Josianne Cutajar | A Union to be proud of

Next Saturday’s vote is a unique opportunity to radically shift European policy back towards us, the citizens

When it comes to the state of the European Union, there’s no beating around the bush: our club has seen better days. Between the United Kingdom’s messy divorce, the rise of the far right, and a general sense of disappointment with the workings of the EU, it’s no wonder so many of us are concerned about its future.

Thankfully, this is in stark contrast to our local context. Over the past six years, Malta and Gozo have seen unprecedented economic and social growth, and our families – all our families – are reaping the rewards.

This government’s policies have created a new middle-class, by boosting our local enterprises, implementing family-friendly measures, eliminating unemployment, and most importantly, supporting the vulnerable in our society. The prosperity generated is being shared by everyone.

We’ve also completely changed the fabric of our society. Where before there was fear and bigotry, today our country tops the international charts of inclusivity and diversity. All families are given the respect and support they deserve, because who you love does not matter to anyone else but you.

We – the voters – brought about this change. The pride we feel towards our country is deserved because we were the catalysts who shaped today’s Malta and Gozo.

Now is the time to do the same for the EU.

Choosing six representatives for the European Parliament may feel like a minor, or insignificant, decision to make, but as our current MEPs have shown, a determined voice can be a game changer in Parliament that can equally promote, or vilify, our country in the EU.

Now is the time to decide which way we want our representation to go.

An MEP should, primarily, promote her country, not disparage it. Our new MEPs have their work cut out for them in this regard, because their first priority will have to be repairing the reputation tarnished by Nationalist MEPs. As I have done throughout my campaign, I pledge to keep defending our national interests above all else.

Our right to have the final say on taxation matters remains crucial and needs to be protected. We need MEPs who will defend this through and through, not just when it is convenient. This can only happen if our representatives leave blue or red at home, where they belong.

Just like our government, our MEPs have the power to shape the future of the EU. As a socialist, as a European citizen, and as an MEP candidate, I want to see the Union giving priority to fighting poverty and inequality, while enhancing education, civil rights and liberties, workers’ rights and environmental protection.

Now more than ever, we need European politicians who know the day-to-day needs of their citizens, and who are in constant contact with those they represent. Tackling issues of social justice will not only make our lives better, but will also reinstate trust in the distant European institutions. It is our MEPs’ duty to make sure that no one feels excluded or downright forgotten by those who regulate in the ivory towers in Brussels.

Next Saturday’s vote is a unique opportunity to radically shift European policy back towards us, the citizens, by choosing representatives who have shown their will to work for us all.

We’re already proud of our country. Let’s make sure we’re proud of the European Union too.

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