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Corporate DispatchPro

Issue No.21 | June 2021

Corporate DispatchPro The Journal of CI Group

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Issue No.21 | June 2021

Corporate DispatchPro The Journal of CI Group

EDITORIAL TEAM Managing Editor - Jesmond Saliba Editor – Nathanael Muscat CONTRIBUTORS Antony Currie Denise Grech Jesmond Saliba Keith Zahra Robert Cyran Una Galani PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Laura Grima Shirley Zammit DESIGN TEAM Matthew Borg Nicholas Azzopardi

CONTENTS Rival accomplices in Geneva

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Month in pictures

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A new pitch to the world

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Seven nations and China

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Not so quiet on the eastern front

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Malta Insights

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Malta News Roundup

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Cultivating an economy of wellbeing

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Long way to go to break gender stereotypes in the business community

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European Health Union must revolve around patients’ needs

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Communiqeu 47 Amazon’s venture capital rebate

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Heineken pours manageable froth on India tipple

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Truck-sharing IPO gets high on fumes

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SOURCES

Published By

ADDITIONAL SOURCES

Design Produced

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Corporate DispatchPro Cover Story

Rival accomplices in Geneva Vladimir Putin secured a top-level meeting with the fifth American President in a row. Joe Biden held a three-hour conversation with his Russian counterpart at the idyllic Lake Geneva, with an old-style library globe as their fitting backdrop.

With relations between their countries at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War, both men were keen to drum up expectations ahead of the face-to-face summit. The meeting, however, had a broader perspective and the two leaders stepped into the hall as if they were representing all like-minded nations, not just their own. Tensions between the West and Russia have been rising at a brisk pace. Accusations of espionage, cyberattacks, and disinformation flowing in both directions were dwarfed by concerns about the Russian troops converging on the border with Ukraine. The crisis in Belarus was another flashpoint, particularly after the detention of journalist Roman Protasevich. The botched attempt on Alexei Navalny’s life and the subsequent arrest of the opposition figure is another sore issue for both sides. Biden and Putin have been around long enough to understand each other fairly well and, in their comments just ahead of the meeting, they both sought to frame their respective positions as unfriendly but workable. The American President described Putin as “a worthy adversary” with his counterpart returning the political compliment by warning that interlocutors have to tread carefully around Biden. The themes for discussion spanned from ransomware to unrest in Minsk and the elections in Iran, but the main takeaway was that America regards Russia as a world power. The last US Democratic President before Biden, Barack Obama, sought a new agreement with Putin on the reduction of nuclear weapons but his

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Corporate DispatchPro administration treated Russia as a regional power. On the other hand, Donald Trump nurtured an almost deferential relationship with Putin personally, earning criticism from home. Biden broke with both his former boss and presidential opponent and put on a combative front, acknowledging Russia’s impact on global affairs. The two seasoned politicians will have left Switzerland satisfied. Putin headed back to Moscow confident that he had elevated Russia’s profile in the international community while Biden touched down in Washington feeling that he had restored American leadership among its allies. If the anticipated summit did not achieve anything more significant, it has reinforced the principle that rivals need one another more than anyone else.

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ITALY’S EURO 2020 OPENING CEREMONY The Euro 2020 soccer championship finally got underway after a year-long delay with a colourful fireworks show and choreography featuring balloons representing the 24 teams in Rome’s sparsely populated Stadio Olimpico.

DIGITAL EURO MIGHT SUCK AWAY 8% OF BANKS’ DEPOSITS – MORGAN STANLEY A digital euro could suck away 8 per cent of euro zone banks’ customer deposits, analysts at Morgan Stanley have estimated, although the share may be far higher in some of the smaller countries in the 19-nation bloc.

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Corporate DispatchPro WASHINGTON IN TALKS OVER REMOVAL OF FOREIGN FIGHTERS FROM LIBYA The United States is in talks with some of the key actors in Libya over the withdrawal of foreign forces ahead of elections planned for December, Washington’s top Libya envoy said.

