of ICON’s platform is its requirements or re-prioritise the MVPs based flexibility as it allows our business users on their business needs,” adds Christine. to quickly adapt to market changes. The system is also multilingual, supports multi- “Today, ICON deploys our Claims Management currency and can be configured to support System across our new markets, and they help various insurance products, workflows, us launch new insurance products. A very and reporting metrics. The platform is smooth synergy has been created by between also interconnectable with both internal our internal team of developers and business and external software systems to ensure analysts and the team contracted from ICON data consistency and a real-time view of a who working hand in hand, have managed customer’s claims process. And given the to create a ‘hybrid team’ that allows us the highly regulated industry we operate in, key flexibility that they need,” adds Mr Bovo. importance was placed to ensure the system meets the regulatory requirements across “Most importantly, our employees’ feedback the different target countries,” added Mr has been most positive as they have told us Bovo. that they are now enjoying a greater user experience. My advice to anyone thinking of “Collaboration with RCI Insurance has been undertaking a digital transformation project a great opportunity and a learning curve for would be to find a partner who collaborates ICON. Our tech team unlocked the potential closely with you from the beginning to get the of the latest technologies and delivered a best solution out to the market. We found this solution that achieves modularity, scalability, in ICON,” concluded Mr Bovo.

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Corporate

STAKEHOLDER OUTLOOK

Facilitating Malta’s Twin Transition Prof Josef Bonnici Chairman Malta Development Bank

Throughout the centuries crises have spurred innovation and creativity. Innovation has been important in keeping many people’s lives and livelihoods safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Meal and grocery delivery services have become more common, in-person meetings have been replaced by video conferencing, and in certain cases health care visits have been replaced by virtual consultations. However, economies are not yet out of the woods, with entrepreneurs facing multidirectional challenges including supply chain disruptions, an inflationary spiral, war on Europe’s borders, and a challenging human resource market.

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This disruption is accompanying and accelerating a significant transformation that came to reflect the post-pandemic reality. This transformation broadly has two strands: green and digital. These new realities are transforming business strategies, technological invention and adoption, the consumption of digital applications, and information exchange on both human and machine-learning realms.

to finance their needs, not least because both digitalisation and green technology often do not entail assets which banks conventionally accept as collateral. In this context, after a wide consultative process, the Bank has launched an expression of interest inviting commercial banks to become banking partners to participate in two new MDB schemes, namely the MDB’s Guaranteed Co-Lending Scheme (GCLS) and SME Guarantee Scheme (SGS). Both these schemes are supported by the EIF’s Pan-European Guarantee Fund (EGF). These instruments will make more than €150 million available for SMEs supporting their drive to grow and innovate. These will serve as an important contribution to the Maltese economy’s efforts to recover and regenerate itself following the pandemic.

On one hand, the integration of digital technology into all aspects of a business is fundamentally transforming how businesses operate and deliver value to customers, while also increasing the competitiveness of certain industrial sectors, affecting both the private and public sectors. This transformation is opening up new markets even for smaller firms with the appropriate business model which can now extend their reach in ways never considered before. Machine Although these schemes will be available to automation is also taking over a multitude of SMEs in all economic sectors, the MDB will be tasks. encouraging those investment projects that aim to build a greener, more digital, modern, On the other hand, the green economy innovative and resilient Maltese economy. is described as a low-carbon, resource- The MDB strongly believes that this is the efficient, and socially inclusive economy that way forward to propel Malta into the next pursues knowledge and practices that can level of growth. It is aware that many local lead to more environmentally friendly and entrepreneurs have the right ideas to make ecologically responsible actions, business this happen, and we will be there to support models and lifestyles. What was simply a them to get their projects off the ground. backburner issue until a few years ago, going green today is rapidly being transformed On the other hand, the green economy is described as from an option into an obligation, if not an economic necessity. a low-carbon, resource-efficient, and socially inclusive MDB’S NEW INCENTIVES The Malta Development Bank (MDB)’s mandate of delivering promotional banking services include a wide variety of operations when there is evidence of market failure. To that aim, the Bank considers investments by entrepreneurs which seek to combine green and digital as its main priority in the months ahead. The Bank is well aware that despite the importance of such investments, firms still struggle to secure the appropriate credit

economy that pursues knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible actions, business models and lifestyles. What was simply a backburner issue until a few years ago, going green today is rapidly being transformed from an option into an obligation, if not an economic necessity.

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SUPPLY CHAIN SUPPORT While these two schemes are intended to push local firms towards the next level of growth, the Bank is strongly aware of the more immediate challenges being caused by geo-political tensions in Ukraine. As was the case with the Covid-19 Guarantee Scheme, the Bank was quick to act and adopt its offering to meet the reality of local firms. In this context, the MDB has launched the MDB Subsidised Loans Scheme following the approval of the European Commission under the Temporary Crisis Framework for State Aid. This support measure is intended to ensure the security of supply of grains, animal feeds and related products of strategic importance by assisting importers and wholesalers through the provision of temporary liquidity support primarily to build inventories. The MDB will also be offering derisking instrument with broader eligibility to enable the provision of more accessible

and affordable working capital loans, thus reducing the impact on all the affected economic operators. This Liquidity Support Guarantee Scheme will be intermediated by partner credit institutions and shall cover urgent liquidity needs for working capital purposes, including higher prices for the importation of raw materials and primary goods, higher costs related to electricity and gas and other increases in working capital costs incurred by undertakings through a direct or indirect effect of the crisis.

In MDB’s short but intensive five-year history, we had the opportunity to witness first-hand the creativity and forwardlooking vision of local entrepreneurs. All this bodes well for future economic growth and quality job creation prospects. With the right tools supporting this vision, the MDB is positioning itself to truly act as one of the leading institutions supporting Malta’s economic renewal.

MDB’S NEW INVESTMENT SCHEMES The MDB’s Guaranteed Co-Lending Scheme (GCLS) is a risk-sharing facility involving colending between the MDB and accredited commercial banks on a 50:50 basis, plus an additional uncapped MDB guarantee on the commercial banks’ part of the loan. The targeted GCLS global loan portfolio is €100 million, half funded by MDB and the other half by the participating commercial banks. Following MDB’s agreement with the European Investment Fund under the EGF, the Bank will be able to offer larger loans under this scheme, as well as an uncapped guarantee rate of 60% on the commercial bank’s financing. This will reduce substantially the banks’ exposure to credit risks and should therefore contribute to enhance significantly access to bank financing to SMEs for new investments. The maximum loan amount under the GCLS is €10 million and the scheme will be available until December 2024. The SME Guarantee Scheme (SGS), which is also partly backed by the EGF, will offer an uncapped guarantee of 80% on a portfolio of up to €80 million. The SGS will build on the success of the MDB’s previous guarantee scheme for SMEs and will be the first uncapped guarantee product offered by the Bank which previously only offered guarantees which were capped at a portfolio level. The SGS will thus enhance enterprises’ access to bank credit for new investment as well as other purposes, including for working capital related to new investment and business transfers. The facility enables commercial banks to be more responsive to the borrowing requirements of smaller businesses, which, in turn, allows these businesses to fulfil their growth ambitions. This scheme will also be available until December 2024.

