SETTING STANDARDS; ACHIEVING AMBITIONS Interview with Denise Xuereb, AX Group Construction, Development and Real Estate Director, on the landmark Verdala project p.06
CATCHING UP WITH CARL BILDT Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt heads the World Health Organization (WHO) flagship program to ensure global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics p.17
TAKING THE US MARKET BY STORM Toni Halonen, CEO of Bojoko, talks about why the online casino affiliate has set its sights on the fast-growing US market and how it plans to leverage the huge potential on the table p.18
ISSUE 75 | 2021
GAMING INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH EXCELLENCE WITHIN THE INDUSTRY Absorbing Interview with Lasse Rantala, CEO of Rootz Ltd., recently awarded with the Malta’s Best CEO of the Year during Malta’s Excellence iGaming Awards 2021 p.20
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Malta Business Review
SPECIAL FEATURES 33 SRB CHAIR SPEECH BY ELKE KONIG AT THE
“ When it comes to the Single Resolution Fund, the emergency fund that can be called on in times of crisis, we are on track to meet the target,” declares Elke Konig!
34 ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN POLICING
Safeguards needed against mass surveillance.
35 INVESTING IN CRYPTOCURRENCY
ITCOIN is Considered the Best Place For Beginner Crypto B Investors to Start.
COVER STORY 06 SETTING STANDARDS, ACHIEVING AMBITIONS
I nterview with Denise Xuereb, AX Group Construction, Development and Real Estate Director, on the landmark Verdala project.
TALKING POINT PANDEMIC INVOICE WRITE OFFS MORE 15 THAN DOUBLE
T he Atradius Payment Practices Barometer survey reveals increase in use of credit led to rise in write offs and overdue invoices.
FEATURES & INTERVIEWS CATCHING UP WITH CARL BILDT, FORMER 17 SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER
arl Bildt heads the World Health Organization (WHO) C flagship program to ensure global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.
18 TAKING THE US MARKET BY STORM
T oni Halonen, CEO of Bojoko, talks about why the online casino affiliate has set its sights on the fast-growing US market and how it plans to leverage the huge potential on the table.
20 EXCELLENCE WITHIN THE INDUSTRY
bsorbing Interview with Lasse Rantala, CEO of Rootz Ltd., A recently awarded with the Malta’s Best CEO of the Year during Malta’s Excellence iGaming Awards 2021
40 SPONSORING EURO 2020 IS THE INEVITABLE CHOICE OF HISENSE'S GLOBALIZATION STRATEGY
I f the sponsorship of EURO 2016 is the preliminary global presence, EURO 2020 must be The commencement of Hisense's various brands and products globalization.
41 MEDIA GRANTS RELATED TO THE CONFERENCE FOR THE FUTURE OF EUROPE
OUR GOLDEN PARTNERS
y The European Parliament has issued a call for proposals for B grants for media actionsin support of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
42 SINGLE RESOLUTION FUND GROWS BY €10.4 BILLION TO REACH €52 BILLION
The Single Resolution Board (SRB) announced the amount of contributions made by banks to the Single Resolution Fund (SRF) for 2021. 4
Malta Business Review
E D I TO R I A L As an accredited journalist I recently followed the speech by President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, at the Commemoration of the Nazi massacre at Cibeno, which I wish to share with our readers. “My pilgrimage here today has only one reason – to remember that it is not enough to believe that you are safe. I want to reiterate that the horror that overwhelmed us was born in great democratic, liberal, even progressive cultures. In a time of great technological inventions, of discoveries, of cosmopolitan and exceptional artists, writers and philosophers of ingenuity, but all incapable of sensing in time the danger of fascism and Nazism.”
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The President stressed the need to be vigilant against rising intolerance: “They say the same to us today, when we say to save migrants, they tell us that we are playing the game of smugglers, or that the independent judiciary, or journalism are expressions of disorder, or that it is going against common sense when we defend the dignity of people who want to love each other.”
“In Cibeno, here in Fossoli it happened. It can happen again,” stressed Sassoli.
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Giuseppe Dossetti wrote that historical awareness alone is not enough. Our conscience must be alert, capable of “opposing every beginning of a system of evil”. This is why we cannot afford to underestimate the manifestations of hatred, violence, discrimination that occur now in the European space, and which David Sassoli rightfully has reminded us about. He went on to focus on what Europe has done to protect fundamental values and why authoritarian regimes increasingly target Europe: “It is good that the debate on the recovery, on the reconstruction of our economies, runs hand in hand with concerns over the defence of the rule of law, of our fundamental values, of the freedoms that must be guaranteed to our citizens. Never before had the debate over the worrying trends in some European states been so actively followed, and followed up with new and unprecedented sanction mechanisms.” Sassoli looks toward the future, while reminding us that we live in cruel, unforgiving world. The pandemic has hit and stopped Europe and the world. This time, however, Europe was not passive as it was during the financial crisis of ten years ago. This time Europe was able to take a leap forward. Not an ordinary answer, but a paradigm shift. Which is a prelude - so we want to think - to a more just and stronger Europe with a global outlook, sharing Sassoli’s vision, by protecting and maintaining our freedom and civil liberties. Why do all authoritarian regimes care about us? There is only one reason. European values are frightening, because freedoms allow for equality, justice, transparency, opportunity, peace. And if it is possible in Europe, it is possible everywhere. “This is why we do not tolerate that in the European space there are countries where the judiciary or journalism are attacked for doing their work, where an anti-Semitic wind forces European Jewish families to move to North America or Canada, where immigrants and refugees are considered a problem, in which women are underpaid, in which national laws produce discrimination, in which European territories are declared ‘LGBTI free zones’. In Europe, the rights of every person are the rights of all. Finally, President Sassoli explained why Europe must continue to develop: “Europe is a construction that is always in progress. And it must never stop. It is a construction site that never stops operating, or if you want, it is a cathedral whose construction requires the commitment of successive generations. “For this reason, we are determined to speed up the accession process of the Western Balkans, and to keep the promises made by Europe for a reconciliation of the political space with the geographical space. We do not want the disappointment of Albania and North Macedonia to prevail and their gaze to turn elsewhere. And the same goes for all those countries that still feel a strong desire to be part of our family.” COVID-19, one of the most serious crises since the Second World War, presented us with unexpected challenges, adding new elements of complexity to an already fragile situation where large sections of the population were excluded from democratic life. As we know, the pandemic had repercussions on various sectors, not only on our health systems but also on our social model, it disproportionately affected the most vulnerable people, citizens and sections of the population from a socio-economic point of view. It is especially in times of crisis that our democracies must reveal their function, their usefulness as projects designed for the well-being of all, capable of protecting people, promoting equality, promoting social progress, well-being. Meeting our citizens' needs for care, work, dignity, security and prosperity for their future must be at the centre of our attention. To paraphrase Martin Luther King: an attack on democracies anywhere is an attack on democracy everywhere. Democracy in America is democracy in Europe, is democracy in Ukraine is democracy in Belarus. All of us together will only resist attacks from the outside and the inside if we will defend and protect each other. We must continue to walk together.
Martin Vella, Editor-in-Chief Malta Business Review’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editor, and besides reflecting the Editor’s opinion, are written to represent a fair and impartial representation of facts, events and provide a correct analysis of local and international news.
Malta Business Review
COVER STORY INTERVIEW
Setting Standards Achieving Ambitions By Martin Vella
With the landmark Verdala project now approved for development, AX Group Construction, Development and Real Estate Director Denise Micallef Xuereb is setting new standards for Malta’s property sector. Here she shares the ethos that ensures the Group stays ahead of the game, keeping it firmly on the ground-breaking path her father Angelo Xuereb forged decades ago.
COVER STORY INTERVIEW
Malta Business Review
enise Micallef Xuereb is a force to be reckoned with. Fair, pragmatic and ambitious, she has carved a niche as one of Malta’s most respected and dynamic young entrepreneurs. The fact that she is a woman in the exceedingly male-dominated world of construction and development is barely noticeable among her impressive accolades and portfolio of ground-breaking projects. In fact, Denise has followed steadfastly in the footsteps of her father – veteran entrepreneur Angelo Xuereb who has always stressed his belief in his daughters’ ability to grow and enhance the business he built from the ground up. Looking ahead, one of Denise’s key goals will be the successful launch of the Verdala project – a development that has been waiting for its green light for over 27 years. Now, Denise has secured that green light via Planning Authority approval, and the cogs are finally turning to bring this Rabat icon back to life. In doing so, she has further proved that she is the right person to lead the Group’s important construction and development arm into its next milestone era, as she combines AX’s trademark standard-setting approach with her own brand of tenacity to get things done. Here, she gives her take on this success so far and charts the exciting path forward for Verdala, the rest of the Group’s development ambitions, and her own dynamic career.
MBR: Can you run me through the project you are embarking on as part of an ambitious expansion strategy? DX: As you may know, Verdala was 27 years in the making in terms of its planning process. That is practically most of my entire life! Since I was little, I have always known this high-status project and there were numerous proposals submitted at the planning stage over the years, with different concepts for how we intended to redevelop the property. As I managed the planning process over the past three years, my team and I made sure to choose and use the best from each of those previous proposals. This latest version – which was approved – really shows the outstanding character of building design improvement and will have a very strong and positive impact on the surrounding environment. The rationale behind this can already be seen in the 3D visuals, as the existing Verdala block has been broken up into a series of new visual corridors and open piazzas, which in turn improve the streetscape. The result will be two luxury apartment blocks and a five-star boutique hotel including a number of high-end serviced apartments. Everything has been taken into consideration when it comes to improving the urban environment and giving the space back to the community in as many ways as possible whilst respecting the natural environment. For instance, by reducing the building’s overall height by almost two storeys, the new development will blend more harmoniously into the promontory. Then, a system of terraces and voids on the ridge side of the building will mimic the natural forms of the rock strata and create a chiaro-scuro effect whilst seeing the building from afar. The street elevations are being treated in a different manner tie better into the traditional façade typology found in the surrounding streets to complement the urban environment. The project will also unwrap around 2,350 square meters of formerly developed space to the public, thanks to the introduction of beautiful piazzas and open spaces. This means that we are giving the Verdala and its surrounding landscape back to the people of Rabat and beyond. On top of that, I would also like to add that we were considerate and appreciative of the sensitivity of the location which the new project lies on and its impact on the Rabat skyline. We will honour its special spot close to Mdina and enhance that, rather than draw focus as it does now. MBR: What timeframes are you targeting? DX: The project will be completed within two-and-a-half years. It’s tight but we are positive it will be executed on-time and on-budget.