DJOKOVIC FIGHTS BACK TO WIN SECOND FRENCH OPEN TITLE Novak Djokovic captured his second French Open title as he recovered from being outplayed for two sets by Stefanos Tsitsipas to win 6-7(6) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory.

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SPANISH TOURISM PINS HOPES ON SUMMER REVIVAL AFTER 2020 SLUMP After more than a year on furlough, Antonio Ramirez, a waiter in Benalmadena on Spain’s Costa del Sol, is struggling to make ends meet. He hopes a revival in summer tourism will let him get back to work but the outlook remains uncertain.

FERRARI TURNS TO WORLD OF TECH FOR ITS NEW CEO Ferrari has turned to a tech executive to navigate the transition towards electrification in the automotive industry, appointing Benedetto Vigna as its new boss.

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Corporate DispatchPro FIRST PLENARY SESSION OF THE CONFERENCE ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE The EP Plenary Sessions on Conference on the Future of Europe kicked of an unprecedented, open and inclusive European democratic exercise.

SPOTLIGHT ON XBOX GAME PASS AS MICROSOFT SHOWCASES UPCOMING GAMES Microsoft showcased 30 upcoming games and said most of those titles will be available on its monthly subscription service, Xbox Game Pass.

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UK HOLIDAY GROUP SAGA EXPECTS TO RESUME CRUISES British over-50s holidays group Saga Plc said on Monday it would likely resume its cruises on June 27, encouraged by high demand for tours despite repeated lockdowns, echoing similar projections from other cruise operators.

DENMARK’S ERIKSEN CONSCIOUS IN HOSPITAL AFTER COLLAPSING AT EURO 2020 Eriksen collapsed while playing and was given CPR by medics during his side’s Euro 2020 soccer match with Finland on Saturday, and the game has been suspended.

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Corporate DispatchPro ITALY IMPOSES QUARANTINE ON UK VISITORS Italy is introducing mandatory testing and a five-day quarantine for visitors from Britain, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, as concerns grow over the spread of a highly contagious coronavirus variant.

EUROVISION WINNERS MÅNESKIN DROP THEIR MANAGER Now that the world has its eyes on them, any move by Eurovision winners Måneskin ends up under the magnifying glass, scrutinized by fans and the social media court.

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Corporate DispatchPro Editorial

A new pitch to the world The world convened in the diameter stretching from Cornwall to Brussels in June. Not the entire world; quite a small part of it, actually. But the back-to-back meetings of the G7 and NATO took a globalist view.

Leaders were eager to offer the international community a common project based on the principles of free-market economics and liberal democracy, drawing a contrast with competing systems, namely China. Aware that ideals such as freedom of expression or waste reduction may be too lofty to address the immediate challenges of low-to-middle income countries, the representatives of the richest nations focused instead on development opportunities. The G7 summit produced a general framework that aims to reverse the coronavirus pandemic and establish systems that prevent similar ones in the future, to tackle the climate crisis and build a more equal global economy. Nevertheless, the 25-page document has been criticised for lack of firm commitments. Even the pledge to ramp up the donation of Covid-19 vaccines to lower-income countries to a billion doses by the end of the year did little to impress observers. Leaders in the summit took the opportunity to discuss regional matters, mainly security concerns in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and, inevitably, Turkey. Ankara’s ambitions on the world stage are a double-edged sword, particularly for the EU nation’s whose foreign policy it looks likely to impact. Only a few months ago, a confrontation between Macron and his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdogan had ripple effects on French domestic policy too. A NATO member, Turkey is a complicated issue for G7 governments to untangle. 13

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Corporate DispatchPro The prompt response from Beijing indicates that the Chinese government is not too flattered by the attention, but while Western powers can no longer throw the subject under the rug.

