[WATCH] Miriam Dalli makes case for 16-year-old voting across the EU

The Labour MEP urges EU member states to extend voting rights to 16-year-olds at a meeting with climate change activits and Nobel peace prize nominee Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg, 16, a Swedish schoolgirl and climate activist addressed the environment committee of the European Parliament
Greta Thunberg, 16, a Swedish schoolgirl and climate activist addressed the environment committee of the European Parliament

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli has urged EU member states to follow Malta’s example and grant 16-year-olds the right to vote.

She made her case during a meeting of the European Parliament’s environment committee with Nobel peace prize nominee Greta Thunberg.

Thunberg is a Swedish 16-year-old schoolgirl whose climate activism inspired an international movement to fight climate change. Her efforts in climate activism sparked strikes across the globe, including in Malta.

Dalli has led the European Parliament’s negotiations on reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, with the final signing of the legislation taking place tomorrow in Strasbourg. Initially, the proposal was met with opposition from different lobbyists and stakeholders.

“As a mother of two, I share your concern about the future of youths and children. Today people inside this room are cheering you on for what you’re saying but when we come to the crunch of it - to the actual legislation - some of these people push for far less ambition,” Dalli said.

During her message to the European Parliament, Thunberg described herself as a 16-year-old without the right to vote. “The EU elections are coming up soon and many of us, who will be affected the most by this crisis, people like me are not allowed to vote [...] You need to listen to us. We who cannot vote. You need to vote for us.”

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli (left)
Labour MEP Miriam Dalli (left)

In reply, Dalli said that the European Parliament needed to push for young people to have a voice in the decisions being taken.

“As a 16-year-old you’re not allowed to vote. But some Member States like Malta and Austria are allowing that and we need to increase the pressure as European Parliament so that more countries give a voice to youths your age,”Dalli said.

The voting age in Malta was lowered to 16 for all elections last year. The forthcoming EP election will be the first time that 16-year-olds will be voting to elect Malta’s MEPs.

Dalli told the young activist that it was determination and perseverance that mattered. “You say you’re just a 16-year-old schoolgirl. I come from the smallest island state and it is not age that matters, or the size of your country, but the determination to push for change to happen. Your determination is leaving an impact on other students and older generations alike.”

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