Social cohesion is paramount

The uplifting mood of the festive season stimulates us to be more compassionate with others, not least by donating to those in need

At this time of the year politics is put on the backburner as we make space for more joyous events with our nearest and dearest. It is also a time for reflection about the past year’s achievements and shortcomings.

Undoubtedly, my most notable achievement was the coming to fruition of the work I did in previous years about the common charger for digital devices and this year Apple launched the iPhone 15 with a USB-C standard charging port in line with the new rules.

Perhaps less notable but equally important, was the adoption of the new roaming agreement which I had negotiated last year. We shall enjoy another 10 years in which we may roam like at home wherever we are within the European Union.

The year started satisfactorily for the most vulnerable in society. Following my pressure, the European Commission adopted legislation which ensures we will no longer suffer from scarcity in the supply of medicines in the future. Amendments I proposed to the European Social Budget led to an increase in the funds available to assist vulnerable individuals who end up unemployed whilst a report I negotiated on rights of persons with autism received near unanimous approval in the European Parliament. I look forward to the transposition of this report into a directive.

Digital rights were once again in focus this year. In February, I led the adoption of the S&D’s position paper on the digital transition. I have also actively pushed for the vote on the AI Act and negotiated a report approved by parliament about the introduction of measures to prevent children from becoming addicted to staying online. Another initiative ensured that online purchases become more secure.

The conclusion of the work on the European Act on Media Protection by the IMCO committee resulted in the adoption of significant measures whilst my work on the Industrial Emissions Directive brought about revisions which will reduce its impact on local farmers. On a domestic level, I am satisfied that the European Ombudsman accepted my petition that individuals selected to serve on behalf of the Commission in Malta must be able to speak the Maltese language. I am also proud of my initiative to use funding allocated for resources to distribute trees to embellish various villages around Malta instead of buying stationery and other insignificant items.

The work done during the last year will also lay the foundation for more achievements next year. My appointment as a lead negotiator in the Travel Package Directive will allow me to ensure that this directive will not negatively impact Maltese travellers and businesses, who are reliant on air travel for their connectivity overseas.

Work on the adoption of an EU law to govern the mechanism which sets the minimum wage is ongoing and will hopefully be concluded in the near future. An alliance of MEPs which I aided to setup this year will work for the better regulation of psychedelic medicine to achieve the full potential of these unique drugs. I will also follow up on this year’s petition to the European Commission to promote the rights of fire fighters, and the need to ensure that civil protection services are appropriately staffed.

Last but not least, I took various initiatives to combat factors which lead to unfair increases in prices in Malta, particularly food prices. I am not satisfied with what I have achieved as yet throughout the last year, and I promise that my work will continue unabatedly in the coming year. I shall focus even more on those areas which are most relevant to the Maltese consumers, especially the most vulnerable in society.

The uplifting mood of the festive season stimulates us to be more compassionate with others, not least by donating to those in need. These noble acts undoubtedly increase social cohesion, yet cohesion at all layers of society is important throughout the year, not just at Christmas. Unfortunately, vociferous speakers from right leaning parties are increasingly resorting to sensational and baseless claims especially about crime and migration. Sensationalism favours hatred and fear - not social cohesion.