In the NATO summit that followed, US President Joe Biden and Turkey’s Recep Erdogan held bilateral talks that both sides described as amicable and promising, but the details of the meeting have not been published and few analysts expect the relationship between the two leaders to bloom. Much of the discussions among the allies was taken up by new warcraft tactics, especially malicious cyber activities. Members singled out Russia as a threat to the world order and resolved to retaliate against cyber-attacks. The statements signalled a new vitalism at NATO as it finds new fronts for engagement and new backing from America’s commander-in-chief. The most notable change in direction, however, was felt in the spotlight on Beijing. Apart from a terse reference in 2019, this was the first time that China was mentioned in a NATO declaration, a testament to the emergence of the communist country. The prompt response from Beijing indicates that the Chinese government is not too flattered by the attention, but while Western powers can no longer throw the subject under the rug. For all their manufactured confidence, the meetings in the old continent betray worries that the limited range of liberal democracies may become even smaller unless they share the benefits with the rest of the world.

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Seven nations and China The group of seven summit in June was refreshingly dull. Leaders were careful to project a sense of stability to the world while playing to their domestic audiences with a semi-combative stance. Following the tense relationship with President Trump in recent years, the 47th edition of the meeting painted a classic picture of back-slapping composure among participants.

The rendezvous in Cornwall, however, was not merely a post-Trump event and the nations wanted primarily to project a credible front against the backdrop of an emerging China. Standing as a clear alternative to Beijing’s socialist system, the group of seven wanted to show the world that economic development in their countries is a direct result of their liberal democratic credentials. The summit reaffirmed a belief in transatlantic cooperation as a global force for development. Leaders of the club members did their best to portray a confident, unified voice and spoke directly to the rest of the world, declaring a commitment towards vaccine donations and climate action. Divergence between the countries, though, were bubbling just beneath the surface. Italy was not prepared to sever ties with China, even if premier Mario Draghi said he would review the agreement signed by his predecessor. German Chancellor Angela Merkel remained unwilling to walk back from the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia. On the other hand, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and America’s Joe Biden were meeting while the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska announced the cancellation of the project. Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga seemed more interested in securing support for the Tokyo Olympics while French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sparred over the fallout from Brexit.

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YOUR PURPOSE IS YOUR BIGGEST ASSET

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Corporate DispatchPro But compared with previous summits during Donald Trump’s presidency, the meeting expressed a sense of productive optimism and reciprocal trust between leaders. It was indeed the first foreign trip by the new man in the White House, Joe Biden, who used the event as a platform to relaunch US-led multilateralism. In the closing press conference, President Biden said that the leaders will be judged on their willingness to curb the international influence of autocrats, sniping at China’s Road and Belt initiative. But French President Emmanuel Macron was quick to point out that the G7 is not an anti-China club, insisting on pursuing a productive relationship with Beijing on core issues such as environmental policy and human rights. The meeting also had a bearing on the European project and reframed the relationship between the US, Canada, Britain, Japan, France, Italy, and Germany as an assembly of democratic nations with a global attitude. Time will tell whether the event will have any impact on other countries, but Beijing lost no time in dismissing the G7 as a small club that wants to dictate world affairs. That may have been just the quality of endorsement that the summit leaders were looking for.

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Not so quiet on the eastern front Founded in response to unease with the USSR, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has gone through years of wilderness since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. There was no shortage of challenges to the prevailing world order in the next three decades, but the alliance struggled for relevance During his presidency, Donald Trump openly criticised America’s NATO allies for failing to honour their spending commitments and floated the idea of pulling the US out. But the seeds had been sown well before, especially in post-9/11 America as foreign policy turned increasingly to the Pacific region. The other members of the alliance have been trying to catch up with this shift in global equilibrium and find a new reason for existence. The 2021 summit with President Joe Biden signalled that NATO may have finally found its guiding star again. Russia was an important part of the discussion and the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, declared that NATO would firmly address cyberattacks with links to Moscow. But the major threat looks to have moved further east and China was a bigger theme in the conversation. The communique at the end of the meeting took aim at Beijing’s growing influence on the world stage and, without hiding any sense of threat, allies promised to do everything to defend each other’s interests in this new scenario. Members raised concerns about China’s lack of transparency and questioned the communist country’s willingness to honour international commitments. Wary of the expansion of China’s 21