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Corporate

Malta Insights

MALTA: SERVICES DRIVE ECONOMY FORWARD IN FIRST QUARTER As pandemic-related restrictions eased during the first half of 2021, Malta’s economic recovery remained strong, with improved business and consumer sentiment, strong growth in investment and exports, together with improved tourismrelated activities. Indeed, tourism recovery, which is often described as a fundamental element of economic activity in Malta, has been significantly visible in recent months. Reaching 77.8%, the seat load factor (SLF) for the month of April was just 5.6% below pre-pandemic levels, indicating an encouraging demand for travel, according to the Malta International Airport. The recent S&P Global Ratings report indicated that economic growth in our country has been very strong, noting how investment has increased by a remarkable 19%.

The services sector, particularly financial services, appear to have so far managed to have cushioned the impact of Malta’s placement in the enhanced monitoring procedures, known as grey-listing. Although no final decision had been taken at time of publication, government appeared confident that all actions required by the FATF were implemented and was largely optimistic on a possible exit from this predicament by early Summer. This strong position was late in Spring confirmed by Fitch Ratings which has affirmed Malta’s LongTerm Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘A+’ with a Stable Outlook. The agency said that Malta’s rating is supported by high per-capita income levels, a large net external creditor position and a pre-pandemic record of strong growth and sizeable debt reduction. These strengths are

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balanced against its large banking sector, the small size of its economy, which is highly vulnerable to external developments, and a recent deterioration in public finances with large fiscal deficits, which have led to a sharp increase in the moderate public debt burden. The Central Bank of Malta’s Business Conditions Index for April indicates that annual growth in business activity remains above its long-term average, though normalising at lower levels from previous months. The European Commission’s Confidence Survey shows that economic sentiment in Malta declined in April when compared with a month earlier and stood below its year-ago level. However, it was still above its long-term average. Strong GDP growth registered: During the first quarter of 2022, Malta’s GDP rose by 10.8% in nominal terms and 6.9% in volume terms, when compared to the corresponding quarter of 2021, as a strong recovery builds strength. Data by the NSO shows that this growth was fuelled by the services sector, which has contributed 7%, while industry added a meagre 0.1%. Conversely and perhaps surprisingly, construction had a negative contribution of 0.2%. Compared to the same quarter last year, Service activities increased by 8.2% and Industry by 1.5% in volume terms. A drop of 9.5% and 3.9% was recorded in Agriculture and fishing activities and Construction, respectively. The increase in Services was mainly driven by the following sectors: Accommodation and food service activities (243.4%), Information and communication (14.3%), Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (16.5%) Arts, entertainment and recreation (9.2%), and Professional, scientific and technical activities (4.2%). Net taxes on products contributed positively towards GDP growth, with an increase of 14.0 per cent in volume terms. Jobless rate at historical lows: The job market continued to flourish with firms struggling to recruit the necessary talent. The unemployment rate for April 2022 stood at 3.1%, according to NSO data, therefore declining by 0.1% when compared with the previous month and by 0.3% from April

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2021. During April 2022, the number of unemployed persons was 8,834, with the unemployed males and the 25 to 74 age group being the major contributors to the overall level of unemployment. The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed youths amounted to 1,863, whereas those aged between 25 and 74 years stood at 6,971. For April 2022, the unemployment rate for males was 3.6%, declining by 0.2% when compared with the previous month. The rate for females stood at 2.4 per cent, unchanged when compared to March 2022. The unemployment rate for persons aged 15 to 24 years (youth unemployment rate) was 6.8%, while the rate for those aged between 25 and 74 years remained stable at 2.7%. Exports, Imports on the up: During the first quarter of the year, the total trade in goods deficit widened by €245.0 million when compared to the


corresponding period of 2021, reaching €640.6 million, according to NSO data. Imports and exports increased by €406.5 million and €161.4 million, respectively, and amounted to €1,636.9 million and €996.3 million). Higher imports were mainly recorded in Machinery and transport equipment (€147.1 million), Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (€144.1 million), and Chemicals (€48.7 million). On the exports side, Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (€119.0 million), Food (€31.1 million), Chemicals (€23.1 million), and Semi-manufactured goods (€20.3 million) accounted for the main increases, partly offset by a decrease in Machinery and transport equipment (€24.5 million). Inflation worries persist: In April 2022, the annual rate of inflation as measured by the HICP edged up further, reaching 5.4%, up from 4.5% March. As a result, the 12-month moving average rate for April stood at 2.1%. The highest annual inflation rates in April 2022 were recorded in Food and non-alcoholic beverages (9%) and Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (8.6%). On the other hand, the lowest annual inflation rates were registered in communication (-1.8%) and Alcoholic beverages and tobacco. Malta’s cost of living rate remained the lowest in the EU. Debt levels grow: By the end of April 2022, Government has already accumulated a deficit exceeding €388 million, data released by the NSO has shown. In the first four months of 2022, Recurrent Revenue amounted to €1,595.3 million, 16.5 per cent higher than the €1,369.7 million reported a year earlier. The largest increase was recorded under Income Tax (€82.4 million), followed by Value Added Tax (€53.0 million). Recurrent Expenditure totalled €1,769.7 million, an increase of €35.9 million in comparison to the €1,733.8 million reported by the end of April 2021. The main contributor to this increase was a €46.2 million increase reported under Programmes and Initiatives. The main developments in the Programmes and Initiatives category involved added outlays towards Economic stimulus payments (€48.1 million) and Tax relief measures (€25.7 million). This means that after four months the country’s deficit stands at €388.7 million.