Everything has been taken into consideration when it comes to improving the urban environment and giving the space back to the community in as many ways as possible whilst respecting the natural environment. MBR: What is the main target of the hotel? DX: It will attract a five-star market. We will settle for nothing short of exceptional when it comes to Verdala – from its design to its environmental sustainability. This has already been proven in the fact that all major stakeholders, including ERA, SCH and the Planning Authority, were unanimous in their approval, and that we had no objectors at the final sitting. Malta’s high-end guests will find what they are looking for at Verdala. We will create yet another flagship hotel within the AX Hotels portfolio. MBR: What can you tell our readers about the design, and what sets you at the forefront? DX: All our designs have incorporated a classic approach from the exterior, and we are very proud of the results. None of our developments so far have jarred with their context or concept, and this project will achieve the same. It’s imperative to me that we respect the skyline; especially because of Verdala’s prominent position. The internal edifice we have designed, together with the outdoor areas and piazzas, are spacious, giving the community plenty of room to relax and enjoy. So, rather than having a very big mass of development, we have reduced and spared huge amounts of square meters from what we could have potentially built, and they are being returned to the public. Of course, this aligns with our whole ethos at AX Group, where our properties have been standard-setting and distinct. Take Rosselli AX Privilege in Valletta, for example, which was one of the first hotels on the island to gain a Michelin star for one of its restaurants; Under Grain. The Verdala development will be onpar, with spas, gyms and various areas dedicated wellness and hospitality. I believe the result will be a cut above the rest – with a stunning view to match! Continued on page 8 7
Malta Business Review
COVER STORY INTERVIEW
The Verdala Hotel and the Verdala Terraces project will see the dilapidated Grand Hotel Verdala in Rabat being demolished and redeveloped into a luxurious residential complex and a five-star hotel.
Continued from page 7 MBR: What really stands out about this project? DX: The aesthetics, the building, the elevations, the structure, the terraces with their chiaro-scuro effect, and the exterior design – these are all unique aspects of how the building sits within its environment. Together it will all come together, and positively. I can assure you that no stone has been left unturned when it comes to making this concept a truly outstanding and unusual one. MBR: What are the three pillars that best define the AX GROUP?
If I had to define the three pillars that hold all the above together these would be Property Assets; Robust Finances, and Talented People.
DX: Well, the AX Group employs in excess of 1,000 people and specialises in four sectors: construction, development, hospitality and care. We employ people from all walks of life and their skillsets vary considerably. At AX Construction we employ master masons, experts in restoration and project managers. At Hilltop Gardens Retirement Village, we recruit people who are leaders in the care profession. At AX Hotels it’s people with a passion for service, customer focus and their ability to make people feel welcome. So, it varies! But overall, the three pillars that hold all the above together are our Property Assets, Robust Finances, and Talented People. MBR: What is your driving force? DX: I am extremely passionate about numerous facets of our diverse business, including the construction and hospitality divisions. However, beyond that, it is our people that really drive me. Along with our guests, it is our team that makes up the true backbone of the Group. I am passionate about ensuring they have the best possible experience with us and with the company, so I invest a lot of time in our team and spending time with them. Knowing I have helped them in some way, or given them the best-possible experience, is another aspect that motivates me day-to-day. MBR: Finally, how do you balance family life with your professional one? What tips can you share? DX: It’s all about balance and I am resolute about investing the time needed to maximise the most important relationships in my life. Everything has its time and place, though. Quality counts over quantity, and the time I do have with my family is a blessing of incomparable proportions. That said, the fact I am often surrounded by family at work is a clear-cut bonus! MBR
Malta Business Review
APFRE's attributable earnings for the first six months of this year were 364 million euros, which represents a growth of 34.5 percent over the same period of the previous year, after accounting for claims related to COVID-19 in excess of 266 million euros, most of which were related to the Life business (152 million euros). “These results demonstrate the Group's strength and its ability to adapt to changing environments such as the one we're facing at present. This is made possible thanks to the strength of our diversified business model, a leading position in the main markets, as well as solid capital strength, enabling us to face the future with optimism,” highlighted Fernando Mata, MAPFRE CFO and Member of the Board. The Group's premiums grew by 6.2 percent in the first six months of the year, reaching almost 11.7 billion euros. At constant exchange rates, premium growth would have exceeded 11 percent, after several years of canceling loss-making businesses as part of the Group's profitable growth strategy, and accompanied by an excellent combined ratio, which has improved 1.6 percentage points compared to June 2020 to stand at 95.1 percent.
MAPFRE'S EARNINGS RISE BY 34.5 PERCENT TO 364 MILLION EUROS IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS OF THE YEAR
These results demonstrate the Group's strength and its ability to adapt to changing environments such as the one we're facing at present.
Group equity at the close of June 2021 was 8.5 billion euros and total assets were 71.1 billion euros. MAPFRE's investments at the close of the first half of this year amounted to 44.6 billion euros. The Solvency II ratio stood at 201 percent in March 2021, reflecting the strength and resilience of the balance sheet and active investment management. Insurance Unit premiums at the close of the first half of this year came to 9.71 billion euros (+6.8 percent). The result from this unit is also considered very positive despite the fact that it is being compared against a semester of intense paralysis in activity in the main economies of the Group due to the massive COVID-related confinements. Premiums for the EURASIA Regional Area stood at 738 million euros (-4.9 percent) at the close of the first half of the year, mainly as a result of the depreciation of the Turkish lira (-25.2 percent). The contribution from Germany, with premiums of 223 million euros (+3.7 percent) was notable, thanks to a highly effective sales campaign and an excellent renewal ratio. Malta also performed well, contributing 210 million euros (+25.9 percent), thanks to the increase in the Life Savings business which grew by 33 percent. Lastly, Turkey contributed 153 million euros, (-15.7 percent). MBR 9
Malta Business Review
Article by Antonio Camilleri, owner of Antonio's Barber Shop
Change the way you look and change the way you feel
e are in the middle of summer, beach, late nights out and all that goes with it and hope to have enough energy to face your next day at work!! But, it all starts with your looks, whether you are going to work or for a nice dinner or even on the beach. When we talk about looks, the first thing that comes to your mind is what clothes to wear according to where you are going. You want to be wearing the best swimming suit, or the best party wear, but the clothes are not the only thing that makes you look your best, you need a clean shave or a well groomed beard, and a hairstyle that’s neatly cut and done. You start preparing for your night out an hour or so before, mentally thinking what you are going to wear, but when it comes to hair and beard, you need to think about this way before that unless you have a clean head shave and a clean shaven beard, well you still need time to do them too, so, luckily for men, we can have this sorted out days before. A good hair cut can last you for a minimum of one week and all you have to worry about is making sure it is clean and styled before you go out. How do you know you have a good haircut? No matter what hairstyle you have, being a longer hairstyle or a faded hairstyle, if it does not last a week there is something wrong. In the case of longer hairstyles, a good barber will give you advice on how to style it after you wash it and also might recommend particular products, if you did not know this by now, make sure to ask for this advice. As for the faded styles, hair does seem to grow faster, but then again, it should last a week. Looking good makes you feel good. Let’s start with the clean shaven head, you might do it yourself at home or you might go to the barber. I meet a good amount of guys saying that they do not need to go to the barber as they do not have hair but a trip to the barber is more than that. A good barber shop will not just shave your head but uses the before and after products to give a closer shave (thus it will last longer) and treats your skin on your scalp too. While doing so, the barber will be removing any dead skin and massaging at the same time for a better blood flow. This will make your skin look healthy thus making you look good and you feel good. Also, if you wish, you can ask the barber to check your eyebrows, nose hair or any other facial hair that are out of place to be removed or trimmed. The older you are the more facial hair starts growing longer and thicker in some areas, also including the ears, that you might not have had to deal with before. So, if you still think that going to a barber is not needed, look closer, because you only look in the mirror once a day and still not see it all, while someone in front of you is noticing every hair that is out of place. 12
Now we move onto the hairstyle, having short hair means that you might have had the same hairstyle forever. If you are happy with it, well done, as long as it is kept clean and styled to your liking, you nailed it. On the other hand, if you like to follow the hair fashion or like to change your hairstyle, what comes next ? If you have seen a particular hairstyle which you would like to have, a good barber will know if it is achievable and if it will suit you or not. What do I mean by this ? If the style you want needs longer hair than what you already have, you have to be patient and wait for the hair to grow long enough to achieve the desired hairstyle, once done, you also have to learn how to style it and what products you need to do so. Another thing you need to pay attention to is the way your hair grows when you want to change your style, the barber can style it for you the way you want it, but as soon as you wash your hair, it will go back to its natural growth, therefore, you will need more time than before to style it. I would like to close on one particular subject that is mostly overseen by many. If you dye your hair or use any type of chemicals such as straightening, remember that you are damaging the hair and you will need to use treatments to keep your hair looking healthy. Chemicals remove the natural oils from the hair and leave the hair looking dull, depending on the extent of the damage in the hair; you need stronger hair repair treatments. And not only chemicals from hair dye or straightening can damage your hair, but also in summer, if you are a frequent pool user, remember that there are chemicals in the water to keep it clean. Pool chemicals, salt water from the sea combined with the sun dose not leave your hair looking healthy. You might not need strong treatments, but, the use of a hair conditioner after shampooing will help more than you can think it would. A trip to the barber is not only to keep your head of hair in place, but also time for you to relax. At Antonio’s Barber Shop we think of you as soon as you think of us. How? Our online booking system can be accessed any time of day or night, it might be the first thing in the morning, or even when you are getting ready to go out . Not bothered to log onto our system, just send a message and we will get back to you so you do not have to remind yourself to book your appointment. We also call you or send you a message a day before your appointment to remind you. As soon as you arrive, you can leave your stress at the door and start your relaxing time, our receptionists will take over from there. A fresh beer or a glass of whiskey will be waiting for you too, and let the hands of the barbers do the rest. You will leave lookinsharp and relaxed, with a swagger in your feet ready to take on the world! MBR
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Malta Business Review
Low employee engagement is estimated to cost the global economy $8.1 trillion yearly
allup's latest State of the Global Workplace report finds that the U.K. and Western Europe have the lowest employee engagement levels globally at just 11%, but the region's employees assessed themselves as having high life evaluations (55% are thriving) and low negative emotions compared with employees in many other world regions. In fact, Western European employees saw a decline in stress and anger, no change in sadness and an increase of only three points for worry. Globally, employee engagement decreased by two percentage points from 2019 to 2020, and Gallup estimates that low employee engagement costs the global economy $8.1 trillion. In contrast to Western Europe, Eastern Europe's levels of employee engagement rose seven percentage points from 2019 to 2020, the largest regional increase in the world. Across Western Europe, working women (13%) were more engaged than working men (10%), while they also reported lower daily stress in 2020 (41%) than in 2019 (47%), possibly due to supportive social safety nets in many European countries, such as well-developed social systems that helped to prevent some job loss and unemployment.
The global workforce reported higher worry, stress, anger and sadness in 2020 than in the previous year. The largest increases in daily worry globally occurred in Eastern Europe (+12 points), while the percentage of younger employees in Eastern Europe experiencing daily anger doubled from 2019 to 2020. "Even before the pandemic, the new workforce was asking for a workplace that would improve their overall life and support their wellbeing. Organizations are in a unique position to improve lives and performance simultaneously," said Pa Sinyan, Gallup's Managing Partner for Europe. France and the U.K. employees reported not feeling respected at work (10% and 9%, respectively). However, this is still lower than most Eastern European countries with 32% of employees in Lithuania not feeling respected at work. In the U.K., 60% of workers consider themselves thriving, higher than Germany (59%), France (42%), Spain (42%) and Italy (41%) — although this was lower than the Nordic countries, which have the highest wellbeing levels at 74%. Overall, Europe reported stronger than the world-average thriving levels. MBR SOURCE Gallup, Inc.