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nuclear arsenal and the government’s assertive tone in world affairs, the NATO joint statement pledged total support for a rulesbased international order. Visiting the memorial to the September 11 attacks at NATO’s headquarters, President Biden called the mutual defence pact a “sacred obligation”, doing his best to reverse the scepticism adopted by his predecessor. At 72 years, the alliance finds the world in a completely different place from when it was established. But European and North American countries feel a sense of déjà vu as global polarisation forebode a new age of tension. 23

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WOMEN RECORD LOWER UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A YEAR The rate of unemployment among women stood at 3.7 per cent in April, the first time it fell lower than the male unemployment rate in twelve months. Unemployment among men stood at a stable 3.8 per cent for three months, while that among women fell from 4.0 per cent in February to 3.8 per cent in March. Figures by the National Statistics Office show a total unemployment rate of 3.8 per cent in April, equal to the previous month but down from 4.4 per cent recorded in April last year. The total level of unemployment stood at 10,386, slightly below 10,403 registered in March and the fourth consecutive decrease in 2021. The rate of youth unemployment fell by 0.7 percentage points month on month, closing at 8.4 per cent. Unemployment among the adult population increased from 3.2 per cent in March to 3.3 per cent in April.

PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS DECREASE IN MAY BUT TOTAL VALUE INCREASES Final deeds of property sales in May surpassed a total value of €300 million for the first time since October 2018. Figures by the National Statistics Office show transactions adding up to €319.5 million, the highest total value generated in the 41 months under review since January 2018. 25

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The number of final deeds of sale registered in May was, however, only the third highest so far this year with 1,158 transactions. In March and April, the total value of final deeds stood at 1,285 and 1,185, respectively. The value of transactions was €236.7 million in April and €266.8 million in March. Gozo recorded the largest number of monthly final deeds for the second consecutive month in May although, the total 170 transactions were a decrease from the 186 registered in April. The second-biggest number was observed in the region spanning Birżebbuġa, Marsaskala, Marsaxlokk, Żejtun, Ħaż-Żabbar, and Xgħajra, with 158 deeds, up from 143 the previous month. The Cottonera region saw the lowest number of deeds.

PRODUCTION GROWS ACROSS THE BOARD FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A YEAR Industrial Production increased by 5.3 per cent in April compared to the previous month, registering growth across all major groupings for the first month in twelve months. The Index of Industrial Production stood at 107.4, the highest in a year according to figures published by the National Statistics Office. In April 2020, on the contrary, the Index recorded its lowest point in the period under review, dropping to 92.6. Energy production grew the 13.1 per cent month-on-month in April, the biggest gain among the categories followed by consumer goods (6.5%). Capital goods and intermediate goods increased by 4.9 per cent and 3.2 per cent, respectively. Compared with April last year, production jumped by 16.4 per cent. Capital goods enjoyed the highest growth (31.5%) while intermediate registered the lowest increase (6.6%).

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION ECLIPSES EU AVERAGE IN APRIL Industrial production rose by 5.6 per cent between March and April, the second-highest rate among EU members. Figures by Eurostat show that the increase outpaced the EU average of 0.5 per cent and 26

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Corporate DispatchPro was behind only the rise registered in Belgium (+7.4%). Compared with April 2020, however, the gain in Malta was the sixth-lowest in the bloc, at 17.5 per cent. The year-on-year average increase in the EU 27 stood at 38.7 per cent, led by Italy (+79.5%), Slovakia (+69.1%), and Romania (+64.5%). Energy production and Durable consumer goods both recorded a rise of 2.9 per cent from March 2021, the highest increases among the major groupings. Non-durable goods, on the other hand, was the only category to register a decrease (-0.7%). All industrial groupings experiences growth from April 2020, increasing the most in the durable consumer goods categories (+110.4%) and the least in energy production (+13.8%).

