Five years of hard work and achievements

Nearing the end of their tenure, Malta's MEPs have been discussing their work with the public during events organised by the European Parliament's Liaison Office in Valletta.

As the current term of the European Parliament appoaches its end, the EP’s Liaison Office in Malta has been organising at Europe House in Valletta a series of discussions aimed at informing and engaging the public on the work of the Maltese MEPs over the past five years.

The four MEPs forming part of the Maltese delegation in the Goup of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) have already participated in these debates, that form part of the EP’s together.eu digital community-building initiative. The events were moderated by Claire Agius Ordway.

Here’s a brief look at what came out of each discussion.

Cyrus Engerer

The environment as a fundamental human right

“You have the right to live in an environment that doesn’t kill you, and therefore a healthy environment is essential as a human right”, declared MEP Cyrus Engerer during a public debate on considering our natural environment as a human right. He emphasised that, without a healthy environment, people’s health also suffers, leading to a deteriorating quality of life.

MEP Engerer noted that work is being done in the EP to include this right in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, and it could possibly become part of the reform of the EU Treaties. He also took the view that these legislative changes can be effectuated proactively: Malta could alter its constitution and introduce the right to a healthy environment, taking a leading role in Europe on this as it has done in the field of LGBTIQ rights.

MEP Engerer also answered questions from the public. He spoke about his work in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), as well as in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO). He also spoke about his work in the Special Committee Against Cancer, where research analysed showed that cancer could be reduced by 40%, and this objective was introduced as a basis for the Committee’s work.

In addition, he spoke about civil liberties, equality, mental health, the life situations of LGBTIQ people, and access to medicines, including his work for a derogation to enable continued access in Malta to medicines from the UK.

MEP Engerer encouraged action at various levels: national, European, and even individual, through making more use of European citizens’ initiatives.

He stressed the importance of participating in the European elections to influence Europe’s direction: “With our vote, we will also be determining who will lead the EU and what political path it will take in the coming years.”

📺 Watch the discussion with MEP Cyrus Engerer here.

Alex Agius Saliba

Consumer rights

MEP Alex Agius Saliba described a whole range of work that he led in the EP, also in his capacity as Vice-President of the S&D political group.

“As a member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) I pushed legislation in various fields. Following the battle for a common charger for digital devices, I insisted for better safeguards on online platforms, the regulation of AI and the right to repair,” he said. “I take a strong interest in matters in my native Malta, where I called for investigations in hidden increases in tariffs in mobile phone contracts and requested the Commission to investigate artificial inflation in food prices”.

Referencing the AI Act and Digital Services Act (DSA), he stated: “the European continent is the first continent to succeed and today there are other countries like the US that are aiming to replicate what we have done.”

In his experience at the heart of European law-making, he became aware of how much work can be done impacting not only Europe, but also third countries – as Europe has shown with its work on AI, GDPR, and the DSA, which safeguard people on digital platforms both as citizens and as consumers.

MEP Agius Saliba urged the use of the right of petition to the EP, which anyone can easily access through this online form and submit directly without the need for legal assistance or payment. He reminded people that the EP reimburses people to go and present their petitions in person.

📺 Watch the discussion with MEP Alex Agius Saliba here.

Alfred Sant

The continental European market

MEP Alfred Sant noted that the EU is lagging far behind on capital market integration, although the EP has pushed for more ambition given the disagreements between member states. This is due to countries that have well-functioning share and stock exchange systems for their national interests, and other governments that fear losing control.

“The rules of the Stability Pact of the EU should be changed in such a way that investment costs are not calculated in a country’s deficit, and there should be a shift towards some form of central fund used as a treasury for European investments,” he stated.

MEP Sant warned about the risk of economies based on social welfare expenditure if there are too many new demands on the EU budget. “If you have rules that continue to be implemented as they are, and there cannot be a certain deficit because of them, in order not to have a deficit it becomes imperative to reduce costs, and cuts will often be made in social expenditure”.

Asked about the EU project for a fiscal union, he expressed the view that “it is impossible to have a full fiscal union if there is no central treasury for the EU”.

As his most significant task in the European Parliament, MEP Sant singled out the law for the cybersecurity of banks (the Digital Operational Resilience Act, or DORA), which was triggered, among other factors, by the cyberattack on a Maltese bank some years ago, in which millions of euros were stolen.

“This is a complex and innovative law that introduces cyberdefence systems for banks against the danger of attacks and theft. In this law, we had total harmony between the Council of the EU and the EP, because everyone wants cybersecurity.”

📺 Watch the discussion with MEP Alfred Sant here.

Josianne Cutajar

Strengthened connectivity and justice for our islands

“In the next mandate there is a need in the European Union for an Islands Pact as there is a Rural Pact for the regions of the European Union,” said MEP Josianne Cutajar. “The European Commission is skeptical in this regard because it considers that the islands are very different to each other, which is true, but the islands have common geographical challenges. There is still a lot left to do for the islands”.

MEP Cutajar outlined her work in various EP committees in the interests of islands. She noted that one of her best achievements as an MEP was an amendment to the new EU rules for sustainable marine fuels where “we bought more time for passenger ships for small islands such as Gozo and Ischia, that depend on sea transport, so that these have more time for the changeover to more sustainable fuels.”

She mentioned the cooperation between the Maltese MEPs in this legislature in favour of Malta in the package of laws on mobility as the only time in this legislature that the Maltese parliamentarians in the EP worked all together, and supported the same amendments, although in this case without success.

However, “the work of the Maltese MEPs is very important and it is important that we appreciate the work of the MEPs for the representation of our country, and it is important that we vote”, she emphasied. She wished success to the candidates for the European elections, which she will not contest this time.

MEP Cutajar also discussed the digital transition which is not only an important pillar in European politics “but also a spur for the social and economic progress of islands like ours”.

The environmental transition brings opportunities linked to the Green Economy and the Blue Economy – which, however, need to be accompanied in the member states by close cooperation with the educational sector so that these opportunities are properly used, she said.

She also emphasised that “we still need connectivity everywhere: an example close to home for me in Gozo is Daħlet Qorrot, where a mobile phone does not work.”

It is also important that “we do not assume that every person can afford the internet. There is a need for infrastructure and voucher systems, and also education for the elderly to use the internet, because in order to make a truly effective digital transition, everyone must have access”.

“The social aspect was always at the forefront in the work I carried out. I believe we should not leave anyone behind,” MEP Cutajar concluded.

📺 Watch the discussion with MEP Josianne Cutajar here.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments