Busuttil warns populism is no solution to Europe’s woes

PN leader Simon Busuttil welcomes 1,500 delegates participating in European People’s Party congress, says populism threatens EU’s achievements in 60 years

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan
29 March 2017, 1:33pm
The press conference was addressed by PN leader Simon Busuttil, together with EPP President Joseph Daul and EPP Secretary General Antonio López-Istúriz. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
The press conference was addressed by PN leader Simon Busuttil, together with EPP President Joseph Daul and EPP Secretary General Antonio López-Istúriz. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
The spectre of populism is threatening freedom and democracy in Europe, PN leader Simon Busuttil warned as he welcomed popular and conservative leaders and delegates who are in Malta for the European People’s Party congress.

Addressing a press conference in St Julian’s, Busuttil underlined the dangers posed by populism as mainstream parties across the continent are losing ground to populist parties such as Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France, the Five Star Movement and the Northern League in Italy and the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The EPP itself includes the populist and authoritarian Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party.

“Populist leaders speak about problems but never about solutions: they never offer solutions. But we do not only speak about problems but also offer solutions,” Busuttil said.

He said that populists claim to speak on behalf of the people, however they do not provide solutions to the people. In this context, Busuttil said that he’s proud to be part of the EPP because it is the only party which can provide both the vision and leadership.

Busuttil said that if populism takes over this will threaten the existence of Europe as we know it where freedom and democracy are at the heart of the EU’s achievements in the last 60 years.

Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
However, he warned that the EU must be closer to the people and understand the concerns of Europeans.

On Brexit, Busuttil said “I believe that this letter will imply significant changes which require significant reflection, not just on the path of the European Union, but even on the part of the UK itself. Brexit is the result of something very clear for us to see: it is the result of populism. Populism is not limited to the UK. Unless we tackle populism head on, then we will fail and the EU will fail. This is something we should and can avoid.”

Thanking the political grouping for congregating in Malta, Busuttil said that with its presence, “the EPP is supporting my efforts and the efforts of Partit Nazzjonalista, and for that I am deeply grateful,” while promising his firm commitment to deliver another EPP government within the EU in the months ahead.

The press conference was also addressed by EPP president Joseph Daul and secretary-general Lopez Isturiz with the former underlining the historic significance of Brexit which was triggered on Wednesday.

Daul said Britain’s divorce from the EU will take some two years to be negotiated and reassured that the EPP will safeguard the rights of the three million Europeans who work in the UK. He also said the EPP will ensure that the UK pays all its dues before exiting the bloc.

Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
In a gibe directed at Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Isturiz said the EPP delegates, which include 12 Heads of State, nine European Commissioners and the presidents of the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament, were not in Malta to pose for photos with Muscat but to shape policies addressing corruption, security and social policy concerns across Europe.  

 

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...