Online discussion with Minister Carmelo Abela

‘Fejn Sejrin?’ (Where are we going?) online discussion tied to the 16th anniversary of Malta’s EU accession, Europe Day and MEUSAC, with Minister Carmelo Abela

The discussion was led by MEUSAC Head Mandy Falzon and was streamed live on Facebook. In her opening remarks, Ms Falzon said that 70 years ago, Robert Schuman emerged with the idea of a united Europe, and that in his own words should not be built at once, or according to a single plan, but built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.

She added that this dream was translated to what Europe is today, where Member States had many opportunities to put into practice solidarity in various ways. In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the EU is once again expected to act in solidarity, especially at a time when the word solidarity echoes throughout the world.

During the discussion, various representatives of civil society participated, including Fabian Demicoli (Malta Chamber of SMEs); Kendrick Bondin (General Workers Union), Jesmond Bonello (UHM – Voice of the Workers), Daniel Borg (Gozo Business Chamber), Gertrude Buttigieg (Malta Health Network), Faith Spearing (student) and Stephanie Fenech – Żejtun Local Council.

Minister Abela said that after 70 years since Schuman’s dream for a Europe that instills peace, we can say that this indeed happened. Along the years, the European project started to develop, the foundations of which are the economy, the Single Market, and freedom of movement of people from one country to another.

He added that it is vital we keep listening to the people in a bid to see that it is the people who are the ones choosing politicians not bureaucrats who take decisions for the people who choose them.

The discussion evolved around various themes, and based on the EU’s successes and failures, that are measured according to the impact of such actions on people’s lives.

The economic situation before and during Covid-19, how sectors represented by participants of the debate were impacted, and how MEUSAC can strengthen its work so that every corner of society benefits more from Malta’s EU membership, were some of the themes discussed.

Reacting to comments made by Ms Falzon and other speakers, Minister Abela said that the pandemic showed that it has no borders and therefore is an opportunity for Member States to up their game in the economic, job and health sectors.

Towards the end of the discussion, Ms Falzon highlighted the fact that MEUSAC assisted some 470 organisations to benefit from 60 million euros in EU funds since MEUSAC’s inception.

On their part, civil society representatives lauded MEUSAC’s work, be it funding-related support or on the EU-related information provided.

Minister Abela said that MEUSAC should continue to strengthen its services so that more organisations turn to MEUSAC for assistance to tap into EU funding opportunities. He added that MEUSAC needs to continue to serve as the go-between of the EU and citizens.

A common theme participants agreed to is that the human being, whether he or she is an employee or employer, or a student, should always be at the centre of decisions, which strengthens unity at all levels, as without this, we cannot go forward.

On the future of the EU, participants said that the EU should listen to the people more, strengthen dialogue with civil society and change the way it works so that people understand it better. In this regard, the ideas of youth should be heard more on the EU’s future, in an ever-increasing technological world.

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