The debt level reached €8.3 billion at the end of 2021, up €1.3 billion in a year. The increase in general government debt, which now stands at 57 percent of GDP, is due to Covid-19 related initiatives and loan increases, among others. The majority of this debt is held in government stocks and treasury bills, representing 83% of total debt. Almost all the debt owed by the General Government sector is in national currency. The stock of debt in foreign currencies has decreased considerably over the years. Economy to grow further as tourism improves: Major international players, such as the European Commission and credit rating agencies, still expect Malta’s economy to grow in 2022, but the disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine remained a dampener. According to the latest Economic Forecast by the European Commission, Real GDP growth is forecast to reach 4.2%, which is substantially less than expected in winter, although Malta has very low direct exposure to trade with Russia and Ukraine. Growth in 2022 is set to be driven by domestic consumption, investment, and a small positive contribution from net exports. Export of tourism services is expected to continue gaining ground on the back of easing pandemic-restrictions. Significant government expenditure, in particular via public investment and a new wave of European Union funding, will continue to support the economy. In 2023, growth is forecast to decrease to a still strong 4.0%, reflecting a general slowdown in performance among trading partners. The country’s unemployment rate, at 3.5% in 2021, is set to remain broadly stable in 2022 and 2023. Credit rating agency Fitch has forecasted that Malta’s tourism sector will further recover this year as tourist arrivals remained 65% below their 2019 level in 2021. Private consumption and services exports are projected to further increase in 2022/23, albeit more moderately compared with our previous forecast.

Sources NSO Central Bank of Malta Quarterly Review European Commission Spring Economic Forecast Standard and Poor’s Credit Rating – March 2022 Fitch Credit Rating – May 2022

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Corporate

European Insights

FISHING

OVERFISHING IN EU WATERS IN DECLINE The European Commission has published the annual review of EU’s fisheries management and outlining priorities ahead for 2023, indicating that conservation efforts are further bearing fruit and the EU fisheries policy has been delivering in reducing overfishing in European waters. The report says that further efforts are still needed to protect marine resources, both through maintaining high levels of ambition within the EU and by striving to achieve the same high standard in the work with non-EU countries, like Norway, UK and the Coastal States. The stocks in northeast Atlantic areas are, on average, within levels that deliver the highest sustainable yields into the future. For the Mediterranean, the situation has further improved

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but there is still a long way to go. In the Baltic Sea, due to eutrophication, low oxygen levels in the water are hindering the normal growth and reproduction of fish and protective measures have been put in place.

HEALTH

BEATING CANCER: EU SEEKS TO ADDRESS THE RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN On the occasion of the European Week Against Cancer, the Commission has published a study on the access to financial products for persons with a history of cancer, the so called ‘right to be forgotten’, in the EU and set out the next steps for action under Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. The study highlights broad support for EU level policy to ensure fair access to products such as life insurances,


and loans or credits. This includes actions to raise awareness, enhance the exchange of knowledge, experiences and practices as well as regular updates on scientific evidence. The outcomes of this exploratory study appear to imply that access to financial products for persons with a history of cancer is a topic of attention in most European Member States. Furthermore, most Member States and key stakeholders are positive with respect to a further exploration of EU level action that would support access to financial products for persons with a history of cancer in all Member States.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

ESG FUNDS PERFORM BETTER, COST LESS THAN OTHER FUNDS - ESMA The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s securities markets regulator, has published a study looking at the potential reasons behind the relatively lower ongoing costs, and better performance, of environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds compared to other funds. ESMA recently determined that ESG equity undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS), excluding exchange-traded funds, were cheaper and better performers in 2019 and 2020 compared to non-ESG peers. Understanding the cost and performance

dynamics of ESG funds is of particular interest as it may bring insights for the overall fund industry on how to make funds more affordable and profitable for retail investors. The full study is available here. EUROPEAN LONG-TERM INVESTMENT FUNDS: COUNCIL ADOPTS ITS POSITION The European Council has adopted its position to improve the European long-term investment funds (ELTIFs) regulation to facilitate long-term investment in the real economy. The updated regulation will make these investment funds more attractive to asset managers and investors, and develop the number of such investment funds in Europe. ELTIFs are important funds to help finance the green and digital transitions, and they can help finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They have an important role to play in the deepening of the Capital Markets Union (CMU). ELTIFs are the only type of funds dedicated to longterm investments which can be distributed on a cross-border basis to both professional and retail investors. However, since its adoption, only a limited number of ELTIFs have been launched, and only in four member states (France, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain), due to significant constraints in the distribution process and stringent rules on portfolio composition.

SECURITY

NEW LEGISLATION ADDS TO EUROPOL’S RESPONSIBILITIES The Council and the European Parliament have agreed to strengthen Europol’s capacity to better support member states in combating new threats in the Union. The text introduces improvements in areas such as research and innovation, processing of large data sets and cooperation with private parties and third countries. Europol may also propose opening a national investigation into noncross-border crimes affecting a common interest covered by an EU policy. It will be up to the national authorities to decide whether or not to comply with this request. Europol will also support member states in the processing of data transmitted by third countries or international organisations and may propose that member states enter information alerts in the Schengen Information System (SIS).

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Corporate

GEOPOLITICAL STORY

Queen Elizabeth And The 70-Year Reign Among all the chaos in the world, for these last 70 years there has been one constant, one beacon of stability...Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth, who was born April 21, 1926, but whose birthday is marked nationally on the second Saturday of June, broke the former record reign for a British monarch — set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria — in 2015.

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he was crowned in the aftermath of World War II, outlived nine prime ministers, and saw the Iron Curtain rise and fall before witnessing Britain’s exit from the European Union. Only three other monarchs have reigned longer than 70 years: Liechtenstein’s Johann II, France’s Louis XIV and Thailand’s Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016.

She is the united in the kingdom.

A queen of Britain and the Commonwealth but also a source of respect for others who weren’t. Even North Korea’s Kim Jong Un felt the need to congratulate her on her 70 years on the throne. Free from criticism though she was not. Though in most cases this was more often than not directed at those around her then directly to her. These last years were bumpy... Brexit, the controversy around Prince Harry and Meghan and the scandal surrounding her son Prince Andrew. Queen Elizabeth has been on “light duties” since an overnight hospital stay in October 2021 followed by a minor back injury. This continued when the British monarch tested positive for COVID-19 in early 2022. The Queen has just celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, but she was just seen at the start as she had to rest due to her mobility issues sending Prince Charles in her place.

A celebration that some interpreted as a farewell too

Many Britons are already bracing for her exit from the royal stage especially after her husband, Prince Philip, died in 2021. She has become increasingly frail. After falling ill with

She does her job and stays out of politics. Charles on the other hand has been known to routinely meddle in political issues and write sometimes in extreme terms to ministers, MPs and others in positions of political power.

