Miriam Dalli | What 'together' should be all about

Defending the national interest has become a core theme of this electoral campaign, the reason being very simple: our country deserves MEPs who put the country’s interest before any other partisan interest

There are 27 days to go for the European Parliament elections on the 25th of May. 27 days during which the political parties and the 41 candidates, including myself, will continue to reach out to explain what to expect from us if elected.

During my campaign launch, I outlined my vision for the next legislative term: taking Malta to the next level. As far as I am concerned, this is not a tag line but it means a number of things: a sustainable economy, environmental protection, better standards, work-life balance, social policies and, crucially, a representation in the European Parliament that defends the national interest.

Defending the national interest has become a core theme of this electoral campaign, the reason being very simple: our country deserves MEPs who put the country’s interest before any other partisan interest. And whilst candidates from all sides speak about this priority, it is action that matters.

Throughout these five years, the attitude of the Nationalist Party in the European Parliament was far from conducive to the national interest. It lobbied against nominations presented by the Maltese government and sought to tarnish Malta’s reputation at every opportunity.

Now that the electoral campaign is in full swing, the Nationalist Party has put up billboards and banners across the island, pushing the message ‘Flimkien għal pajjiżna’ (together for our country). I must admit, when I first saw this slogan I couldn’t believe my eyes: this is the same Nationalist Party that stood shoulder to shoulder with MEPs who want to invoke Article 7 against Malta, which would mean stripping off Malta its voting rights and blocking access to EU funds. Now, they try to make us believe that they will stand for Malta.

The same Nationalist Party whose MEPs participated actively in missions taking stands against Malta, so much so that it was selective in whom to meet and a subsequent draft resolution that was drafted was riddled with personal, subjective comments, statements taken out of context and quotations from the Venice Commission report which did not even respect what the Venice Commission said.

They went as far as describing the Egrant inquiry as “inconclusive” and expressed “concern” over “the Commission’s decision not to activate its Rule of Law Framework”. As a member of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, I worked and pushed our colleagues from the Socialists and Democrats so that this wording is not part of the final resolution that was voted upon. It was the Labour Party delegation in the European Parliament that always defended this country’s national interest, irrespective who was in government.

Standing up in the European Parliament and making grand speeches which lack any concrete positions may sound like good PR, but completely ignores the negative effects and repercussions it can have on our economy – our workers, our livelihoods. Governments come and go, but our families are here to stay. Although I don’t believe that the size of a country should be an obstacle, it is a fact that we have our limitations in terms of resources. If jobs are endangered because of irresponsible political rhetoric, of MEPs who want to score partisan points, it is only our workers who will suffer.

So yes, I stood in disbelief when I saw the PN’s newly unveiled banner advertising “togetherness” because “togetherness” does not mean rushing off to the European Parliament as if it were the big brother. “Togetherness” means putting your country’s interest before anything else. “Togetherness” means not seeking every opportunity to bash your country. “Togetherness” means acting like other delegations that come together – even if from multiple opposing political parties – to stand up for their country when there is the slightest of hints that a resolution or a report might name it.

25th May is ‘judgement day’ for us MEPs. It is the day where the electorate will be asked to elect those candidates they deem best to represent them. I urge the electorate to judge our work and actions in the past five years in the European Parliament. Malta is one of the smallest delegations in the European Parliament, but we can still make a difference as our work can testify for us, more so if we truly act “together”. My appeal is for you to choose the six seats wisely.