PANDEMIC: ATRADIUS SURVEY REVEALS
Malta Business Review
PANDEMIC INVOICE WRITE OFFS MORE THAN DOUBLE Atradius Payment Practices Barometer survey reveals increase in use of credit led to rise in write offs and overdue invoices
usinesses across Australia are feeling the pinch following a full year of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report by the leading credit insurance firm, Atradius. The Payment Practices Barometer survey of both large and small businesses looked at B2B customer payment behaviour over the past year. The results are dramatic. 5% of all credit sales were written off as uncollectable, more than doubling the 2% averge recorded prior to the pandemic. The same story applies to late payments, 54% of business invoices are overdue (compared to 21% in the pre-pandemic year). In addition to the economic stressors, these significant increases can partly be explained by a large rise in the number of credit sales. More than 4 in 10 of the businesses polled (42%) reported accepting credit requests far more frequently than they did before the pandemic. On average it took the construction industry one week longer than last year to settle overdue invoices. Construction businesses reported an overall DSO that is twice as long as last year (now averaging 49 days). 40% of industry respondents expect DSO levels to further increase this year. A significant percentage of businesses across all sectors pointed to liquidity as one of their greatest concern alongside the health of the global economy. As much as half of the Agri-Food industry believes the domestic economy will drive improvements in their sales and profits rather than export trade.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 3 in 5 of the businesses surveyed reported an increase in debt management administrative costs. However, many businesses said that the key to navigating the difficult economic climate was agility. For example, as many as 67% of respondents in the chemicals industry believe the businesses that were most successful in adapting to the pandemic challenges, will more often accept trade credit requests from their customers going forward. Mark Hoppe, Managing Director for Atradius Oceania, said: "As the customer credit risk environment becomes more challenging with more businesses selling on credit, the insolvency environment is likely to increase. A write off rate of 5% represents significant loss and businesses can put in place measures to protect themselves against the risk of such losses. "As businesses look to grow during this time of economic uncertainty, it's important they continue to employ strategic credit management measures such as credit insurance to minimise the risk of payment defaults. This will help protect businesses from the increased risk of customer bankruptcy, help them manage the additional volume of late payments more efficiently and will also facilitate company growth by helping businesses explore new opportunities including extending more credit to existing customers and new customers, and finding new markets to explore."
Atradius is a global provider of credit insurance, surety and collection services, with a strategic presence in over 50 countries. The credit insurance, bond and collection products offered by Atradius protect companies around the world against the default risks associated with selling goods and services on credit. Atradius is a member of Grupo Catalana Occidente (GCO.MC), one of the largest insurers in Spain and one of the largest credit insurers in the world. You can find more information online at https://group. atradius.com MBR SOURCE Atradius N.V. 15
Malta Business Review
MAPFRE Middlesea CEO Javier Moreno and MAPFRE Eurasia CEO Jose Ramon Alegre
MAPFRE Middlesea launches 40th Anniversary celebrations with a special visit
n the occasion of MAPFRE Middlesea’s 40th anniversary, Jose Ramon Alegre, CEO responsible for MAPFRE’s Eurasia operations, visited the company at its headquarters in Floriana.
During his visit, Mr Alegre met the CEOs of MAPFRE’s two operations in Malta, MAPFRE Middlesea’s CEO and Country CEO for MAPFRE Malta Javier Moreno and MAPFRE MSV Life’s CEO Etienne Sciberras. He also visited the offices of MAPFRE Malta’s main local shareholders and partners, Bank of Valletta, where he met the bank’s Chairman Gordon Cordina and CEO Rick Hunkin. Whilst in Malta, Mr Alegre also met MAPFRE Middlesa directors, members of the the executive management of both companies, and visited one of the company’s regional offices and one of its agents. MAPFRE is a major player on the global insurance market, with interests spread across five continents, and one of the fastest growing insurance groups in Spain and South America. While welcoming Mr Alegre on his visit to Malta, MAPFRE Middlesea CEO Javier Moreno remarked that the establishment of MAPFRE’s operations in Malta have contributed to extend the reach of the
MAPFRE brand in Southern Europe. On the other hand, the brand’s values, and especially its focus on the customer, have enhanced further Middlesea’s forty-year reputation as a trustworthy insurer. He also took the opportunity to express his appreciation to all the company’s employees for their loyalty over the years. Middlesea Insurance p.l.c. was registered in 1981 as the first Maltese insurance company transacting general business. In 1983, the company also started writing life business. In 1994, Middlesea was the first insurance company to be listed on the Malta Stock Exchange, and founded Middlesea Valletta Life Assurance Co. Ltd (now MAPFRE MSV Life plc) in partnership with Bank of Valletta p.l.c., to focus solely on life business. In 2011, MAPFRE Internacional obtained a majority shareholding in Middlesea Insurance p.l.c., and as at that date, the company became a member of the MAPFRE Group. In 2015, Middlesea Insurance changed its name to MAPFRE Middlesea p.l.c. , thus enabling it to benefit from its association with the MAPFRE global brand, whilst retaining the goodwill generated by the local Middlesea brand. MBR
EXCLUSIVE: EX-SWEDISH PM CARL BILDT
Malta Business Review
hen the World Health Organization (WHO) needed someone to lead their flagship program to ensure global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, they did not reach for a health policy expert — they tapped Carl Bildt. Although Bildt is a veteran at geopolitics, he admits that he is new to the global health field. So when WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on him to serve as the special envoy for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), he asked “Why me?” “I know virtually nothing” about health policy, he explained to POLITICO’s Sarah Wheaton, other than himself having contracted COVID. “That was my claim to expertise on this.” Tedros’ pitch was the need for someone who has experience coordinating international efforts. And who better to smooth out differences among nearly 200 countries, layers of U.N. bureaucracy and deep-pocketed foundations like the Gates Foundation than a veteran of Balkan diplomacy? The former Swedish prime minister’s experience negotiating in the international arena includes serving as a key mediator in the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s and then as the United Nations secretary-general’s special envoy for the Balkans.
I think the EU made a mistake in the beginning. They should have allocated a certain amount to neighbours.
He then rejoined Swedish politics in 2006 to serve as his country’s minister of foreign affairs and during that time is credited with pushing the EU’s “Eastern Partnership” policy to strengthen relations with former Soviet republics such as Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine. By Cristina Gonzalez, Andrew Gray and Paul Dallison
CATCHING UP WITH…
former Swedish prime minister
In his current role, he has been impressed by the “mobilization of scientific talent all over the world” to create vaccines and other therapies “irrespective of political barriers” — a stark contrast to his previous experience of “states being in conflict with each other.” But he also admits that rising nationalist tendencies, including the erection of trade barriers, have made it more difficult to ramp up production “for virtually everything.” It also doesn’t help that ACT-A is $16 billion in the red. Bildt shied away from being too critical of nationalist tendencies within the European Union but admitted that the bloc missed a diplomatic opportunity in the region he knows well: the Balkans, where China and Russia were quick to offer their vaccines as Europe struggled to vaccinate even their own populations. “I think the EU made a mistake in the beginning,” said Bildt. “They should have allocated a certain amount to neighbours.” MBR Courtesy: POLITICO SRL 17
Malta Business Review
TAKING THE US MARKET BY STORM Toni Halonen, CEO of Bojoko, talks about why the online casino affiliate has set its sights on the fast-growing US market and how it plans to leverage the huge potential on the table.
We explain to readers who licenses online casinos in the state, why they are licensed and how they can be sure these brands are reputable and trustworthy.
With momentum now behind individual states legalising and regulating online sports betting, casino, poker, bingo and lottery, the competition among all stakeholders is becoming fierce.
Our experts also provide a step-by-step guide for creating an account at a New Jersey online casino, and also explain the different options available when it comes to depositing and withdrawing.
At Bojoko, we believe the US will become the largest, legal online gambling market in the world which is why we have put significant resources behind entering the fray.
In addition, we have created dedicated pages for key aspects of online casino play in New Jersey, including the different types of casinos – new, live, best, mobile, etc – and the bonuses available.
ince the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) a little over three years ago, the global online gambling industry has been increasingly focused on the US market.
We made our debut back in January after securing an affiliate licence from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and are already looking into other state licenses. In New Jersey, we have taken the same approach that has seen us become one of the largest affiliates in the UK where we have more than 30,000 members and 34,000 monthly site visitors. This includes providing players with a set of powerful filtering tools to enable them to browse and select New Jersey online casinos based on their own preferences. We have also created a library of highly educational content written by online casino experts from the US to help educate players about legal online casino and what to expect. 18
Our US and New Jersey online casino pages are already enjoying great traction, and as we enter more states we will continue to add more pages for specific markets. We really do believe the US will become one of the largest regulated online gambling markets in the world and are planning for Bojoko to have a big presence in North America. It is a hugely exciting time for the legal online gambling in North America and we look forward to playing our part in what will undoubtedly be a huge success story. Visit Bojoko and see US online gambling sites at https://bojoko. com/us/. MBR
Malta Business Review
From left to right: Mr. Franco Blanco (HR Director Maltco Lotteries), Mr. David A. Gatt (CCO Maltco Lotteries), Ms. Caroline Attard (Head of Marketing and Communications Maltco Lotteries), Mr. Vasileios Kasiotakis (CEO Maltco Lotteries) and Mr. Lino Micallef Borg (CFO Maltco Lotteries)
Maltco Lotteries receives four outstanding MiGEA awards
he sixth edition of Malta’s Excellence Gaming Awards took place on Friday night, 16th July at the Intercontinental Hotel. These awards have become one of the most prestigious and sought-after events in the gaming industry, showcasing the talent found throughout all facets of the gaming world. Maltco Lotteries feels honoured to have been nominated and to win multiple awards for the second consecutive year. The company has been awarded with four highly prestigious awards for ‘Best Industry’s Achiever of the Year Award (Land Based)’, ‘Best Workplace in Malta’, ‘Best CSR Gaming Company’ and the most distinguished award of the MiGEA event – ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ which was won by Maltco’s Chief Financial Officer Lino Micallef Borg. Maltco Lotteries’ CEO Mr. Vasileios Kasiotakis exclaimed that he was overwhelmed and most appreciative about the recognition of the work performed by all Maltco’s personnel, including all Maltco’s employees and over 200 Maltco Agents. He explained that as the leading player within the local land-based gaming industry, Maltco Lotteries’ participation in these Awards reinforces the company’s long-standing successful initiative and engagement to the Maltese Gaming sector. “I feel honoured that Maltco’s continuous work to enhance the gaming experience in both retail and online channels whilst offering unique gaming experiences specifically designed on responsible gaming principles, has been recognised by Gaming Industry professionals.”