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COVID-19 this year, she said it had left her “very exhausted and tired.” Once the inevitable happens, what comes next is known. Prince Charles. Unlike the Queen, Charles has known from birth that he will be the monarch. Prince Charles will be crowned king in a much different world from when his mother acceded to the throne in 1952. Also at 73, he is nearly three times older than his mother was when she became queen at 25. A monarch who some argue doesn’t accept that his authority has nothing to do with his ability and everything to do with birth. He will inherit somewhat similar problems she did...she had the end of colonial rule around the world and he will be confronted with the survival of the monarchy abroad where Republicanism is growing in some places. Besides the United Kingdom — England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland — the British monarch also reigns over Canada, Australia and a dozen other nations that were former colonies, mostly in the Caribbean and the South Pacific. But this royal family or the Firm as it is known has the capacity for survival. One of Queen Elizabeth’s main strengths is her modesty. She does her job and stays out of politics. Charles on the other hand has been known to routinely meddle in political issues and write sometimes in extreme terms to ministers, MPs and others in positions of political power. When dominant leaders retire their successors struggle to repeat their success. How much harder will it be to follow 70 years of a reign that even republicans concede has been an accomplished performance? In the meantime, nearly no one envisages the Queen abdicating and she has made it very clear that is not in her plans. Though all these years have passed, still fresh in people’s memories is the oath she made on her 21st birthday, in 1947: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”



Corporate

Ukraine is Europe Roberta Metsola by Denise Grech

Europe will continue to stand with Ukraine, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said, as she addressed MEPs in Strasbourg.

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peaking before Verkhovna Rada chairman Ruslan Stefanchouk, Metsola said that what Ukraine has had to endure was unthinkable a few months ago. “However,your people have inspired the world. Your courage, your determination and your defiance in the name of liberty will be spoken about for generations to come,” she said. “Europeans opened their borders, their homes and their hearts to 6 million Ukrainians forced to flee their homeland. We have sent military, financial, political and humanitarian support. And we will continue,” she added. She insisted that the European Parliament will not lose momentum or focus. “We cannot turn away and allow war fatigue to set in,” Metsola said, adding that the European Parliament will continue to support Ukraine with any assistance needed to push back against the consequences of the Russian invasion. “And we will try to help push peace forward. A real peace. In Europe, we understand only too painfully that peace without liberty, peace without justice, is no peace at all,” she added. The European Parliament will also continue actively supporting Ukraine as it applies for EU candidate status, she added. “We know how important it is to send a clear signal that Ukraine’s place is within our European family. To tell everyone that Ukraine is Europe,” she said. “We also need to start a proper discussion on the recovery and rebuilding of Ukraine. As I said in Kyiv - we will help rebuild every city and every town from Mariupol to Irpin, from Kherson to Kharkiv. And we will hold war criminals accountable,” she added. Addressing the house, Stefanchuk outlined how the initial Russian assault on Ukraine had shocked his country and the entire world, but that Ukrainians had quickly realised what they needed to do: unite against the aggressor.

Europeans opened their borders, their homes and their hearts to 6 million Ukrainians forced to flee their homeland. We have sent military, financial, political and humanitarian support. And we will continue Praising President Metsola for being one of the first European leaders to visit Ukraine following the outbreak of the war, he also thanked European countries for their response to the Russian aggression, for welcoming Ukrainian refugees, and for standing with the people of Ukraine in these dark times. At the same time, he raised the prospect of more action in the event of the war continuing, including further EU sanctions, even as they start to negatively impact European economies. “Because the price for defeat will be way bigger,” he said. This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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Corporate

European Parliament calls for EU Treaties revision so that EU is no longer ‘held hostage’ By Denise Grech

The European Parliament has formally called on member states to agree to a Convention on revising the EU Treaties so the EU is no longer held hostage by a single government when it comes to decisive action through veto votes.

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F

aced with the Covid pandemic and more recently with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the serious limitations in the EU’s capacity to act quickly and effectively became clearer to the public eye. To overcome any shortcomings, the Parliament is proposing a resolution that triggers Article 48 and suggests specific Treaty changes like removing unanimity on issues like sanctions, giving the EU competence over cross-border health policy and adding social progress as an irreversible aim in the EU.

pandemics or responding to illegal attacks on European soil. Our evergreen promise to people is to make Europe more social and improve the quality of everyone’s lives, no matter where they live in the EU. Now is the time to deliver on our promises and to start the Treaty reform process to bring about the real changes we urgently need,” he added.

Gabriele Bischoff MEP, S&D vice-president and negotiator on Parliament’s call for a Convention on Treaty revision, said that the days of the EU being held hostage by the veto need to be over. “Recent events have laid bare the fact that decisive and urgent action in the EU is too often stopped in its tracks by a small minority who abuse the veto,” he said.

The Irish Taoiseach threw his public support behind Treaty change in an address to Parliament earlier this month.

“As elected representatives, we have made promises to change the way the EU works and give the Union more capacity to act in the face of emergencies like health

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“EU leaders must make it a priority to discuss Treaty change at the next European Council at the end of June,” Bischoff said.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.


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EU.Review By Keith Zahra

Prolonged War, High inflation raises concern on growth prospects

The European Union had approached the beginning of 2022 with positivity driven by an expansionary phase on the back of an improving health situation, a growing labour market, significant accumulated savings and the disbursement of millions of euro as part of the Recovery and Resilience Facility. The prolonged war in Ukraine has diluted such expectations, resulting in significant pressure on commodities, including energy and grain, and increased uncertainty. Energy prices had already rebounded strongly from the peak days of the pandemic as supply struggled

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to match the global economic rebound. However, given the Russian dominance of the oil and gas market, prices edged up further, and with EU leaders reaching an agreement earlier this month to significantly reduce purchases from the belligerent nation, the full impact might yet to be seen. The war has impacted other commodities, including some industrial metals such as nickel and copper, as well as neon gas, which is a key input for semiconductors. High inflation levels are expected to impact significantly consumer purchasing power, particularly for lower income families who tend to


devote a higher percentage of their available income on such items. Indeed, there are already indications that towards the end of the first quarter, consumption growth in the EU has paused, though economists are still positive that government support measures, a strong labour market and the post-pandemic increase in expenditure will continue to support economic expansion. Growth remains strong in Q1: In the first quarter of 2022, seasonally adjusted GDP increased by 0.2% in the euro area and by 0.4% in the EU, compared with the previous quarter, according to a preliminary flash estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the fourth quarter of 2021, GDP had grown by 0.3% in the euro area and 0.5% in the EU. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP increased by 5.0% in the euro area and by 5.2% in the EU in the first quarter of 2022, after +4.7% in the euro area and +4.9% in the EU in the previous quarter. The year-onyear growth rates were positive for all countries. Inflation takes the headlines: Despite this positive growth, it was inflation, however, that continued to take the headlines, reaching yet another record in May, reaching a staggering 8.1% from 7.4% in April. Prices have risen sharply across Europe over the past year, initially on supply chain problems after the pandemic, then following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, impacting energy and fuel prices significantly. This is expected to create challenges to the European Central Bank which had for months held the view that gradual interest rate increases from July will be enough to tame stubbornly high price growth. Retail on the move: In the euro area in March 2022,