ENERGY FROM PHOTOVOLTAICS UP BY A FIFTH IN 2020 Production of energy from photovoltaic installations amounted to just under 185,000 kWp in 2020, an increase of 19.6 per cent from the previous year. Data by the National Statistics Office shows that half of the total energy was produced by the commercial sector albeit accounting for only 5.5 per cent of the national stock of PV installations. The domestic sector makes up 93.6 per cent of all installations and, at an average peak power rating of 3.1 kWp, it generated 46.4 per cent of the total PV energy output. The public sector contributed to 2.9 per cent of the total energy share with 0.9 per cent of all installations. There were nearly 5,700 PV units installed in the Northern Harbour area, the highest number among districts. Meanwhile, in the South Eastern district, installations increased by 7.5 per cent from 2019, above the national increase rate of 6.8 per cent. The Gozo and Comino district registered the lowest increase in installations year-on-year (5.4%) and accounted for 15 per cent of the total PV stock. The area, however, held the highest ratio of photovoltaic units in the domestic sector per 1,000 inhabitants. 27

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Malta News ROUNDUP Detonator found at sea could be same as Daphne car bomb: Police believe a detonator discovered hidden at sea is the same type as that used in the car bomb murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Marsascala residents: stop MTA design contest intended for big business: Marsascala residents and local councillors have come together to demand an immediate halt to a design contest which they fear has been conceived to benefit businessmen and not locals. Degiorgio brothers’ second pardon request turned down by cabinet: Two men who stand accused of conspiring to murder Daphne Caruana Galizia were denied a presidential pardon. In a statement, the government said that ministers had decided on Monday to recommend that the pardon request be refused, in line with advice given by the attorney general and police commissioner. €500,000 for environmental projects by local councils, NGOs: The Environment Resources Authority has allocated €500,000 in funds for environmental projects by local councils, NGOs and educational institutions. Long queues at airport arrivals as MIA slams ‘untenable’ system: Malta International Airport urged health authorities to allow health documents to be digitally checked after video footage of hundreds of people crowded in airport arrivals areas prompted concern. Companies are calling staff back to offices as Covid-19 measures end: Employees are being asked to return to their workstation as Covid-19 measures are lifted. 31

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Corporate DispatchPro Travelling with children? Malta’s rules are among the strictest in the EU: An in-depth look at how Malta’s regulations compare to other countries’ regulations. The island’s rules for travelling with children are among the strictest in the European Union, according to this analysis. Airport arrivals sparse, but happy, as tourist season officially opens: The tourism season officially reopened, but arrivals were sparse. Carmelo Abela dodges resignation questions in parliament: Minister Carmelo Abela ignored questions over whether he had offered to resign, following claims linking him to a failed HSBC Bank heist 11 years ago.

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Cultivating an economy of wellbeing In the past two decades, there were various attempts to create new metrics that determine tangible ways how to translate macro-economic wellbeing into an improved quality of life. While the tools for measuring economic progress are well-established, it is becoming ever more evident that they do not necessarily equate to better welfare. The discussion about quality of life may take a subjective turn, so determining the components that lead to it are generally less straightforward. Definitions as to what constitutes quality of life are also relative to the broader circumstances and the uncertainty driven by the pandemic is challenging many of the notions that we may have held until very recently. In 2007, the OECD and the EU Commission co-hosted a high-level conference to clarify which indices are most appropriate to measure progress and how these can best be integrated into the decisionmaking process led by public debate. In October 2019, the EU Council adopted conclusions on the discussion and invited member states and the EC to include an economy of wellbeing perspective horizontally in national and EU policies and to put people and their wellbeing at the centre of policy design. The main focus was that, while people’s wellbeing is a value in itself, it is also vital for the EU’s economic growth, productivity, long-term fiscal sustainability, and social stability. In this sense, the economy and wellbeing nurture a symbiotic relationship that asks more of development than just an increase in the material value of goods and services. 35

