It is a legal obligation of the National Book Council (NBC) to annually consult with writers and publishers on its policy. In 2019 the consultative meeting with writers took the form of the National Writers’ Congress at which the Council’s legal policy was approved. As a result two legal drafts have been submitted to the Government: the reform concerning copyright in order to transpose the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, and the legal notice concerning the autonomy of the NBC. In this law we proposed that Congress is recognised legally.
The meeting with the publishers has already taken place whereby it was decided that since we were denied access to Mediterranean Conference Centre’s Republic Hall for the upcoming National Book Festival, the Festival will have to move to a different venue outside of Valletta. Executive preparations for this move already begun.
This decision is being taken with sadly and regretfully, however we have no choice but to keep ensuring that we reach record attendance numbers each year, as we had in 2019. Unfortunately, this is one of a series of bad government decisions take have been taken since 2019. This situation is being legally challenged in various courts and institutions.
The move that the National Book Festival has to make, clearly shows that the Government is not taking decisions that are necessarily beneficial for the book industry. Thus, in order to ensure that the Government has an autonomous body that works securely and transparently for the economic development of the book industry while defending the interests of its stakeholders, I believe that the representatives of the National Book Council should be chosen by the industry stakeholders. This is something I have already stated publicly.
The best way for the NBC to maintain its autonomy is by converting its selection process into a democratic one. As Executive Chairman of the National Book Council, I am therefore convening the National Writers’ Congress on 29 May to formally propose this process to writers.
The Congress will be organised online to ensure the safety and attendance of all participants, including writers living abroad.
Many thanks and regards,
National Book Council