Hands-on in Brussels

The Maltese electorate will have a choice to make this May

Cyrus Engerer is a PL candidate for the European elections

For five years I was Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s voice in Brussels. I witnessed and participated in the preparations and the hosting of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union and headed the Presidency’s relations with the European Parliament. The task required an all-hands-on-deck approach.

The government had to be fully committed to the Presidency. Otherwise it would not have been possible for it to be a successful endeavour. A junior Minister, Ian Borg, was politically responsible for it. Dar Malta, our Permanent Representation to the EU was beefed up. All ministries made their internal arrangements and preparations which included dedicating several policy experts to help the officials in Dar Malta, with most of them commuting between Brussels and Malta. There was a national effort behind the huge success of the Maltese Presidency.

Nevertheless, against this background of unity, zeal and dedication, the PN Opposition led by Simon Busuttil took to task the ruining of our reputation. It put all its efforts in tarnishing the image of Malta in the EU. Possibly, Simon and his clique chose this approach due to the lack of traction in the gaining of support among the Maltese electorate. Or, it could have simply been the blindness of political bias that stopped him from understanding the national importance of this feat on the European stage. In any case, what I will try to highlight in these few words is the juxtaposition of these two realities that I witnessed; the huge personal and coordinated effort by hundreds of people working for the country with pride, independently of their political beliefs, and the reprehensible actions of the few people who tried to damage our name abroad.  

For the six months of the Presidency our officials in Brussels worked tirelessly to prepare and chair meetings within the Council of the EU and to negotiate with the European Parliament on behalf of the 28 Member States. Our ministers met with all the Members of Parliament and held numerous Council of Ministers meetings. The effort did not go unrewarded as our Presidency ended up being one of the most successful in years.

It was a success, despite the effort put by the PN to damage Malta. Eventually this culminated in the Egrant lie which led to the early election in 2017. However, this was only the culmination of these efforts. For months Roberta Metsola and David Casa concocted and whispered in the corridors of the European Parliament. I witnessed them working tirelessly to harm Dr Toni Abela at his grilling following his nomination to the European Court of Auditors. I saw them working hard trying to paint a picture of Malta which is far from reality; depicting us as a nation without the rule of law; a place almost to be feared. A black spot of sorts in the EU.

In my conversations with the many MEPs I have met, I have earnestly argued the contrary and defended the image of my country. I have encouraged MEPs to get in touch with people from their own country who have chosen Malta as their country of residence, who have come to our nation to partake in the economic success we are going through. I have encouraged these MEPs to ask their fellow compatriots, whether they feel safe in Malta, whether the rule of law exists. Following the last five years, it is clear to me that the Maltese electorate will have a choice to make this May. The Maltese electorate will have to choose between representatives who will work for and represent their interests and those who will endeavour to harm the economic success of our nation and the quality of life of each and every one of us.

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