Mr. Vasileios concluded, “Our company’s core values Care, Drive, Trust and Imagination have always been at the forefront of all our actions so to be at the leading position, both as an employer and through the way of operating, serving and entertaining in a responsible and respectful manner.” Mr. Lino Micallef Borg, Maltco’s CFO felt honoured to receive the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’. “I am deeply pleased and honoured to receive such a prestigious award, which I owe to the fruitful co-operation with all the staff at Maltco Lotteries. On behalf of the company I can say that we are delighted that all the effort, discipline and initiatives taken by the company to continue operating through these unprecedented times, were recognised by the judges and the industry.” Maltco Lotteries would like to reiterate the indebtedness towards the Gaming Industry professionals and will commit to continue working diligently in believing in its Human Resource effectiveness and measurable contribution for a sustainable gaming industry environment. The company has an exceptional Corporate Social Responsibility track record whereby it is consistently contributing to Malta’s society, culture and community’s well-being through unique CSR initiatives which have been recognised with the ‘Best CSR Gaming Company’ Award. For more information you may email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the company’s website, social media pages or call Maltco’s Helpline on 23883333. MBR 19
Malta Business Review
GAMING BITCOIN INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH
MBR: As CEO of Rootz, the parent company of Wildz, Caxino, and Wheelz can you tell us how critical is your role to engage in business strategy and how does it operate to be most effective given your size and scale? LR: In addition to being a leader, I need to have eyes and ears everywhere. I am always keeping on top of trends within the iGaming industry, legislation, and reporting important changes to the team. Our company is small so we’re fortunate we can adapt to changes quite quickly. We have a fantastic team and a robust system in place to be able to carry out our work efficiently. MBR: How do you describe Rootz’s culture and critical is culture to the success of your organization? LR: I think we have managed to find the perfect formula to create the best work culture and environment for our team. We are hard working, agile, and there’s no unnecessary bureaucracy. This is why we were able to release Caxino Casino during the pandemic and pull off our latest success story, Wheelz Casino. As much as we do work hard, we also advocate rest, and promote health and wellbeing. We have gifted smartwatches to our team, provide free therapy sessions and now have a new initiative- Roots Workouts. My team looks after the company, so I make it a priority to look after them. I am honoured that they trust my vision and leadership. MBR: Will you discuss Rootz’s commitment to diversity and how important is it for Rootz’s workforce to mirror the diversity of the communities it serves?
Excellence within the industry By George Carol
Interview with Lasse Rantala, CEO of Rootz Ltd.,
recently awarded with the Malta’s Best CEO of the Year during Malta’s Excellence iGaming Awards 2021
LR: Diversity is important at Rootz and we welcome people from all walks of life. We currently have just over 100 staff and 27 nationalities working with us from North and South America to Japan. We also have team members who have not necessarily worked in iGaming before but still bring a wealth of knowledge to their respective field. MBR: Your recently participated in Malta’s largest Gaming Awards- Malta’s Gaming Excellence Awards 2021,. Can you tell us your level of involvement, whether you managed to achieve any success and what significance do these awards bring to the Gaming community, giving us a brief feedback on the gala ceremony? LR: Yes, we won Malta's Best Start-Up Company of the Year Award for Wheelz Casino, Malta’s Best Online Casino Operator of the Year Award for Rootz, Malta’s Best Rising Star in iGaming for Wheelz Casino, and I also was awarded as Malta’s Best CEO of the Year! I think these awards are important and they do showcase excellence within the industry. We launched Wildz Casino just over two years ago, but we have managed to achieve so much already. It’s great to be recognised. MBR: Rootz has a long and deep commitment to Malta. Are you optimistic about Malta’s recovery and rebuilding following the FATF’s Grey listing?
My team looks after the company, so I make it a priority to look after them. I am honoured that they trust my vision and leadership. 20
LR: We are always optimistic and believe this issue will eventually be resolved. Malta is still a great country to run an iGaming business and most companies play their part to remain compliant. At Rootz, there’s a heavy emphasis on AML practices, like many companies in the iGaming industry. As a collective, we just need to continue best practices and fix remaining issues in the next coming months. MBR
Malta Business Review
Malta Business Review
Local Business Awards 2021 &
Malta’s Digital Communication Awards 2021 FRIDAY, 9th JULY 2021 | INTERCONTINENTAL MALTA Photography by Mark Pace
50th Boutique Hotel, winners of the Best Luxury Boutique Award
Multiple award winners Newark Nursery School and Kindergarten
Adam‘s Fish Shop, winners of the Best Local Delicatessan/Gourmet Food of the Year Award
Multiple award winners Cars & More
The Bioarte Limited, winners of the Best Engaged Scientific Company of the Year Award
Best Agri-food Manufacturer & Supplier of the Year Award winner, JC Micallef
Little Me Childcare, winners of the Excellence in Development & Improvement of Childcare Knowledge & Skills Award
Multiple award winners, Titan International
Santa Lucia Café, winners of the Best Local Café of the Year Award
Award nominees, Jeff’s Pastizzeria
Sunnara Gourmet Fish Shop, winners of the Best Local Seafood Outlet of the Year Award
Multiple Award winners, Sphinx, presented by Charles Schiavone, Country Manager for DHL Malta
Best Local Florist of the Year award winners, Il-Qronfla 22
anding Awards Event
Malta Business Review
Multiple award winners, Fontanella
Multiple award winners, Bolt
Multiple award winners, FNG Supplies
Main sponsors Cybergate Security
Gainchanger, winners of the Best SEO Provider of the Year Award
Nominees and award winners, Carisma and Mannarinu Caterers
Malta’s Best Local Education Service of the Year Award winners, Apex Childcare Centres
Multiple award winners, 4 Sight Group
Multiple award winners Bouquet of Love
V&C Group, winners of the Best Project Contractor of the Year Award presented by judge Paul Gauci (right)
Multiple award winners, Broadwing Recruitment
Malta Car Trader, winners of the Best Automation Import Company of the Year Award
Maurice Mizzi, winner of the Best Building and Construction CEO Award
Multiple award winners, MITA
Multiple award winners, Growth Gurus 23
Malta Business Review
Maltese businesses do not deserve grey listed country By Fabian Demicoli
Businesses, especially small businesses, have experienced a high level of regulatory compliance and costs
he fact that Malta has carried out an impressive level of effort in order to reach international AML obligations and build its institutions, is something that our organisation is well cognisant of, because our members have lived through it all. Businesses, especially small businesses, have experienced a high level of regulatory compliance and costs associated to this, ever since Malta fell under the scrutiny of the EU and that of international players. Operating an enterprise in Malta has become very difficult over the last years however this still does not compare to losing Malta’s reputation and operating from a grey listed country. Maltese businesses do not want to operate within an economy of shady repute and want their name cleared in the immediate.
It is now very important to really understand what Malta has missed out on and address the real problems that have landed Malta in this situation in the first place. Small businesses fear that what will come next from our policy makers will be more of the same and they will continue bearing the brunt for the deplorable actions carried out by a few. The SME Chamber will therefore continue to monitor the situation in close contact with members in the coming days. The SME Chamber is also currently assessing how the grey listing will further impact the performance of our economy, amongst the most important of which in this case is the functioning and accessibility to banking facilities. The Malta Chamber of SMEs will make use of all the resources that will become available out of the FATF exercise in order
to ensure that the problems are tackled properly and in a timely manner. Malta’s reputation has now been very badly tarnished and we must all do our utmost to flip this over completely and rebuild Malta’s reputation in a way that leaves no room for doubt. The Malta Chamber of SMEs calls on the government to make Malta the AML centre of excellence. Malta has now hit rock bottom and the only way to turn this around is to become THE country of repute when it comes to AML compliance. For a country with limited resources like Malta, reputation was one of the pillars giving us standing. Regaining our reputable stand will not be an easy process, yet it is a must and an urgent one. MBR Thanks: Malta Chamber of SMEs
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Excellence Awards 2021 CHALLENGING THE ‘NEW NORM’ OF GAMING SUCCESS
FRIDAY, 16th JULY 2021 | INTERCONTINENTAL MALTA Photography by Mark Pace
Multiple award winners MALTCO Lotteries
FinXP, winners of the Best Alternative Banking Solutions Award
Hacksaw Gaming, joint winners of the Best Rising Star in Gaming award
Gaming 1, winners of three prestigious awards
Multiple award winners, Pragmatic Play
Gameart took home Malta’s Best Online Slots & RNG award
Betconstruct, winners of Malta’s Best Gaming Mark of Excellence Award
Synot Games won the Best Gaming New Slots Developer award
Lauryn Duncan (left) of Microgaming accepting the award for Best Gaming Casino Supplier of the Year
Organisers of Malta’s Gaming Excellence Awards, Margaret Brincat & Martin Vella of Dynamic Events
Multiple award winners Rootz
Julian Goffin, CEO of Finductive, accepting the award for Best Payment Provider Company of the Year
GAMES FOR TRUE PLAYERS
Yazmin Helledie entertained the guests with her angelic voice
SINGLE RESOLUTION BOARD
utstanding Awards Event
My Affiliates, winners of the Best Industry Contributor of the Year Award
Stakelogic took home three prestigious awards
Altenar won the Best Online Sportsbetting Supplier of the Year award
Multiple award winners, Enteractive
Lino Micallef Borg (left), CFO of MALTCO Lotteries, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award
Evenbet Gaming, winners of the Best Gaming Software Platform Provider award
Award nominees, Swintt
Multiple award winners SKS365 Malta
Aspire Global won the award for Best Online Industry Achiever of the Year
Julia Peeva-Sertov (2nd from left), CEO of Amusnet Gaming, won the Best Woman Leader award
Wheelz, joint winners of the Best Rising Star in Gaming award
Soft2Bet won the Best Online Casino Product of the Year award
Magician & illusionist, Vanni Pulé and his assistant Sarah Kurvinan
Malta Business Review
THE MGA PUBLISHES ITS 2020 ANNUAL REPORT & FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
he Malta Gaming Authority (MGA/Authority) is publishing its Annual Report and audited Financial Statements for the financial year ending 31 December 2020. The report provides an overview of the work performed throughout the year and highlights major projects undertaken by the Authority throughout the same period. In addition, the report also outlines the performance of the Maltese gaming industry during 2020 as well as a medium-term outlook into the future, followed by a detailed report explaining key statistics for the land-based and online gaming sectors in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The full report may be accessed at https://www.mga.org.mt/wp-content/uploads/ MGA-AR-2020-web.pdf. The following are the key highlights from the Annual Report covering the year 2020: Between January and December 2020, following information which emerged from compliance audits, compliance reviews, and formal investigations, the Authority issued 69 warnings, suspended 3 licences, and cancelled another 12. In addition, the MGA issued a total of 24 administrative penalties. In 2020, 30 compliance audits were conducted by the Compliance and AML function, one of which related to a live studio, and 324 desktop reviews were carried out, of which 98 identified deficiencies which were accordingly escalated to the Compliance and Enforcement Committee. In 2020, 8 individuals and companies were deemed not to be up to the Authority’s probity standards by the Fit & Proper Committee, mainly on the basis of mitigating the risks of money laundering or funding of terrorism. During the twelve-month period of 2020, a total of 1,475 criminal probity screening checks were undertaken, an increase of 13.5% when compared to the year 2019. In terms of AML/CFT, during the twelve-month period of 2020, a total of 27 supervisory examinations on online gaming licensees were conducted by the MGA, of which 10 were full scope examinations, 3 were targeted examinations, 8 were thematic examinations, and 6 were supervisory meetings. In 2020, the MGA conducted a total of 65 interviews with prospective MLROs and key persons carrying out the AML/CFT function to determine the knowledge and suitability of each candidate, out of which 40 were approved, 17 were conditionally approved and 8 were rejected. The Commercial Communication Committee of the MGA took action against 10 adverts or promotions that, in the opinion of the Committee, inappropriately exploited the COVID-19 pandemic. During 2020 the Player Support Unit received a total of 5,625 requests for assistance, a 58% increase over 2019, potentially stemming at least partly from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on player behaviour. In its efforts to boost knowledge sharing and cooperation with international counterparts, the MGA hosted a delegation of members of the Lotteries and Gaming Board and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
The Authority received 67 international cooperation requests from other regulators and sent 47 such requests, with the majority referring to requests for background checks as part of an authorisation process. During the year 2020, a total of 168 requests for information specifically relating to the manipulation of sports competitions or breaches in sports rules were submitted by enforcement agencies, sport governing bodies, integrity units, and other regulatory bodies. Additionally, a total of 288 suspicious betting reports from licensees and other concerned parties were received. During the period under review, the Authority was a direct participant in 20 different investigations across the globe relating to manipulation of sports competitions or breaches in sports rules. Recognising the importance of establishing data sharing agreements with relevant stakeholders, including sport governing bodies and other platforms whose function includes the detection of suspicious betting activities, the MGA signed a total of five agreements, namely a data sharing agreement with the International Cricket Council, the Swedish Football Association, the Darts Regulation Authority, the World Professional Billiards & Snooker Association, and the Slovak Football Association. During 2020, the MGA and the FIAU signed an updated version of the MoU which brought forth better cooperative instruments for the supervision of AML/CFT in the gaming sector. The Authority entered into an MoU with the Malta Business Registry with the aim of facilitating the ongoing close communication between authorities and the effective sharing of information. With the aim of increasing cooperation with our international counterparts, an MoU was agreed to by the MGA and the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit (the Dutch Gambling Authority) on the basis that the two authorities will support each other by sharing best practices and information in support of their responsibilities at law, whilst also engaging in discussions on policy matters of interest. The MGA also enhanced its collaboration with the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations by creating a process whereby any entity that applies for a non-profit game is only issued with a permit if such an entity is a registered and compliant voluntary organisation. Recognising the importance of regular dialogue with stakeholders, throughout 2020, over 55 external communications were sent, providing a synopsis of various updates and developments within the Authority and industry. In publishing this report, the CEO, Dr Carl Brincat said: “The year 2020 will undoubtedly be remembered for the challenges the pandemic presented us with, and I am proud of the Authority’s employees who worked tirelessly to ensure that we continued to perform the functions required of us at law. Keeping the ship steady during a challenging year serves as a strong foundation for us to look ahead with renewed commitment to keep building on the positives and improve on our shortcomings, to reach new heights in our regulatory approach.” MBR
EU CLIMATE LAW
EU CLIMATE LAW:
MEPs confirm deal on climate neutrality by 2050 By Thomas Haahr
Malta Business Review
assess the collective progress made by all EU countries, as well as the consistency of national measures, towards the EU’s goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050.
