Citizens’ Debate with EC President Jean Claude Juncker, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Commissioner Karmenu Vella

29 March 2017

The European Commission Representation in Malta, MEUSAC and the Strickland Foundation organised a Dialogue on the future of Europe with the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Commissioner Karmenu Vella.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that there’s nothing sweet about what happened, on the contrary it’s something bitter. Dr Muscat was referring to the Brexit two-year process which was kick-started after Article 50 was triggered.

“I think that Europe will surprise many with its degree of unity in the next few weeks and months, and will move forward not stop where we are right now,” he said.

Dr Muscat said that the EU is a fantastic mix of peoples coming from different experiences, this being a strength. “There is a union between European people which cannot be dissolved,” he continued.

On migration, Dr Muscat said: “We are keeping our word on the relocation of refugees, although admittedly the numbers are small.

“Solidarity is not something you ask for when you need it, you have to provide it as well and Malta is doing so,” he added.

Dr Muscat was reacting to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s remarks that we need European solidarity to address the refugee crisis and that Italy, Malta or Greece cannot be left alone. Mr Juncker said that this is about EU values.

Mr Juncker stated: “All EU Member States should show what European solidarity really means when it comes to the refugee crisis.”

Mr Vella meanwhile said that young people see the EU as the solution to their fears. “The future of the EU is the young generation,” he continued.

On the environment sector he represents as EU Commissioner, Mr Vella said that both the environmental and the maritime policies are playing an important role in the future of the EU.

He said that 500,000 premature deaths occur because of bad air quality in Europe and “we want to halve those deaths”. He said that the circular economy is one of the Commission’s priorities since it tackles the economy and environmental aspect.

Dr Muscat also spoke about gender equality. “Our electoral system has failed giving space to women candidates but when it comes to other important institutions such as justice, the presence of women is increasing, a case in point being the judiciary.”

On terrorism, Mr Juncker said: “We are not a protection of terrorism; terrorism will be there for a long time as it was there in the 1970s and 1980s. The solution is the exchange of information and cooperation between the Police and the Secret Services, making it clear that he is as much a great fan of data protection as much as he is of the fight against terrorism.

Concluding, Mr Juncker echoed Dr Muscat’s words that this was a sad day for Europe but he did say that he is feeling fine due to the fact that “we are having a debate on the future of the EU”.

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