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Many proponents of the economy of wellbeing make the case that productivity and GDP are but one dimension of a more complex understanding of the human condition. A fuller sense of the quality of life includes non-tangible aspirations such as personal fulfilment, satisfaction, opportunity, health and security, environmental integrity. So, what is the economy of wellbeing? How do we calculate it? Are we too lost calculating ‘success’ that we have failed to question how to calculate poverty? To be able to balance economic growth with quality of life we need to consider the elements that contribute to an economy of wellbeing. These include opportunities for upward social mobility; the extension of such opportunities to all segments of society, including those at the bottom of the distribution system; the reduction of inequalities; and environmental and social sustainability.

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Corporate DispatchPro An economy of wellbeing is not the competence of governments alone and the private sector has an important role to play. In essence, we must establish a virtuous circle by which sustainable economic growth and wellbeing work together for the benefit of communities. In real life, however, these two elements tend to be brought into conflict with one another. The pandemic, for example, illustrated this clash every time we debated the order of precedence between economic activity and public health. In his third encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis, made direct reference to the current economic rules and their ineffectiveness in measuring integral human development. Francis’ challenge is also our challenge and the criteria we traditionally use to assess economic development does not correspond to today’s expectations. A year ago, Ci Consulta through Ci Next launched an ongoing policy process to survey the pathway for tomorrow so that the companies and institutions we assist can anticipate the next lap of their journey and prepare for it. By establishing purpose as one of the key components, organisations combine societal wellbeing and quality of life in their offering. An economy of wellbeing is not the competence of governments alone and the private sector has an important role to play. Businesses contribute with their active participation in policy-building and implementation as well as in the adoption of business practices that reflect the economy of wellbeing. The recently debated Social Enterprise Bill is an opportunity for the private sector to be an integral player in the long-term sustainability of society, taking social responsibility beyond acts of charity. The need to balance wellbeing and economic development is becoming ever more urgent and the business community cannot simply wait for the state to find an answer. We need a multistakeholder approach to design the solutions that make sense for our particular context and the private sector is in a good position to lead the way. 37

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Corporate DispatchPro JOSIANNE CUTAJAR MALTESE MEP

Long way to go to break gender stereotypes in the business community There is a long way to go to break gender stereotypes in the business community, MEP Josianne Cutajar told CDpro.

The Socialists and Democrats MEP is shadow rapporteur to the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, which worked on addressing the female entreprenuerial gap. “We should not only look at the long-term challenges and measures but should also understand the current situation and collectively work with the Member States and stakeholders to act upon effective policies and mechanisms that instil real change,” Cutajar said. “We should start focusing more on measuring the actual results of policies and budget allocations when it comes to gender mainstreaming,” she added. 2021 is important because it is the first year of the new MultiAnnual Financial Framework programming period and the beginning of what the European Commission defined the Digital Decade. “We have the formidable opportunity to shape the future of many sectors and empower women to lead this change,” Cutajar said.

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“We should work to ensure bias-free hiring processes, to support female students to navigate the opportunities the STEM careers can offer, to invest massively in the actions of the European Skills Agenda that support girls and women to become scientists, engineers, mathematicians,” she noted. Cutajar said that taking the gender dimension into account in the research, industrial and digital fields can represent a real driver for change. “This can enable women to be at the centre of the digital transition, giving them the role they deserve in the historical recovery phase that they will be soon experiencing,” she said. “We should avoid that Artificial Intelligence and its algorithms will constitute a threat for women. Our Committee is currently working on the Digital Service Act and will soon work on several pieces of legislation to enable the Digital Decade,” she concluded.