European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change
Given the importance of independent scientific advice, and on the basis of a proposal from Parliament, a European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change will be set up to monitor progress and to assess whether European policy is consistent with these objectives.
Parliament rapporteur Jytte Guteland (S&D, Sweden) said: “I am proud that we finally have a climate law. We confirmed a net emissions reductions target of at least 55%, closer to 57% by 2030 according to our agreement with the Commission. I would have preferred to go even further, but this is a good deal based on science that will make a big difference. The EU must now reduce emissions more in the next decade than it has in the previous three decades combined, and we have new and more ambitious targets that can inspire more countries to step up.”
• EU carbon sinks will de facto raise 2030 emissions reduction target to 57% • Greenhouse gas budget must guide 2040-target • New independent EU scientific body to monitor progress
he new EU Climate Law increases the EU’s 2030 emissions reductions target from 40% to at least 55%. With the contribution from new carbon sinks it could raise to 57%. Parliament endorsed the Climate Law, agreed informally with member states in April, with 442 votes to 203 and 51 abstentions. It transforms the European Green Deal’s political commitment to EU climate neutrality by 2050 into a binding obligation. It gives European citizens and businesses the legal certainty and predictability they need to plan for this transition. After 2050, the EU will aim for negative emissions.
Stepping up ambition in 2030
The new EU Climate Law increases the EU’s target for reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 from 40% to at least 55%, compared to 1990 levels. Additionally, an
upcoming proposal from the Commission on the LULUCF Regulation to regulate GHG emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry, will increase EU carbon sinks and will hence de facto increase the 2030 EU’s target to 57%.
Greenhouse gas budget must guide upcoming 2040 target
The Commission will make a proposal for a 2040 target at the latest six months after the first global review in 2023 foreseen in the Paris Agreement. In line with Parliament’s proposal, the Commission will publish the maximum amount of GHG emissions estimated the EU can emit until 2050 without endangering the EU’s commitments under the Agreement. This so-called ‘GHG budget’ will be one of the criteria to define the EU’s revised 2040 target. By 30 September 2023, and every five years thereafter, the Commission will
The EU must now reduce emissions more in the next decade than it has in the previous three decades combined, and we have new and more ambitious targets that can inspire more countries to step up.
The deal is expected to be approved by the Council shortly. The Regulation will then be published in the Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later. The Commission plans to present a series of proposals on 14 July 2021 in order for the EU to be able to reach the more ambitious 2030-target.
Parliament has played an important role in pushing for more ambitious EU climate legislation and declared a climate emergency on 28 November 2019. MBR Courtesy: European Parliament 29
Malta Business Review
EU FARM POLICY
EU FARM POLICY REFORM:
Parliament and Council strike a deal By Ján Jakubov
arliament’s and Council’s negotiators reached an informal political agreement on three EU laws that will govern the 2023-2027 EU farm policy. Negotiators endorsed a policy shift that should tailor the EU’s farm policy better to the needs of individual member states, but they insist the European Union’s agricultural policy must also remain common. The new rules provide that national governments should draft strategic plans, which the Commission will endorse, specifying how they intend to implement EU objectives on the ground. The Commission would be checking their performance as well as their compliance with EU rules.
Promoting a better environmental performance for EU farms
Thanks to MEPs, preserving and strengthening biodiversity in the EU and meeting the European Union’s commitments under the Paris Agreement will become one of the objectives of the future EU farm policy. Parliament also ensured that the Commission, when assessing national strategic plans, should check their contribution to the EU’s environmental and climate commitments and the 2030 EU Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies targets. During the negotiations, Parliament insisted on strengthening mandatory climate and environmentally-friendly practices, the so-called conditionality, that each farmer must apply to get direct support. On top of that, MEPs got EU governments on board to dedicate at least 35% of the rural development budget to environmental and climate-related measures and, as a general rule, at least 25% of the direct payments budget to eco-schemes, which would be voluntary but would increase farmers’ income. More money for small farms and young farmers, and better working conditions MEPs ensured that at least 10% of national direct payments would have to be used to support small and medium-sized farms. To this end, member states could use a redistributive top-up payment or decide to progressively reduce annual direct payments to farmers above €60 000, and cap them at €100 000. If such a scheme is introduced, national governments could allow farmers to deduct 50% of agriculture-related salaries from the total amount before reduction. EU states could use at least 3% of their CAP budgets to support young farmers. Support for new farmers could be granted from rural development funding. 30
MEPs also insisted on protecting the rights of farm workers more robustly. They got Council on board for setting up a mechanism to connect, as of 2025 at the latest, national labour inspectors with CAP paying agencies to penalise breaches of EU labour rules.
Helping farmers deal with risks and crises
Throughout the negotiations, Parliament pushed for further measures to help farmers cope with risks and potential future crises. They introduced measures to ensure that the market will be more transparent and better prepared for potential turbulence, and that practices aiming for higher environmental, animal health, or animal welfare standards will be exempt from competition rules. The existing crisis reserve, helping farmers with price or market instability, will be turned from an ad-hoc instrument to a permanent one with a proper budget.
More transparency to protect EU funds and higher sanctions for repeated breaches
MEPs insisted on more transparency on the final beneficiaries of EU subsidies and ensured that member states will be given access to the EU data-mining tool to avoid circumventing EU rules and to duly protect EU funds. Parliament also made sure that those who repeatedly fail to comply with EU requirements (e.g. on the environment and animal welfare), will face increased sanctions. This should cost farmers 10% of their entitlements (up from today’s 5%).
Following the political agreement, the text still need to be technically and legally fine-tuned. It will then have to be approved by the Parliament - first by the Agriculture Committee and then by the full House- and by the Council, to enter into force. New EU farm policy rules should be applicable as of 1 January 2023.
The last reform of the EU farm policy, established in 1962, dates back to 2013. The 2013-2020 CAP rules expired on 31 December 2020 but they were extended and replaced by transitional rules, until the end of 2022. The CAP accounts for less than a third (31.95% or €386.6 billion) of the 2021-2027 EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework budget (€1.21 trillion). Around 70% of the CAP budget supports the income of six to seven million EU farms. MBR Courtesy: European Parliament
EU COMMISSION’S 2020 RULE OF LAW REPORT
arliament’s assessment of the Commission’s 2020 report on the rule of law provides ways to improve the mechanism so that it can better protect EU values. During the plenary debate on Wednesday, a broad majority of speakers called on the Council and the Commission to take decisive action to address the deterioration of EU values in various member states. Most focused on specific issues such as the increased pressure on civil society and media freedom, and the protection of minorities and vulnerable groups. Others disagreed, arguing that the report should have focused on other issues, or that its approach is excessive.
A more ambitious and effective approach
In the report by Domènec Ruiz Devesa (S&D, ES), adopted with 509 votes in favour, 152 against, and 28 abstentions on Thursday, Parliament welcomes the Commission’s findings on the state of the rule of law in the EU and each member state. However, it calls for a broader scope (encompassing all EU values and especially democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental rights which are mutually reinforcing and, when undermined, may pose a systemic threat to the Union) to be applied, and for more nuance in distinguishing systemic breaches from individual ones. The report, which is currently a standalone mechanism, should be one part of a permanent, comprehensive, and effective mechanism, MEPs urge, for example by including concrete recommendations and milestones linked to the Article 7 procedure, the budget conditionality mechanism, and infringement procedures.
Malta Business Review
LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE COMMISSION’S 2020 RULE OF LAW REPORT by Kyriakos Klosidis
In the same text, MEPs also took stock of developments, and highlighted their priorities and concerns in protecting EU values. The resolution decries “the political pressure in Hungary and Poland [...] to avoid national judges asking questions to the CJEU”, in contravention of the Treaties. It also addresses attempts in Poland to undermine the independence of the country’s Ombudsman, and Hungary’s failure to implement a Court of Justice of the EU ruling in relation to restrictions imposed on the financing of civil society organisations. MEPs urge the Commission to refer Hungary to the Court and to request dissuasive financial sanctions.