compared with March 2021, the volume of retail trade increased by 8.3% for automotive fuels, and by 2.8% for non-food products, while it fell by 2.5% for food, drinks and tobacco, according to Eurostat data. Among Member States, the highest yearly increases in the total retail trade volume were registered in Slovenia (+25.6%), Estonia (+18.4%) and Malta (+16.4%). The largest decreases were observed in Denmark (-11.0%), Spain (-4.8%), and Belgium (-3.9%). Industry struggles: In March 2022, the seasonally adjusted industrial production fell by 1.8% in the euro area and by 1.2% in the EU, compared with February 2022, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In February 2022, industrial production increased by 0.5% in the euro area and by 0.6% in the EU. In March 2022 compared with March 2021, industrial production decreased by 0.8% in the euro area and increased by 0.7% in the EU. A job-seekers market: Another factor which experts consider might be contributing to inflation is the persistent skills gap which is challenging firms across the continent, as unemployment levels decline further. In 2021, the EU economy added some 5.2 million jobs and attracted nearly 3.5 million more people into the labour market. With unemployment rates at record-low levels, a rapid increase in unfilled vacancies and a growing share of firms reporting labour shortages as a factor limiting their production, labour markets in the EU have tightened. In April 2022, the euro area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 6.8%, stable compared

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with March 2022 and down from 8.2% in April 2021. The EU unemployment rate was 6.2% in April 2022, also stable compared with March 2022 and down from 7.5% in April 2021. Compared with April 2021, unemployment decreased by 2.543 million in the EU and by 2.175 million in the euro area. Uncertainty going forward: Forecasting the future has been made harder given the evolving situation in Ukraine. The lengthening of the crisis could further increase import prices with a significant negative impact on domestic demand and by consequence on public budgets. Uncertain economic activity in the United States and China also add to the challenges ahead. COVID-19 also remains a risk factor, as the lockdowns in Shanghai and other parts of China earlier this year have proven. The growth forecast for the world economy in 2022 has been downgraded by more than 1% compared to the previous forecast. Economists expect Real GDP growth in the EU to remain subdued in the second quarter of 2022. High energy prices, persistent supply-side disruptions and the unfolding effects from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are expected to dampen growth dynamics in the second quarter. The performance of the services sector, buoyed by the removal of pandemic restrictions, is expected to remain the bright side of the economy. The EU Spring Economic Forecast argues that private consumption could prove more resilient to increasing prices if households were to use more of their savings for consumption. Investments fostered by the RRF could generate a stronger impulse to economic activity. Finally, an accelerated reduction of fossil fuel dependency and green transition could reduce the negative impact of high energy prices faster than assumed. Despite such hopes, the EU has revised downwards its expectations for 2022. GDP growth is expected to slow down from 5.4% in 2021 to 2.7% in 2022 in both the EU and the euro area, the latter being 1.3% than originally forecast last Winter. Annual GDP growth should moderate further in 2023, to 2.3% in the EU and the euro area, which is markedly lower than expected in the winter (2.8% in the EU, 2.7% in the euro area). The Commission expects that the positive effects of the Recovery and Resilience Plans are set to be a key driver of public investment, even if the realisation of

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several planned investments may be affected by supply bottlenecks (e.g. material scarcity) and cost increases. Public investment in the EU is projected to increase stronger than GDP, raising the public investment-to-GDP ratio for a fifth consecutive year, from 3.2% last year to 3.4% in 2022 and 3.5% in 2023. Improving fiscal positions: As Governments across the continent have gradually withdrawn temporary measures taken in response to the pandemic, deficit rates in the EU have fallen down from 4.7% of GDP in 2021 to an expected 3.6% this year, despite the additional costs – forecasted at 0.6% of GDP to cushion the impact of high energy prices. Despite this improvement, a number of political leaders and economists have already questioned whether the suspension of fiscal rules should remain in place for a year longer. The debt-to-GDP ratio for the EU as a whole is set to decline to 85% of GDP by 2023, remaining above the pre-COVID-19 crisis level. Sources: Eurostat EU Spring Economic Forecast


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Over A Coffee With Gerald Grech By James Vella Clark

GERALD GRECH is a senior lecturer at the University of Malta’s Junior College where he has been lecturing Marketing for the past 22 years. But Gerald also happens to be an accomplished Maltese runner having represented Malta at the Youth Olympics, the University Games, Small Nations Games, and the European Team Championships. Today he is also President of Libertas Malta Athletics Club.

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After achieving a series of prestigious results, Gerald underwent an Achilles tendon surgery in 2017 followed by nine months of intensive rehab before starting to run again. “I believe that my stoic approach to life and my selfdisciplined character helped get through this negative patch,” he confesses in this interview.

“In fact, I value discipline a lot and am determined in all that I set out to do, be it at work, in sport and life in general.” When Gerald is not lecturing or training, you will most probably find him travelling, hiking, learning more about psychology, philosophy, languages, and gastronomy.

You are a protagonist in Malta’s athletic scene. How did it all start?

At age 10, I recall attending Sports Day at St. Aloysius College where I attended my secondary school and 6th form years to watch my cousin compete. That was when I just fell in love with running. I kept practising athletics at school, but it was only when I was 15 that I decided to take it more seriously. I joined Libertas and started competing whilst being coached by my uncle Emy Azzopardi thanks to whom I won a number of national junior and senior titles in the long sprint events namely the 200 metres and 400 metres.

What made you shift to longer distance running?

In 1995, I met Ivan Rozhnov at the Small Nations Games in Luxembourg who became and still is my coach. Under his direction we first shifted to the middle-distance events, namely the 800m and 1500m in which I registered some of the fastest all-time Maltese performances. After 2004 I started road running with 5km races and half marathons

and longer distances on the track. Eventually in 2013, I also debuted in the mountain and trail running scene taking part in major World Mountain Running Championships. Today I am back to my middle-distance track and road races.

What would you list amongst your most important personal achievements?

