A united Europe led by shared social values

We need an end to empire-building in Brussels. Talk of federalism and dreams of a United States of Europe are futile when election results in many Member States are pointing in the opposite direction

In recent years we have witnessed fast moving and unpredictable events in international affairs – from the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East to the tragic famine declared in the Horn of Africa, escalations and de-escalations in North Korea nuclear testing, the Trump presidency in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK.

These all demonstrate the volatile nature of global events, highlighting the difficulties of predicting future prescriptions for the international landscape, and the importance of the European Union as a force of strength and stability in an uncertain world. The global economic crisis vividly demonstrated the interconnected nature of the world, where decisions taken in one country can have a huge impact on the lives of people in others. During a changing international landscape, it is right that we set out a vision of what Malta’s place in Europe should be.

Malta’s future is at the heart of Europe – using our internationalist principles, leading voice and strong alliances to secure the best outcome for the Maltese people, and to help Europe play a progressive role globally. However our approach must not be to defend the status quo within Europe – we need to continue to develop Malta’s leadership role to help ensure that the European Union is a multilateral body which is fit for the 21st century and that supports the creation of a wider global system which promotes sustainable development.

As we celebrate Europe Day and the socalled Schuman Declaration which led to the Creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, the European project is being put to the test, and we need to continue addressing the huge disconnection between the institutions and ordinary citizens.

In Malta I am determined we should increase dialogue with social partners, civil society organisations and the public to develop credible and relevant European policy by being relevant, trusted and responsive. The White paper presented by the European Commission in March sets out possible paths for the future of Europe. The Commission acknowledges the challenges we face, from globalisation to the impact of new disruptive technologies on communities and jobs, to migration, security and the rise of Eurosceptic populist parties. It also addresses the big elephant in the room that is whether Member States and their citizens are ready for further integration. I am for a strong, united EU, which respects the sovereignty of its member states.

An EU with fewer romantic ideals, less nostalgic about the past, and more focused on improving the lives of all its citizens. We need an end to empire-building in Brussels. Talk of federalism and dreams of a United States of Europe are futile when election results in many Member States are pointing in the opposite direction. Citizens  across our continent, from all walks of life, feel remote and distant from the Eurocrats obsessing with endless structural reform. As the EU’s fastest growing economy, Malta should use its influence to help build a vision that goes beyond the day-to-day imperatives of managing multi-national relations, endless debates about institutions, and other crises as they arrive.

We must forge alliances based on our values, protect our interests and advance our ideas by leading efforts on building a strong, fair and sustainable economy, promoting security, and protecting the future of our planet. The EU’s greatest strength is its shared social values. To this end we must work to protect and promote cohesion policy and the European social model based on the economic dynamism we require while helping to build equality and opportunity for all. There is renewed optimism and confidence in Europe’s economy backed by the creation of new jobs and positive economic data.

Malta must lead in charting a new way forward, ensuring a growth strategy which boosts living standards, recognises the importance of public investment and provides stability and security. Now is the time for the European Union to address its challenges, for Malta to assert leadership and set out a bold vision for future generations, moving forward in the spirit of collaboration and unity to ensure that no member states are sidelined or left behind.

Aaron Farrugia is Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds and social dialogue


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