The rapporteur Domènec Ruiz Devesa (S&D, ES) commented: “I welcome the Commission’s efforts, and especially that it is examining the situation on the ground and not from Brussels. However, we expect a more ambitious approach for the upcoming 2021 report, so that the Commission can fulfil its duties as the guardian of EU values in their entirety. Beyond methodological improvements, the Commission and the Council need to find the political courage to stand up to autocrats that take advantage of our Union while undermining it.” MBR Courtesy: European Parliament
Malta Business Review
MILLE MIGLIA CLASSIC CHRONOGRAPH RATICOSA A timepiece inspired by the legendary pass of “the world’s most beautiful race”
You win the 1000 Miglia race at the Raticosa Pass.
t was in these terms that Enzo Ferrari evoked one of the most spectacular stages of the famous Italian race, which is also one of the finest driving roads in the entire Italian peninsula. Together with the Futa Pass, it is also one of the only sections that can still be driven as it was in 1955. Chopard now presents the new Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph Raticosa in tribute to this legendary pass. Issued in two 500-piece limited series, it features a varnished black or off-white dial and an open caseback, allowing full visibility of the Chronometer-certified movement. This timepiece reflects the ongoing partnership between Chopard and the 1000 Miglia: an alliance built on wholehearted respect for classic cars, enduring support for motorsports and an unswerving eye for the highest quality watches at every turn. Snaking through the Apennines, the Raticosa Pass rises to almost 1,000 metres above sea level. The road winds its way north, from Florence to Bologna and crosses the Alpide belt, from Tuscany to Emilia-Romagna. This area is known as ‘supercar country’, thanks to its close affiliation with carmakers including Maserati and Lamborghini, and has great historical significance. Among the iconic competitors to tackle its twists and turns are Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson, who were spurred on to victory here during their record-breaking run at the 1955 edition of the 1000 Miglia. And it’s exactly this sort of extremely intense racing memories – implying the all-important need for meticulously precise timekeeping – that Chopard has engineered into its new Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph Raticosa timepiece. 32
High-precision timekeeping functions
The 42 mm-diameter case is manufactured from stainless steel: water-resistant to 50 metres, it guarantees rugged sturdiness along with ergonomics and reliability. Its developers have given top priority to the fundamental racing values of practicality and durability. Ready to take on the tough conditions of the race, the dial is protected by glare-resistant sapphire crystal, merging spectacular design with functional utility. Finally, the chronograph movement, chronometer-certified by the COSC, boasts a frequency of 28,800 vph (4 Hz) and has a 42-hour power reserve. The chronograph’s functions are driven by a meticulous device installed at the heart of this timepiece. On the dial, the 30-minute counter appears at 9 o’clock and the hours counter at 6 o’clock. The date aperture has been placed between 4 and 5 o’clock and the tachymeter scale built into the inner bezel ring serves as the driver’s best friend, calculating speed based on travel time and distance. It’s an essential feature of an accurate racing timepiece and one on which gentlemen drivers can rely.
A timepiece with a refined aesthetic
The Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph Raticosa proves a perfect choice for an entire generation of gentlemen drivers who value both high-precision watchmaking and vintage aesthetics. Its chestnut brown calfskin leather strap is equipped with a black rubber lining inspired by 1960s Dunlop tyres – a nod to Chopard’s passion for classic cars.
The dial itself comes in black or varnished off-white versions The Arabic numerals appear in the same shade of beige showcased by the hands and strap stitching. On the back of the watch, the open caseback is secured with screws and is bearing the 1000 Miglia logo, and a Raticosa inscription. Together, these elements create a watch worthy of Italy’s most exciting racing road – furthering the legacy of the Raticosa Pass with every meticulous tick of those rhodium-plated hands.
A collector’s piece
The Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph Raticosa Edition is much more than a mere timepiece; it symbolises the unconditional passion of several generations of men for motorsport, which Chopard’s Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele himself is proud to perpetuate. It is a collector's item, a tribute to a shining beacon of classic racing, steeped in technical brilliance matched by suave, stylish aesthetics. Jacky Ickx once said that “the Raticosa Pass is a unique place where you recognise the real gentlemen drivers.” Now, like the inimitable stretch of racing road, Chopard’s Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph Raticosa will do the same. Any man who wears this watch on his wrist will be, unmistakably, a true gentleman driver.
SRB: ECON COMMITTEE
Malta Business Review
When it comes to the Single Resolution Fund, the emergency fund that can be called on in times of crisis, we are on track to meet the target of 1% of total covered deposits by the end of 2023.
Dr Elke König, Chair of the SRB
SRB CHAIR, SPEECH BY ELKE KÖNIG AT THE ECON COMMITTEE By Maria Diaz Oliver
ood morning Madam Chair and good morning honourable members, It is a pleasure to be with you once again at the ECON Committee. It’s only been 3 months since we last met, but, nevertheless, it is a good opportunity to report on the SRB’s activities as we have just published our Annual Report. Hopefully, we are seeing the beginning of the end of the pandemic in Europe, and with that a return to a more ‘normal’ way of living, and a return to a more ‘normal’ type of economy. Recent economic and earnings forecasts, thanks to progress in vaccinations, give rise to cautious optimism. However, we know that Covid implications might not yet be fully depicted in bank’s balance sheets. Going forward, one of the key challenges for authorities will be to manage the orderly phasing-out of temporary support measures. Although the SRB sits towards the end of the crisis management process, we will act according to our mandate, should a bank get into difficulty. With prudent management, we – meaning the real economy, banks as well as regulators - can weather the transition and, hopefully, we can turn the recovery into an expansion.
Overall, banks and regulators have worked well together to overcome the crisis in the past year. At the SRB, we showed flexibility, but also stayed firm on our core tasks, that is to say, updating all resolution plans and ensuring that banks received the 2022 and 2024 MREL targets and clear operational targets for 2021 and beyond. If you’d like more information, I would invite you to read our Annual Report for 2020, which is the official reason I am addressing this committee today. It is now available on the SRB’s website, which, incidentally, was relaunched yesterday, along with our fresh new visual identity. Should you have any questions on the report, I would be happy to answer them during today’s session, but I assume that you are more interested in our next steps. Madam Chair, let me now outline some of our recent achievements. The SRB has continued to work on its core mission – to make every bank under our remit resolvable. We have concluded the annual resolution planning cycle 2020 with the result of better and enhanced plans across the SRB remit. For the vast majority of our banks, we anticipate resolution scenarios should they fail, in accordance with the Public Interest Assessment, which I will come onto later. Normal insolvency remains an option for some SRB banks, like promotional banks. We are making tangible progress with respect to the build-up of MREL capacity in line with the still new BRRD-II requirements. Here I am pleased to report that MREL shortfalls overall decreased in 2020. We started to publish regularly detailed MREL statistics on our website – something you in this house had asked for. In absolute terms, the overall shortfall dropped to 19.5 billion euro in December 2020, from 29.7 billion euro in June 2020, and 34.2 billion in December 2019. Banks are also gradually advancing with meeting subordination requirements. Our message to the banks is clear: the market is wide open and they need to continue issuing. They know their requirements and it is up to them to decide upon buffers to keep them safe. So, there is no reason to wait for “tomorrow”. When it comes to the Single Resolution Fund, the emergency fund that can be called on in times of crisis, we are on track to meet the target of 1% of total covered deposits by the end of 2023. The annual contributions of just over 10 billion euro for this year were collected yesterday, so the fund now contains 52 billion euro. As deposits have been rising sharply since 2019, we currently assume that the fund will reach over 70 billion euro in 2024. Staying with the SRF, we are working closely with the ESM to ensure the successful operation of the Common Backstop by early next year. This concerns our work to assess the banking sector’s repayment capacity to ensure the backstop is fiscally neutral- thus ensuring the taxpayer is protected - as well as our approach to secured lending for liquidity support. On secured lending, it is our intention, when available and practical, to also accept collateral of lesser quality. The idea is to complement central bank funding options. I’m happy to expand in case of interest during the Q&A. Continued on page 37 33
Malta Business Review
EU: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN POLICING
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN POLICING:
Safeguards needed against mass surveillance By Janne Ojamo
he use of Artificial Intelligence in law enforcement and the judiciary should be subject to strong safeguards and human oversight, says the Civil Liberties Committee.
In a draft report adopted with 36 votes to 24, and 6 abstentions, MEPs highlight the need for democratic guarantees and accountability for the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in law enforcement.
Measures against discrimination
MEPs worry that the use of AI systems in policing could potentially lead to mass surveillance, breaching key EU principles of proportionality and necessity. The committee warns that otherwise legal AI applications could be re-purposed for mass surveillance. The draft resolution highlights the potential for bias and discrimination in the algorithms on which AI and machine-learning systems are based. As a system’s results depend on its inputs (such as training data), it is important to take algorithm bias into account. Currently, AI-based identification systems are inaccurate and can wrongly identify minority ethnic groups, LGBTI people, seniors and women, among other groups. In addition, AI-powered predictions can amplify existing discrimination, a concern in the context of law enforcement and the judiciary.
Use of facial recognition and other biometric data by the police and the judiciary
Addressing specific techniques available to the police and the judiciary, the committee notes that AI should not be used to predict behaviour based on past actions or group characteristics. 34
On facial recognition, MEPs note that different systems have different implications. They demand a permanent ban on the use of biometric details like gait, fingerprints, DNA or voice to recognise people in publicly accessible spaces. The committee wants to ban law enforcement from using private facial recognition databases, like the already used Clearview AI. MEPs also ask for a ban on assigning scores to citizens based on AI, stressing that it would violate the principles of basic human dignity. Finally, facial recognition should not be used for identification until such systems comply with fundamental rights, state MEPs. The use of biometric data for remote identification is of particular concern to MEPs. For example, automated recognition-based border control gates and the iBorderCtrl project (a "smart liedetection system" for traveller entry to the EU) are problematic and should be discontinued, say MEPs, who urge the Commission to open infringement procedures against member states if necessary.