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 DispatchPro CYRUS ENGERER MALTESE MEP

European Health Union must revolve around patients’ needs “It is time for a European Health Union that revolves around patients’ needs,” Member of the European Parliament Cyrus Engerer said. “The [Covid-19] pandemic was an eyeopener for all and citizens are demanding more cooperation between Member States on Health matters,” the Socialists and Democrats MEP said. “We must make medicines accessible and affordable to all those in need. In this sense, joint procurement at EU level will mean that all patients, even those coming from the smallest Member States, would have access to medicines and at the lowest possible prices,” he added. He proposed that the EU should also have its own hospitals in different European hubs that focus on different treatments, especially on rare diseases. One Member State alone might find difficulties to treat patients because of the low numbers but a joint effort between the 27 Member States could result in the best treatment, he said. Engerer added that the post-Covid recovery goals must be aligned with the Green Deal. “The Climate Law we agreed on is ambitious, yet it is imperative that Member States stick to the agreed objectives,” he said. 43

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He proposed switching to an energy mix which is made up of a higher proportion of renewable energy, as well as generating hydrogen from clean sources, while changing the way we travel within our countries and across the world. “For the Green Deal to be a truly pan-European success, the European Commission must ensure that all corners of the continent, including outermost regions and island states are connected to the rest of the European grid,” he concluded.

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 DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

FUTURE OF EUROPE

Conference on the Future of Europe kicks-off The inaugural Plenary meeting of the Conference on the Future of Europe kicked off in Strasbourg this month, in what is being considered as an unprecedented, open and inclusive European democratic exercise.

Following opening statements by the Co-Chairs of the Executive Board, representatives – including citizens – discussed the purpose and expectations of the Conference, comprising the European Citizens’ Panels, the National Panels and events, and the Multilingual Digital Platform. The European Citizens’ Panels will convene in September and October to prepare their input to future plenary debates, including a set of recommendations for the Union to follow-up on, based on citizens’ contributions collected via the Platform. The Conference is committed to giving maximum space to young people and in this vein, preparations for the European Youth Event organised by the European Parliament on 8-9 October will also continue. The next Plenary session is scheduled for 22-23 October.

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

EUBAM Libya: Council extends mandate for a further two years The Council of Ministers has extended the mandate of the European Integrated Border Management Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya) for a further two years until 30 June 2023. In its renewed mandate, the mission is tasked with assisting the relevant Libyan authorities in the building of state security structures in Libya, in particular in the areas of border management, law enforcement and criminal justice, with a view to contributing to efforts to disrupt organised criminal networks involved notably in smuggling migrants, human trafficking and terrorism in Libya and the Central Mediterranean region. The mission also coordinates and implements projects with international partners in the fields of its engagement. In the context of a recent strategic review of the mission the Council also decided to extend the mission’s mandate to support UN-led efforts for peace in Libya as part of the Berlin Process, within the scope of the mission’s core areas of engagement.

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

INNOVATION

Innovation performance keeps improving in EU Member States and regions Innovation has continued to improve across the EU, while convergence between Member States has acellerated, accoding the European Innovation Scoreboard.

On average, innovation performance has increased by 12.5 per cent since 2014. There is continued convergence within the EU, with lower performing countries growing faster than higher performing ones, therefore closing the innovation gap among them. In the global landscape, the EU is performing better than its competitors like China, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, and India, while South Korea, Canada, Australia, the United States, and Japan have a performance lead over the EU. This year’s European Innovation Scoreboard is based on a revised framework, which includes new indicators on digitalisation and environmental sustainability, bringing the scoreboard more in line with the EU political priorities. Sweden continues to be the EU Innovation Leader, followed by Finland, Denmark and Belgium, all with innovation performance well above the EU average.