1995-1998 National Junior and Senior Champion titles in 200m and 400m; 1998 - 2004 Running my best times ever on the track clocking 1’54”76 in the 800m in year 2000), clocking 4’01”02 in the 1500m in 2004); the 3000m in 8:42’43 in 2004. The latter results are still ranked in the top 10 all-time Maltese performances on the respective distances. Between 2004 and 2005 I was Road Running League Champion and national track champion on 3000m and 5000m. In 2011 I was the first Maltese runner and 2nd overall in the Malta International Half Marathon, in 2019 and 2020 I came 2nd overall in the Malta Trail League and Xterra Gozo 21k and in 2021 I achieved a national record for M45 category on 1500m with a time of 4’31’15.

Describe your typical training week ?

For many years, my 100km a week schedule consisted of daily runs and two main highintensity workouts and double sessions four days a week. But following the Achilles tendon surgery and after intensive rehab, I switched to a cross-training regime of 5 weekly runs, bike sessions on the road, gym workouts and recovery sea swims.

What inspires you most?

Mountain scenery, open green spaces, turquoise blue seas, and resilient, critical thinking humans are the things that inspire me the most.

How do you tackle your training from a mental perspective? What are the 31


things that you think of when you are running? In sport, mindset is everything and so it is in running. Competitive training requires a lot of mental self-discipline to keep up the hours of regular training. When I run, I focus on the running itself to reach an optimal experience of flow where running becomes a meditative experience.

A few years back you started promoting mountain running and today you are also hosting your annual event. Tell us more about this?

Mountain running is an established worldwide sport and a discipline of athletics with events of varying distances and altitudes from short to medium uphill and downhill mountain races to long-distance trail running across distances that range from 40km to 100km and more at over 2000m elevations.

SOME QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS Favourite food: Thai Curry Favourite drink: Green Tea Favourite spot in Malta: Għajn Tuffieħa Beach Summer or Winter? Summer Most memorable race: The 2014 World Mountain Running Championship in Massa Carrara, Italy running 11km uphill in a white marble quarry! A disappointing moment/main running career Regret: My main regret in my competitive running career was not breaking 4 mins on 1500m, especially when I knew I was prepared on several occasions to run at least 3’55. It was probably more of a mental barrier. Your favourite trait about yourself: Perseverance What would you like to be remembered for most: Longevity in competitive sport!

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In 2013 the first National Mountain Running Championships were held – an event which this year saw its 10th edition - a countryside route from Mġarr up through Binġemma and ending in Kunċizzjoni on the outskirts of Rabat covering a distance of 5.6km with an elevation climb of 150 metres. Team Malta has since then been regularly participating in major World and European Mountain running championships.

What are your future projects?

One of my near future projects involves Libertas Malta Athletics Club which together with a newly elected committee, we want to strengthen and establish as one of the top running clubs on the island. This year I was also elected on the council of Athletics Malta where I have committed to contribute my experience for the future development of athletics in Malta. However I am also determined to try and set some new national records on middle-distance events in the Masters categories.


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CULTURE AND ARTS

Phygital… What Is That? By Sandro Debono PhD Museology, Art History and Curatorial Practice

Let’s go straight to the point. Linguistically, the word phygital is a combination of the words “physical” and “digital” to signify the ever-growing experiential crossreferencing and amalgamation of these two worlds. In other words, the term refers to the ways and means how these two realms — physical and digital — have melted into each other and hence increasingly difficult to inhabit them separately. The term is not new. It has been coined way back in 2013 by Momentum, an Australian branding and marketing company, but has gained traction in recent times particularly in the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic.

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Scenario 1. Physical with a token of digital

This scenario refers to a physical museum space with a digital presence. Museums that classify within this scenario are usually small to medium-sized museums with a ‘token’ online presence providing general information that serves the purpose of promoting the experience within the physical museum space. Museums with superficial digital campaigns, token websites and interpretative content that is one and the same as that available in the physical space irrespective of whether it is used for the physical or the digital can be associated with this scenario.

Scenario 2 . Physical with digital as an extension

S

This scenario would refer to a physical museum experience extended into the digital whereby the character and content of each are practically one and the same. A good example of this category would refer to museums with virtual tours that are, to all intents and purposes, an extension of the physical experience. With virtual tours the physical visit is replicated warts and all into the digital. It is but an online twin of the physical experience but relatively restrained by comparison given its reliance on camera viewpoints.

o far so good. Phygital would refer to the dialectic, interface, overlap, and contamination between physical and digital. But how would the two combine? To what extent, in what form, and what type of interface would be the case for the phygital museum experience? Would the physical be the dominant element albeit having a comfortable overlap with digital? Or would the phygital be primarily digital with a This scenario would refer to the digital as a physical overlap? pointer to the physical museum experience. In I would like to propose five possible scenarios this case, the character of the digital content that might inform our reply to these is different from but also complementary legitimate questions. These are not to be to the museum’s physical experience. This read and understood as siloed categories scenario shows the digital complementing but more akin to bearings or what we might the physicality of the museum experience, perhaps define as the phygital museum serving to subtly promote content within the scale against which to measure phygital museum’s physical space. A good example of museum experiences. Indeed, five phygital this scenario is the Getty Museum Challenge, scenarios that can serve the purpose of now also a publication that invited the compass bearings towards which museums museum public at home to engage with can navigate or to use as a yardstick to content that is located within the physical museum space. understand better where they stand.

Scenario 3. Digital as a pointer to the physical

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Scenario 4. Parallel and cross-referenced existence of physical and digital

Scenario 5. Digital with a token of Physical

This scenario refers to a fully-fledged digital experience with a token physical presence that would concern material culture or a museum display, but which could be taken to extremes so as to refer to the physical location of the hardware. This predominantly digital scenario, which still concerns only a very small number of museums, is the one that has come out largely unscathed by the Covid-19 debacle. One of the very few museums that would fall within this category would be The Museum of Portable Sound, which is also a fully accredited ICOM member.

This scenario refers to the equilibrium between digital and physical with each experience being potentially autonomous albeit complementary to each other. Transmedia thinking, to which museums are increasingly becoming attracted to, would fall squarely within this scenario. The museum experiences that can be classified within this scenario would be those dispersed over multiple platforms, which can also be experienced individually or collectively as one overarching cross-media experience. The multi-platform museum idea is currently being explored by the Australian Centre of the Moving Image but there aren’t many These five scenarios would come with a list more museums to cite that are seriously of caveats of which I choose to list three. First, there is no ideal scenario to consider. considering this phygital experience.

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The phygital museum scale merely serves the purpose of helping museums understand much more the scope and purpose of the digital in relation to the physical. There may well be circumstances where the digital is not necessary or possible at all given technical problems such as low internet coverage. It may also be the case that museums willingly hop from one scenario to the other as digital literacy keeps increasing consistently. Secondly, the ideal mix between digital and physical remains subjectively pertinent to the specific museum and shall depend upon the specific context within which a given museum relates to. There is a potentially strong bond between museums and publics that is entirely within the remit of the museum to define and sustain. Relevance also concerns understanding the phygital as a means to an end rather than an end in itself.