Rapporteur Petar Vitanov (S&D, BG) said: “The use of AI is growing exponentially, and things that we thought possible only in sci-fi books and movies – predictive policing, mass surveillance using biometric data – are a reality in some countries. I am satisfied that the majority of the Civil Liberties Committee recognises the inherent danger of such practices for our democracy. Technical progress should never come at the expense of people’s fundamental rights.” MBR Courtesy: European Parliament
Malta Business Review
Cryptocurrency INVESTING IN
BITCOIN IS CONSIDERED THE BEST PLACE FOR BEGINNER CRYPTO INVESTORS TO START
he cryptocurrency market has been explosive over the past year. COVID-19 has forced a significant shift in consumer behaviour, wherein an overwhelming reliance on online shopping has led to an in-crease in merchants endorsing BTC as a method of payment, further fuelling demand and value. As institutions, governments and ordinary savers continue to embrace Bitcoin, it will continue to snow-ball with rapidity and ease. Since its creation in 2009, Bitcoin has grown exponentially. It first hit the headlines in 2017 after soaring from $650 to almost $20,000 during the same year. When it crashed in March 2020, Bitcoin was trading for below $6,000 until it shot to $60,000 a year later. In its relatively short life-time, Bitcoin has already steamrolled past structural and cultural adoption milestones. Today, Bitcoin is a $1trillion asset. Proponents believe investing in BTC could be the best way to survive the economic shifts we are witnessing in the world today. In fact, several large companies have already started converting their fiat balances into Bitcoin, despite the skepticism of Bitcoin doubters who believe that Bitcoin has no intrinsic value. Its recent surge in popularity has come in part due to the huge US stimulus package, and for being endorsed by tech giants, such as PayPal and Tesla. The latest prominent figure to throw his support behind Bitcoin is Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, who labelled
Bitcoin as a product of ‘mathematical genius’. The American philanthropist and tech-visionary revealed he believes in the future of BTC as a long-term investment, likening it to the ‘new gold.’ As with any investment, it is important to do your research first and understand what you’re getting into. Bitcoin is known for its volatility. However, once you’ve accepted the risk and met your financial priorities, the next step to investing is to actually buying in. Bitcoin brokerages like Instacoins allow you to access Bitcoin to just a few clicks. Instacoins provides secure and instant ac-cess to the world’s first cryptocurrency through a simple online transfer. All you need is a verifiable email address, a digital wallet to store your Bitcoins and a valid Instacoins account. Once you have everything in order, you can turn your EUR, AUD, CAD, CHF, NOK, ZAR, USD or GBP to Bitcoin — exchange is instant. From there on, you can either opt to hold on to your bitcoin or else, you can trade for commodities and online services. Visit www.instacoins.com to learn more about how you can set-up your account and make your fiat-to-crypto exchanges.
This is not financial advice. Bitcoin investment is complex, volatile and could expose investors to losses. It is not necessarily a safe haven but it is undoubtedly an interesting way to diversify in today’s financial climate. MBR 35
Malta Business Review
AIR MALTA OPERATES ITS FIRST FLIGHT TO LIBYA SINCE 2014
Air Malta operates its first flight to Libya since 2014
ir Malta operated a flight to Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport yesterday morning carrying a Maltese delegation led by Finance and Employment Minister Clyde Caruana and Air Malta’s Executive Chairperson David G Curmi.
The delegation, which included aviation safety experts of both countries, discussed the eventual resumption of scheduled flight services between the two countries. Following the one-day visit, Minister Clyde Caruana said, “Seeing the Air Malta plane on Libyan soil in years is a certainly a positive sign. We must continue working together to see progress in aviation. Malta and Libya supported each other on many fronts over the past decades and we will continue strengthening this strong relationship between the two peoples.”
Libya was always a very important market for the Airline, and we are happy to have had the opportunity to discuss commercial operations to the country with our Libyan counterparts.
Air Malta’s Executive Chairman added, “The resumption of scheduled services between Malta and Tripoli is seen by Air Malta as an important step. Libya was always a very important market for the Airline, and we are happy to have had the opportunity to discuss commercial operations to the country with our Libyan counterparts. Such flight services will increase cooperation between the two countries on several aspects be they economic, social, or cultural. We are eager to resume our services subject to careful assessments to conduct a safe and viable commercial operation and reconnect both countries for the benefit of both nations.” Air Malta operated its last scheduled service to Tripoli International Airport in July 2014. Flights to Benghazi were also suspended following the closure of the airport in May of that year. 36
Air Malta flight KM7692 upon landing at Mitiga Airport
SRB: ECON COMMITTEE
Malta Business Review
Continued from page 33 Our policy work has continued and we recently published additional guidance for the industry on various aspects like liquidity in resolution or business continuity when it comes to Financial Market Intermediaries (FMI). In this respect, banks will be held accountable for timely implementation as part of the next planning cycle which started in April. There has been a lot of discussion about the SRB’s approach to the so called Public Interest Assessment. As announced, the Public Interest Assessment now covers the consideration of system-wide events and obviously in the current context, this is even more relevant. I’d expect that this will broaden the remit of banks for which resolution and not national insolvency procedures will be the solution in case they fail. Let me now touch on a sensitive point, home-host frictions. In the Banking Union this should be a topic of the past, but unfortunately it is not. There are several reasons for this, one of them the missing 3rd pillar of the Banking Union. But another one the “trust” placed in resolution strategies, that is, the trust in the SRB in really enacting a so-called Single Point of Entry or SPE resolution strategy. Under an SPE approach, the group resolution authority focusses on all subsidiaries remaining well-capitalised going-concern entities that stay “out of resolution”. Only the resolution entity, in other words, the parent company, should be the direct target of resolution powers, and operational subsidiaries are preserved and would not themselves be subject to resolution. The SPE approach avoids the disruption caused by the application of resolution action in multiple entities, potentially by multiple authorities within a group that is dependent on intragroup services. At the same time, one needs to acknowledge that most company, tax and insolvency laws focus on individual legal entities which poses a challenge on the effective implementation of SPE.
In this house, the idea of the ‘level-playing field’ is often mentioned, be it in ECON or in one of the other committees. Well, if we are serious about having a European framework that treats all banks and all depositors equally, then we do need to get reforms on the way, not least to the deposit insurance scheme in place. Equal treatment throughout the Banking Union with EDIS as a strong EU safety net, and sound governance at EU level, will bolster the financial integration that is needed to have a solid return on the investments made to establish the Banking Union The time for beating about the bush is over – we lack EDIS, and we must get that show on the road. I know that this is something the Eurogroup President, Paschal Donohue, is keen to see progressed and I very much support his position. Another idea recently floated is that of UBS Chairman Axel Weber, when he talks about a European Charter for significant institutions to overcome the problem of fragmentation. I think these ideas certainly provide food for thought.
Ensuring that this SPE strategy is operationalised fully is a key priority and will hopefully help overcoming the homehost friction that otherwise fragments the market and might have a negative impact on financial stability.
In principle, the SPE approach relies on the upstreaming of losses to the parent and the down streaming of capital to an ailing subsidiary. By enshrining the SPE approach into the bank’s financial structure in ‘going concern’, the economic commitment of a parent to its subsidiary will be enhanced over and above the prepositioning of internal MREL. This should also reduce any concern that the SRB might opt for a variant strategy that is misaligned to the interests of a subsidiary. In effect, the resolution authority’s discretion would be materially limited. The key issue is to ensure the subsidiary is not ‘abandoned’ in resolution, even in cases where the parent itself is ailing. Ensuring that this SPE strategy is operationalised fully is a key priority and will hopefully help overcoming the home-host friction that otherwise fragments the market and might have a negative impact on financial stability. At the SRB, we are following very closely the review of the Crisis Management & Deposit Insurance Framework, being carried out by the European Commission at present. We have a good crisis management framework, but let me be clear – there is room for improvement. For example, at the moment, we are operating in a way where many national solutions have to be found, and are found in cases where resolution is deemed not possible. This leads to different outcomes depending on the country. This is hardly conducive to the development of a European internal market. We have talked about harmonising or rather enabling bank liquidation for long – next to nothing has happened; and the fragility of national systems might be taken as an excuse for ongoing bailouts in disguise. And, honourable members, I am sure that bail-outs in disguise was not what this house had in mind when it voted to create the Banking Union.
So with all that in mind, I very much welcome the Commission’s initiative on the CMDI review and I hope some much needed improvements can be made on the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and the Single Resolution Mechanism Regulation, as well as on the Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive. Just as the framework overall could be improved, the SRB is always striving for better too. In terms of resolution, our visibility of banks’ progress on resolvability will be further enhanced by the resolvability assessment that is part of the resolution plan. Becoming resolvable is a multi-annual project. This gives banks the opportunity to carry out the required work in a structured manner. Our annual assessment is to identify and address any impediments to the resolution of the bank and to set its MREL. As part of this assessment, the SRB will benchmark banks’ resolvability progress based on a dedicated tool, designed as a “heatmap” to measure progress and ensure a consistent assessment. Once we have gained some experience this can also be the tool to provide transparency to the public. We are perhaps in the calm before the storm. No one can really tell. But regardless, we must use our time now wisely. We have to continue with our work to ensure that each and every bank is resolvable. It is only in this way that we can ensure financial stability, while protecting taxpayers’ money. And I dearly hope that CMDI and finalising the Banking Union will also see the finishing line soon. Madam Chair, honourable members, I am drawing to a close. I want to thank you for the time you have afforded me today and I look forward to your questions. MBR Courtesy: SRB 37
Malta Business Review
NEW EU ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME
New EU environment programme • Alignment with the EU Green Deal on climate and biodiversity • Sustainability and environment objectives to be part of national plans under the European Semester • Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and other environmentally harmful subsidies by 2027
he eighth Environment Action Programme will guide European environmental policy until 2030 and must accelerate the EU’s transition to a green economy, Parliament agreed Thursday.
MEPs adopted their position for negotiations with member states on the “eighth General Union Environment Action Programme (EAP) to 2030” with 518 votes to 130 and 47 abstentions. For the EU to become a climate-neutral, resource-efficient, clean and circular economy, Parliament calls for the eighth EU Environment Action Programme (EAP) to be aligned with the European Green Deal on climate, biodiversity and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). MEPs stress, that the EAP must be an ambitious high-level strategic tool to guide the EU’s environmental policy until 2030 and highlight the need to monitor and evaluate progress of the EU and member states towards the achievement of the priority objectives.
Priority objectives of the eighth EAP
MEPs support the six thematic priority objectives proposed by the Commission. These objectives are: • • • • • •
climate change mitigation; adapting to climate change; protecting and restoring terrestrial and marine biodiversity; a nontoxic circular economy; the zero pollution environment; minimising pressure on the environment caused by production and consumption across all sectors.
Parliament says the objectives should be achieved by 2030 and wants the Commission to present indicators to monitor and track the progress by 31 December 2021. Member states should integrate the SDGs as well as climate, environmental and social objectives in their national plans under the European Semester of economic governance, including in the National Recovery and Resilience Plans. MEPs say that direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies should be phased out at all levels by 2025 and that other environmentally harmful subsidies should be phased out by 2027. The Commission must assess which subsidies are harmful by December 2022.
The rapporteur Grace O’Sullivan (Greens, IRL) said: “As we find ourselves at the beginning of a crucial decade in tackling the ecological crisis impacting our lands and seas, this eighth EAP responds to fundamental challenges facing our people and planet with an ambitious framework that recognises the need for systemic change. By moving towards a well-being economy, we can ensure a just transition as we strive to reach our overarching goal to live well, within the planetary boundaries. I am confident that the eighth EAP, strengthened by robust monitoring mechanisms that hold decision-makers to account, can play a meaningful role from here until 2030.”
Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with member states.
