Peter Agius tells Commission to widen Maltese beneficiaries of EU’s youth programmes

Only 40 Maltese youths are selected for the DiscoverEU programme, an Erasmus+ action that gives applicants the chance to travel across Europe

Nationalist candidate for Europe Peter Agius has penned an open letter to European Commissioner for Youth, Iliana Ivanova, calling for a revision of the criteria used to determine the number of young people participating in the DiscoverEU programme.

The adjustment aims to enable more young Maltese individuals to take part in educational programmes and enjoy free travel throughout Europe.

“There is a pressing need to widen European opportunities for Maltese and Gozitans youths. Over recent years, I have assisted numerous Maltese youths in accessing the various experiences offered by the European Union, just as I did when I was young. I am committed to increase European opportunities for youths and students if elected to the European Parliament,” Agius said.

The European Commission currently selects a fixed number of young people for each country based on population size. But Agius said he disagrees with this approach. “The treaties of the European Union outline the principle of digressive proportionality, allowing small states like Malta to have six MEPs to ensure a minimum level of representation.

“I believe that even within programmes like Erasmus+, which includes actions such as DiscoverEU, we must guarantee a minimum level of opportunities for Malta beyond our country’s population. It’s unacceptable that only 40 young people from Malta are selected for the DiscoverEU programme. We need to address the lack of opportunities for young people, as highlighted in numerous surveys conducted among Maltese and Gozitan youth.”

DiscoverEU, an action of the Erasmus+ program, offers young people aged 18 the chance to travel across Europe and immerse themselves in different cultures and the essence of Europe. Eligible applicants include students in sixth form, universities, MCAST, as well as those on voluntary or gap year. In the last two application cycles, 366 young people from Malta applied in October and 272 in March. However, in both instances, only around 40 applicants were selected. With the mechanism proposed by Peter Agius, opportunities for Maltese and Gozitan youth would increase to 300 in each call, allowing more applicants to benefit from these enriching experiences.

“I believe that EU youth programmes should consider the challenges of insularity and provide additional support for individuals from island states, including the Maltese population, to access European opportunities more readily. This aligns with EU treaties, which emphasize the need for special policies to support island regions,” Agius said.

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