The ideal MEP is a bridge-builder, a nerd and a good communicator

Look for a bridge-builder, a nerdy eye for detail and technicalities, and good communicators when choosing an MEP (disclaimer: I am a candidate myself)

The race is on and the future does not look plain sailing enough for us.

The horizon promises battleships heading for our shores. The European socialists’ proposal for a Europe-wide tax stunting our services industry is just one of those battleships. The European Commission has a stock of other proposals coming up with a direct effect on our islands’ competitiveness and growth prospects, not to mention the dire need to budge the Union into a real solidarity with frontier state like Malta on irregular migration.

Our choice on 25 May will have a bearing on our youths, we could expand their horizons through educational programmes whereby the EP is preparing a threefold budget increase. Our participation rate is 5% right now – we should at least treble that. Our choice should help many struggling sectors facing the full brunt of the single market, with very little of its protection to those who feed us, the farmers, herders and fishermen. Our choice on 25 May should get us closer to exploit the EU manna for our businesses and society at large. We can do much better on EU funding opportunities.

Our citizens are well aware of what our political parties say. Political sermons get a lot of attention in Malta and we are not short of controversies dominating the headlines.

I want to share a few tips on choosing the best six MEPs to represent us in Europe, with a focus on the skills required to move things in Brussels.

A big caveat first. I am a candidate myself, so I might be leading you towards my shop. A second one however, I am a European official with direct negotiation experience in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, so I sort of have an obligation to communicate the EU machinery as well.

Probably the first quality that sets the best MEPs apart is their ability to build bridges within their own political group and with other political groups. The Nationalist Party MEPs sit within a group composed of more than 40 national parties. Bridging interests between them is already a huge challenge. The EPP alone does not command a majority of MEPs in none of the committees where amendments are submitted to change EU laws, so we need to bridge over to other MEPs from other political families. You want an MEP to change things for Malta through Brussels? Look for a bridge-builder!

The second quality is a nerdy eye for detail and technicalities. Coming from Malta our MEPs cannot expect that industry or NGOs pick up developments before it’s too late. It will be up to our six to detect new developments and intervene in good time before all negotiations are crystallised. We need MEPs who can smell one year ahead that the Commission is working on something with impact for Maltese work or business. You want an MEP who can advance your career prospects? Look out for the nerd in the lot!

Last but not least, our MEPs need to be good communicators. This goes beyond their chance of re-election. What happened in the UK is a communication tragedy. The British people owe a huge deal to EU membership. It allowed them to keep their feeling of ruling the world after losing the empire. They ruled the game in many ways in Brussels and yet, they voted to leave for they were led there through daily misunderstandings spun over by the media.

Let’s be clear. Malta is not immune from this phenomenon. Our MEPs have a duty to communicate the whole truth on EU, and where there is a rosy bit to pass on, they should make sure to pass it on as well. So if we want to keep on enjoying our EU benefits, let’s make sure to choose those who can best change things in Brussels and then be able to transmit them to us here in Malta.

I think I might have some of the qualities mentioned above. That’s why I accepted the call of the Nationalist Party to run for MEP. In all fairness, I see these qualities in a good number of my colleagues too, from different parties. We at PN probably have the advantage of not having to defend the indefensible actions of a government in direct confrontation with some of the EU’s main values. The scrutiny is now in your good hands!

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