The EU Environment Action Programme has shaped the EU’s environment policy since the early 1970s. The seventh EAP expired at the end of 2020. The new and eight EAP shall be in place until 31 December 2030. MBR Courtesy: European Parliament 38
EU: HUMAN RIGHTS BREACHES
Malta Business Review
HUMAN RIGHTS BREACHES IN HONG KONG, SAUDI ARABIA AND IRAN The European Parliament has adopted three resolutions on the human rights situation in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
ong Kong, notably the case of Apple Daily
Parliament condemns in the strongest terms the recent forced closure of the Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong, the continued freezing of its assets and the arrests of its journalists. This is yet another step by Chinese authorities to dismantle free society in Hong Kong and abolish media freedom and freedom of expression there, MEPs say. The resolution also calls on the Hong Kong authorities to stop harassing and intimidating journalists, release arbitrarily detained prisoners, and denounces any attempts to muzzle pro-democracy activists and their activities. While urging the Chinese authorities to repeal the draconian national security law introduced last year, MEPs encourage EU countries to impose sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for serious violations of human rights and international law in Hong Kong under the EU human rights sanctions regime. They also call on the Commission, the Council and EU countries to decline invitations to government representatives and diplomats to attend the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics unless the Chinese Government demonstrates a verifiable improvement in the human rights situation in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang Uyghur Region, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and elsewhere in China.
The death penalty in Saudi Arabia, notably the cases of Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish and Abdullah al-Howaiti
MEPs strongly condemn Saudi Arabia’s ongoing executions of child offenders despite its claims that it has abolished such practices. This includes the recent execution of Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish for crimes that may have occurred while he was a minor following his conviction in an unfair trial and involving a confession obtained from him under torture. Members also call on Saudi Arabia to confirm that all other child offenders in the Kingdom, such as death-row inmate Abdullah al-Howaiti, will not be executed and that ‘confessions’ extracted under torture will be excluded from their cases.
While urging the country’s authorities to genuinely abolish the death penalty for these offenders, the resolution strongly supports EU sanctions against Saudi officials responsible for grave human rights violations. All EU exports of mass surveillance technology and other dual-use items to Saudi Arabia should be suspended, say MEPs. The resolution also recalls that the Saudi Sakharov Prize laureate Raif Badawi has now been in prison for nine years and urges the EU and the international community to work towards his immediate release.
The case of Dr Ahmadreza Djalali in Iran
Parliament calls on Iran, under its newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi, to halt the imminent execution of Swedish-Iranian academic Dr Ahmadreza Djalali. He must be pardoned, released immediately and unconditionally, and be allowed to return to his family in Sweden, says the text. The resolution also calls on Iran to stop threatening Dr Djalali’s family in both Sweden and Iran. The charges of other arbitrarily detained EU nationals in the country must also be immediately dropped, MEPs demand. This includes German nationals Nahid Taghavi and Jamshid Sharmahd, French nationals Benjamin Brière and Fariba Adelkhah, Austrian nationals Kamran Ghaderi and Massud Mossaheb, in addition to UK nationals Morad Tahbaz, Anoosheh Ashoori, Mehran Raoof and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. The Council should consider more targeted EU sanctions against Iranian regime officials and entities involved in the arbitrary detention and sentencing to death of EU nationals, MEPs urge. The text calls on Iran to release its political prisoners, including human rights defenders, as they have been arbitrarily detained solely for exercising their fundamental rights to the freedoms of expression, belief, association, publication, peaceful assembly and media freedom. MBR Courtesy: European Parliament 39
Malta Business Review
Sponsoring EURO 2020 is the Inevitable Choice of Hisense's Globalization Strategy
s the first major tournament after the pandemic, EURO 2020 has attracted great excitement. As the Official Sponsor, Hisense appeared together with subsidiary brands. "If the sponsorship of EURO 2016 is the preliminary global presence, EURO 2020 must be the commencement of Hisense's various brands and products globalization," said Jia Shaoqian, President of Hisense Group Holdings Co., Ltd.
Quality controls: By building R&D bases globally, it enables localized production to ensure product quality.
Sports marketing has become Hisense's strategic choice, and the key to elevating worldwide recognition, improving top-tier product recognition and driving sales. This ultimately fulfils the "overseas market contributes to the majority of Hisense revenue" strategic goal. Through sports marketing and continuous strengthening of the globally integrated marketing capabilities, Hisense consolidates the global presence and recognition.
Supply chain competence: By establishing global supply chain management centre, offshore bases and partner with local merchandising platforms, Hisense enhances the guarantee of cross-border transportation orders and on-time distribution rates of e-orders, ensuring consumers experience adequately.
Integrated system: Hisense utilizes global resources in R&D, manufacturing and sales to assure products' qualification and meeting consumers' needs.
The utilization of talents: Hisense believes that the foundation of technological innovation is the concentration and development of talents. Hisense has employed many advanced global talents in chip design, A.I and other areas to enhance technology and quality.
Globalization strategy is a necessary choice
Having a formidable integrated market competence and a highly recognized market reputation are severe requirements to become a top sponsor. Hisense's sponsorship revealed brand capacity and excellent reputation gained by sports marketing. Hisense has built 16 R&D centres and 17 production bases, established 54 companies and offices worldwide, keeps expanding global sales and industrial layout since the initial phase of globalization strategy. Furthermore, through charity and sports marketing, it drives visibility for Hisense and achieves universal trust and esteem globally. By 2020, Hisense's owned brand revenue accounts for 78% of international marketing revenue. "After 30 years, Hisense is a successful multinational enterprise and a reputable international brand," said Jia Shaoqian. "To become a globalization enterprise, comprehensive internationalization of product development, manufacturing, branding and marketing are key tactics." As Hisense Chairman Zhou Houjian persists, strengthening the international marketing system, establishing a self-owned brand is Hisense's unswerving development path.
Worldwide integrated marketing capability to accelerate globalization
"Having a comprehensive global marketing system and meticulous operational plans is the path to successfully driving enterprise globalization. The globalization of Hisense has been expedited through the accumulation of experience and efforts in five aspects," said Zhu Dan, President of Hisense International Co., Ltd. •
Hisense launched a range of marketing campaigns in Europe to maximize the sponsorship benefit: showcasing Hisense's exclusive brand exposure at Festival Towers in Europe; launched "Trophy Tour"; driving traffic through
Twitter giveaway campaigns and increased e-commerce sales. Through variety of campaigns, brand's influence was successfully increased.
Sports marketing aided product sales
Continuous dedication in sports marketing successfully boosts enterprise presence but also leads to better sales. In comparison with EURO 2016, Hisense focuses more on product sales and marketing in EURO 2020. Benefiting from the sponsorship, from January to June 2021, Hisense's laser TVs overseas sales rose by more than 10 times YOY. "Large screen, Ultra-HD, Perfect quality and World-class sound" are Laser TV's remarkable features and reasons of choice. Pang Jing, general manager of Hisense's international marketing department, said, "Benefiting from the sponsorship experience in EURO 2016 and FIFA World Cup 2018, Hisense is more proficient and efficient in EURO 2020. By establishing more overseas corporates and comprehensive supply chain system, the capabilities of gathering global resources enable Hisense to achieve success in EURO 2020 marketing campaigns. Focusing on increasing product sales and brand reputation has become Hisense's marketing goal in EURO 2020. Moving forward, Hisense will continue its efforts in sports marketing." Hisense is committed to sports marketing, insisting on longterm investment and globalization strategy. From sponsoring EURO 2020, FIFA World Cup to other sports events, through comprehensive capabilities and innovative products, it enables Hisense to maintain competitive advantage within the global market. MBR SOURCE Hisense
BLOCKCHAIN & CRYPTOCURRENCIES MEDIA GRANTS
Malta Business Review
MEDIA GRANTS RELATED TO THE CONFERENCE FOR THE FUTURE OF EUROPE The European Parliament has issued a call for proposals for grants for media actions in support of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
he Conference on the Future of Europe (CFOE) is a citizenled series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across the European Union to share their ideas and help shape our common future. The Conference is taking place online and offline with a digital platform and a mix of virtual, hybrid, and in person events in different Member States and the European Parliament. Inaugurated on 9 May 2021 by the EU Parliament, Council, and Commission, this democratic exercise is the first of its kind as a major pan-European public forum for an open, inclusive, and transparent debate around a number of key priorities and challenges. The intention is to consult as many people as possible, with a special focus on young people. In support, the European Parliament is launching: • •
a call for proposals to select media projects that will contribute to fulfil the objectives of the CFOE. This call is looking to cofinance media actions by news agencies and digital media; Digital media includes both digital-only media and digital platforms of media operating also in non-digital markets;
Applicants to this call are invited to explore the Conference online platform and the Conference Charter, in order to submit a detailed description of their proposed action that provides information on the CFOE and includes the online and off line events that they would organise under the umbrella of the Conference if they are selected among the grants beneficiaries of this call; Proposals are expected to request a contribution from the European Parliament between 30,000 and 100,000 euros; Media actions should start on 1 November 2021. The Conference is expected to reach conclusions by the Spring of 2022. Grant beneficiaries will have editorial freedom.
This call for tenders - COMM/SUBV/2021/M-COFOE - is published here: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/contracts-and-grants/en/ grants/media-and-events For further information contact: dgcomm-subvention@europarl. europa.eu or firstname.lastname@example.org. The application deadline is 1 September 2021.
Courtesy: European Parliament
Malta Business Review
SINGLE RESOLUTION FUND
he Single Resolution Board (SRB) announced the amount of contributions made by banks to the Single Resolution Fund (SRF) for 2021. All banks in the Banking Union and some investment firms are required by law to pay annual levies into an emergency fund - the SRF - that can be called on should a bank get into trouble and specific criteria are met. For this year, banks paid €10.4 billion into the SRF.
SINGLE RESOLUTION FUND GROWS BY €10.4 BILLION TO REACH €52 BILLION
The target size of the SRF is set at 1% of covered deposits by end 2023. The Fund will end up at above €70 billion, taking into account the current annual growth in covered deposits. The SRF can be used to support the effective resolution of a failing bank, if needed. The SRF is just one of the tools of the financial stability structure that was put in place in the wake of the 2008/2009 banking crisis. It is being built up over eight years until 2023, and from next year, the Fund will see its effective capacity doubled when the public Backstop to the SRF is introduced. “We continue to build-up the SRF, which is important in terms of giving confidence to the market in times of crisis. The backstop will double the firepower of the SRF, meaning that from next year, the EU will have an emergency fund worth over €100 billion. This will go a considerable way to ensuring public money does not have be used to bail-out private investors,” said Elke König, Chair of the SRB. The SRF is made up of contributions from over 3,000 credit institutions and investment firms in the EU’s 21 Banking Union countries. These contributions are calculated according to EU law and collected via the national resolution authorities, with the money then being transferred to the SRF, which is managed by the SRB. Year by year collected funds in national compartments of the SRF are further mutualised, in the third quarter of 2021 already 85% of the funds are mutualised.
About the SRF
The Single Resolution Fund (SRF) is an emergency fund that can be called upon in times of crisis. It can be used to ensure the efficient application of resolution tools for resolving the failing banks, after other options, such as the bail-in tool, have been exhausted. The SRF ensures that the financial industry as a whole ensures the stabilisation of the financial system. All banks across the 21 Banking Union countries must pay a fee annually by law to the SRF. These fees are called contributions. The fund means that taxpayers are not first in line to pump money into a bank, should extra funding be required, since EU law requires all banks to pay into the fund annually. Find out more about the SRF here. MBR Source: Single Resolution Board
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