Dual responsibility

Malta's future is intertwined with Europe's, and our 6 MEPs must champion a strong EU that works for all of us.

In a few hours’ time we will know how the European citizens across the 27 EU member states have voted.

Throughout the electoral campaign leading to the vote for the new European Parliament, we heard how important this election was for the future of the EU. While most Europeans see the Union as some distant, abstract organisation out of touch with their reality, the truth is very different and what is decided in Brussels affects us all in one way or another. This could also be said for the European Parliament, as the 720 who will be elected will partake in the EU decisions – in most areas the Parliament acts as a co-legislator with the Council of the EU, which comprises the Member States themselves.

As the dust of the EU election settles, our attention shifts to the EU leaders, the European Commission, and the Council. This trio, with their collective decisions, will chart the course of the EU’s future as the bloc enters a critical juncture.

The game kicks in on 17th June, when EU member state leaders are expected to meet in Brussels to initiate discussions on the famous ‘top jobs’, as they are called. A scheduled European Council will follow this meeting at the end of the month where such decisions are expected to be sealed. The EU Council President, as the head of the body that is responsible for outlining the direction the EU ought to take in the next five years, is expected to outline such agenda in the Strategic Agenda that the leaders will discuss at the end of June. As expected, in a multipolar order that is taking shape, with wars and conflicts on its borders or in its immediate neighbourhood, the EU will continue to focus on managing these crises while recognising the fact that these crises pose a threat to the very existence of the EU, even in terms of potentially exhausting its financial capabilities. The EU will therefore also be looking at streamlining the single market and removing existing barriers that remain. Bolstering the single market, the most precious asset of the EU, is essential, as no entity can succeed in such a turbulent geopolitical environment if the economy is not in good shape.

Therefore, decisions taken by the new MEPs will be crucial to understanding the direction the EU will take: whether it will continue to adhere to its principles of rule of law, civil rights, peace, and prosperity, or whether it will focus on the prosperity part and make a radical shift to the right. How the European electorate has decided will become more apparent as results trickle in from one Member State after the other. Should the electorate decide to shift further right, the role of our MEPs, albeit six, will become even more critical as we strive to retain and safeguard what we have achieved over the years.

Undeniably, reforms in the EU are needed, yet it would be dangerous for the European Parliament to bury its head in the sand and forget the historical and cultural kaleidoscope that makes the EU. Such an approach could spell trouble for the Union. Instead, it is essential to acknowledge that reforms are needed, that the economy needs to be boosted, that the last barriers to the single market must be removed, and that connectivity has to be strengthened. Setting such a course for the EU would enable it to fend off the threats it faces that challenge its existence.

The legacy of European unity, painstakingly built by our predecessors, rests on the shoulders of our MEPs and all those who hold the power to shape our future. We must ensure it is not squandered by political discord. Our elected MEPs have a dual responsibility: to Malta and to Europe as a whole. Malta’s future is intertwined with Europe’s, and those we elect must champion a strong EU that works for all of us.

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