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

FINANCE

Council urges action on challenges arising from an ageing population The Council of Ministers of the European Union has urged Member States to act on the fiscal sustainability challenges arising from an ageing population. The conclusions draw on the main findings of the 2021 ageing report and call on member states to address the economic and budgetary consequences of ageing. The conclusions stress that ageing populations pose a significant challenge for the long-term sustainability of public finances. The Council notes that government debt levels have risen due to the Covid-19 crisis and that they are expected to stay high for some time. At the same time, it underlines that premature withdrawal of fiscal support should be avoided to preserve longer-term fiscal sustainability. According to the report, by 2070 there will be less than two working-age persons for every person aged over 65, while currently there are three. That means that, in the long term, GDP will only be able to grow based on labour productivity. The report projects an increase in age-related public expenditure (pensions, healthcare and long-term care), with numbers varying depending on productivity growth, demographic developments and the macroeconomic situation. In this context, the Council called on member states to address agerelated spending by raising employment rates and productivity, tackling the gender gap in the labour market, and adapting pension, healthcare and long-term care systems.

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Corporate DispatchPro ROBERT CYRAN VIA REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS

Amazon’s venture capital rebate Amazon.com just made a canny deal by ordering 1,000 systems from autonomous-driving firm Plus to retrofit conventional trucks. In exchange, it will receive warrants in the company, which is set to go public at a $3.3 billion equity valuation in a merger with a blank-check company. Amazon could buy up to 20 per cent of Plus providing additional units are ordered, according to a filing. A similar past agreement shows that the e-commerce giant’s validation, while useful, might be expensive. In 2017, Amazon agreed to buy fuel cells from Plug Power to electrify its forklifts and other equipment. Amazon eventually received warrants for about a fifth of the company after purchasing $600 million of gear and services. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’ blessing of both fuel cells and Plug Power helped the maker. Its shares are up over 20 times since before the agreement. Yet the discounted stake it exchanged for sales meant Plug Power’s revenue from Amazon in 2020 netted out at negative $310 million. That is a pricey vote of confidence.

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Corporate DispatchPro UNA GALANI VIA REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS

Heineken pours manageable froth on India tipple Heineken is downing a long overdue pint in India by taking majority control of United Breweries. With the target’s stock near all-times highs, topping up its stake to 61.5 per cent from 46.5 per cent was not cheap; the additional shares are worth almost $800 million. But the froth is worth it. The drinks giant is effectively buying shares seized by lenders from disgraced tycoon and one-time quasi-partner Vijay Mallya, who is fighting India’s attempt to extradite him from the United Kingdom. As a result, regulators exempted Heineken from making a mandatory offer for the rest. It is recognition that the Dutch brewer already calls the shots, but also of official interest in helping state-controlled banks clean up their books. The waiver takes edge off. Before the pandemic diluted sales, United Breweries generated half the net profit margin of its foreign parent. As conditions improve, India’s beer market will grow faster than the global average. That is worth raising a glass.

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Corporate DispatchPro ANTONY CURRIE VIA REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS

Truck-sharing IPO gets high on fumes SoftBank and Tencent-backed Manbang appears to have aced its stock market driving test read more.

The Chinese truck-sharing firm’s shares ended their first day on the New York Stock Exchange 13 per cent higher than where underwriters Morgan Stanley, CICC and Goldman Sachs priced the deal. That is right in the sweet spot, giving investors a nice little boost without leaving the company’s executives feeling they sold on the cheap. Trouble is, it means Manbang – or Full Truck Alliance, as it is also called – now trades at some 550 times last year’s earnings. Yet it is only converting around 1.5 per cent of the business it books into revenue – known as the take rate. Car ride-sharing giant Uber manages 22 per cent. And Manbang faces regulatory and competitive pressure, too. Without sudden, explosive growth, it will start to look like it’s running on fumes.

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Corporate DispatchPro

BRIDGING THE INVESTMENT GAP

SUPPORTING SMEs, INNOVATION, INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIAL INVESTMENT

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Profile for CDE Publishing

CorporateDispatch Pro - Edition 21  

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