Third, it may well be the case that some museums will favour an approach at the intersection between two scenarios, acknowledging the objectives of one whilst straddling those of the other. It may also be the case that some of the experiences that fall within one scenario might also be repurposed or reused for another. Last but not least, let’s not forget that every time we look up google maps to find our way, check restaurant reviews online before deciding where to have dinner with friends and colleagues or share our thoughts or reactions on social media we are interacting between digital and physical. Indeed, we are already phygital.

From the blog publication The Humanist Museum (Medium.com)

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BUSINESS REVIEW

Young People In Malta Buy More Fake Products And Continue To Access Pirated Content The 2022 edition of the Intellectual Property and Youth Scoreboard, released today by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), provides an update on the behaviours of young people towards intellectual property infringement in a postpandemic context.

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More than half (52 %) of Europeans surveyed aged between15 and 24 said they had bought at least one fake product online over the past year, both intentionally or by accident, and a third (33 %) said they had accessed digital content from illegal sources.

Purchase of fakes

Reflecting the post-pandemic context, the new survey confirmed that 37 % of young people bought one or several fake products intentionally, which is a significant increase compared to the previous results (14 % in 2019). The figure varies notably by country, with the highest percentage being in Greece (62 %) and the lowest in Czechia Looking at those who did it on purpose, (24 %). 37 % bought a fake product and 21 % used, played, downloaded, or streamed content The counterfeit products that young people from illegal sources. most commonly buy intentionally are clothes In Malta, 41 % of young people bought a and accessories (17 %), followed by footwear (14 %) fake intentionally and 43 % knowingly electronic devices (13 %), and hygiene, cosmetics, accessed pirated content, the highest personal care and perfumes (12 %). percentage in the EU for piracy.

But young people are also misled into buying fakes: unintentional purchase of fake products also stands at 37 % (1), and respondents acknowledged difficulties to distinguish genuine goods from counterfeits. 48 % had not bought such products or were unsure whether or not they had.

On the other hand, 60 % of young Europeans said they preferred to access digital content from legal sources, compared to 50 % in 2019. In Malta, this percentage amounts to 44 % of young people.

Price and availability remain the main factors for buying counterfeits and for As regards digital content, access from legal digital piracy, but peer and social influence sources is gaining ground among the younger generations. 60 % said that they had not used, is also increasingly important. played, downloaded or streamed content from Cyberthreats, cyber fraud and the illegal sources in the past year compared to 51 % in environmental impact are among the 2019, and 40 % in 2016, thus confirming the trend.

Online piracy

main deterrents. The 2022 edition of the Intellectual Property and Youth Scoreboard, released today by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), provides an update on the behaviours of young people towards intellectual property infringement in a post-pandemic context. The survey looks at the two sides of IP infringement: the trends in young people purchasing counterfeit goods and accessing pirated content, assessing trends since 2016.

However, intentional piracy remains stable, with 21 % of young consumers (one in five) acknowledging they had knowingly accessed pirated content in the last 12 months. A significant proportion of young people were misled into accessing pirated content. 12 % accessed pirated content by accident, and 7 % do not know if they have. The main type of pirated content was films (61 %) and TV series (52 %), followed by music (36 %), using mainly dedicated websites, apps and social media channels.

In light of the new results, the Executive Director Over half (52 %) of the youth surveyed had of the EUIPO, Christian Archambeau, said: bought at least one fake product online over This third edition of the IP and Youth the past year, intentionally or by accident, and a Scoreboard, published during the European third (33 %) had accessed illegal content online.

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Year of Youth, confirms the trends identified in previous editions and offers richer insights into youngsters’ perceptions and attitudes. At a time when e-commerce and digital consumption have been significantly growing, the increase in the intentional and unintentional purchase of fake goods is a worrying trend. As for piracy, it does not go down, even if young consumers increasingly prefer content from legal sources. This new analysis provides a valuable tool to help stakeholders, policy makers as well as educators and civil society organisations shape awarenessraising initiatives to support the informed choices of our young citizens and consumers.

accessing pirated content intentionally, social influences, such as the behaviour of family, friends, or people they know, are gaining significant ground. Other factors include not caring whether the product was a fake (or whether the content source was illegal), perceiving no difference between original and fake products, and the ease of finding or ordering fake products online. One in 10 respondents mentioned recommendations by influencers or famous people.

What makes young people think twice?

For both products and digital content, young people mentioned personal risks of cyber fraud and cyberthreats as important factors Key drivers behind buying fakes and accessing that would curb their behaviours. Also, a pirated content better understanding of the negative impact on the environment or on society are now While price and availability continue to be the more widely mentioned by the young people main reasons for buying fake products and surveyed.

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Attitudes towards piracy and counterfeiting amongst 15- to 24-year-olds in Malta

43%

44%

in Malta vs 21% in the EU have accessed pirated content intentionally in the last 12 months

in Malta vs 60% in the EU have not accessed pirated content

What types of content from illegal sources are accessed the most in Malta?*

Films

TV series/shows

64%

51%

Live sports

32%

22%

Video games

events 25%

Software

Music

28%

E-books 35%

*Percentages refer to respondents who intentionally accessed a particular kind of pirated content.

Increased purchase of counterfeit goods What fake products are intentionally bought the most in Malta?

41% in Malta

vs 37% in the EU intentionally bought at least one fake product in the last 12 months

15% Clothes

9% Footwear

13% Electronic

7% Hygiene,

and accessories

devices

cosmetics, personal care and perfume products

Helping young people make informed choices is key

Source: EUIPO IP and Youth scoreboard June 2022

www.euipo.europa.eu

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Corporate

BUSINESS REVIEW

Express Trailers Improves Operations With Newly Set Up Order Department The level of efficiency in handling clients’ requests and orders was already high but at Express Trailers. Nonetheless given that the company’s constant efforts to improve its operational efficiency, it has now set up a new Orders Department which brings together all the work carried out in three separate departments

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“The implementation of our new ERP meant that we had to adapt to a new IT set up and this required us to revisit our internal structures if we were to increase the efficiency and the level of service to our external customers and within our internal departments,” explains Franco Azzopardi, CEO of Express Trailers. “The implementation of our new ERP meant that we had to adapt to a new IT set up and this required us to revisit our internal structures if we were to increase the efficiency and the level of service to our external customers and within our internal departments,” explains Franco Azzopardi, CEO of Express Trailers. “This is why we set up our new Order Department which now brings together the tasks traditionally carried out by what were formally our new bookings department, our invoicing department, and the management of all the company’s contracts with its clients,” he added.

The creation of Express Trailers’ new Order Department was entrusted to Matthew Vella who is also responsible for the management of the company’s freight-forwarding team. The new team staffing this department consists of seven highly experienced employees in the fields of international operations, finance and freight forwarding. Albeit already very fluent in the company’s processes, they still underwent a rigorous training process to become experts in the processes of this new department. Today, thanks to their knowledge, they enjoy full flexibility to do each other’s jobs and can continue to contribute their experience for better efficiency.

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BUSINESS REVIEW

Connecting People To The TV Content They Love GO’s 15 Year Investment in TV Technology and Content Mandy Calleja Head of Corporate Communications, GO plc.

Fifteen years ago was the start of GO’s remarkable adventure with its television offering when it acquired Multiplus back in 2007, a start-up company that had started operations following the liberalisation of the pay TV sector in 2001. This acquisition was interesting for GO because Multiplus was the first start-up offering Digital Terrestrial Television (DTTV) – a cost-effective, viable and competitive TV alternative. This bold move was the stepping stone toward a journey that would turn GO into the leader and largest investor in the local TV market.

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G

O has always invested in its networks and infrastructure at the same pace of technological developments. It has gone from a linear TV service, dependent on the installation of unsightly roof top antennas, set-top boxes and inhouse wiring, to a fully integrated and interactive platform, which allows customers to fully dictate their individual experience on any of their preferred device, anyplace, anytime. This article will give an account of GO’s exciting TV story. If you are a TV buff and would like to take a trip down memory lane, then read on. From the outset, GO had an ambition to be the local leader in the provision of a complete telecommunications package that would provide customers with a holistic communications and entertainment package. In fact, the acquisition of Multiplus, made GO, then known as Maltacom, Malta’s first Quad-Play operator offering Fixed Voice, Internet, Mobile and TV. Once the acquisition was complete, plans were set in motion to enhance the level of digital TV service offered through the DTTV platform, both in terms of content, as well as service provision.

were as excited as we were. In a relatively short period of time, our subscriber base grew exponentially from a few thousands to over 50,000,” he added. ‘Our customers reaction to this service was all the encouragement we needed to continue investing’, said Martin. As it turned out, 2010 was a crucial year that showed how resolute and committed GO was to enhance its newly acquired TV platform. By July of that same year, just three years after the acquisition, GO had already invested over €7 million in its TV infrastructure. That same year, GO invested in a new stateof-the-art Media Control Room at its Magħtab headend, which enabled the company’s television team to monitor and direct all transmissions effectively. It upgraded the sports playout facility, which now allows it to broadcast up to eight simultaneous games during every match day. Recording and playback of another two simultaneous feeds was also enabled. From investing in the technology, GO shifted its attention to the content. It launched GO Stars, the first ever movie channel from GO to broadcast movies, series, and other entertainment programmes and since then, has made every effort to continue to source the latest movies and series from the largest production houses across the globe.

Soon after the acquisition, a brand new headend was set up at GO’s Magħtab Earth Station. GO’s investment had focused mainly on providing close to 100% DTTV coverage. Several transmitter stations were set up around Malta and Gozo to improve coverage. More frequencies were added to the network, which allowed us to offer our customers ‘At the time, our service was robust and easy to use, however DTTV technology limited many more channels to enjoy. how far we could stretch improvements,’ Martin Abela, Senior Manager, Video recounts Martin. ‘We therefore took the Operations at GO, has experienced GO’s TV bold decision to embark on a new journey journey first hand. “It was a really exciting where we would capitalise on our TrueFibre time for us all. We were investing heavily in a broadband network to offer IPTV delivery.’ new product and TV platform and we could In September 2011, GOs new Interactive TV feel that customers were hungry for more” service was launched. he recalls. This meant that customers could enjoy all the “We were using the best technology (at the innovative features that a connected TV box time) in video processing, and customers could offer, such as Fast Channel Change,

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That same year, GO invested in a new state-of-the-art Media Control Room at its Magħtab headend, which enabled the company’s television team to monitor and direct all transmissions effectively. It upgraded the sports playout facility, which now allows it to broadcast up to eight simultaneous games during every match day. Recording and playback of another two simultaneous feeds was also enabled. 100+ TV channels including HD channels, Restart and Network Video recording on all channels and 7-day catchup. The overall customer experience, changed for good. A lot of our investment is customer driven, meaning we try to deliver solutions based on customer demands. Over the course of time, more features were added to really improve the customer’s TV experience. We developed our TV Anywhere App, which is available on mobile devices and PC player, allowing customers to enjoy the content they love, anytime, anyplace. Video on Demand and premium sports quickly followed. The constant investment and innovative approach often made GO a reference point to many suppliers because GO was among the first in Europe to have such a feature-rich platform.

Wi-Fi connected Android TV STB, Chromecast and TV apps for Apple TV and Fire TV. The technology aspect of GO’s TV offering supports the company’s quest to be able to offer unique premium content to its growing customer base. GO has since made one of its boldest moves yet and has shifted its TV investment strategy from technology, to content. We understood that local audiences are particularly fond of quality Maltese audiovisual productions. We therefore decided to commit a €1 million investment over three years to support the production of original TV content by Maltese production companies. This not only supports local production houses, but contributes to preserving Maltese history, culture and heritage. To date, GO customers get to enjoy the richest library of Maltese TV content, some of which is new and exclusive to GO. Chalet, an original GO production was aired last December and was very well received by local audiences. In April this year, we announced the return of the popular TV series Iċ-Ċaqqufa’s with a fourth season which will also be an exclusive GO Originals production. But content does not end here. GO is also bringing a return of a new production - Spettur Leonard, a spinoff from the popular series Simpatici which had a huge following some years back. Spettur Leonard will be available later on this year on GO’s Tokis channel, a unique library of Maltese movies and series which to date has exceeded 1000 hrs of content to watch.

‘In line with our purpose, which is to Drive a digital Malta where no one is left behind, our next wave of investment amounting to around €4.5 million when we launched GO Next Generation TV service which overhauled the User Interface, significantly improving In total, 6 new local productions will be accessibility to the content provided - available on GO’s TV platform between this whether it was Live TV or Video on Demand,’ coming October and June 2023. explained Martin. GO’s TV service is once again at the forefront of The new platform enabled us to continuously local television, with its premium technology, launch new products such as a fully featured its high-level productions and all the modern Mobile/Tablet service with the same features features expected to make our customers and channel line-up, TV over internet (OTT), lives that little bit better, every day!

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