Gearing up for an active role

The Head of the Maltese delegation in the S&D highlights the respect it enjoys within its European political family despite issues on which they may not see eye to eye.

The Head of the three-strong Maltese delegation in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament, Alex Agius Saliba, underscored the team’s commitment to punch above its weight to help the European social democrat family succeed as a forceful advocate for social justice.

Fresh off his re-election as one of the nine Vice Presidents of the S&D Group, Agius Saliba shared his views on the next European Parliament legislature in the last episode of Kafè Ewropa, the weekly talk show on One Radio hosted by Sandro Mangion, editor of The Journal, focusing on European Union issues.

Agius Saliba described his confirmation as a member of the S&D’s bureau, the body that co-ordinates its political activity, as another confirmation of the respect that the small Maltese delegation enjoys within its European political family. He was first elected Vice President in December 2021.

The Head of the Maltese delegation in the S&D acknowledged that there are issues on which MEPs elected on the Maltese Labour Party’s ticket may have different viewpoints from the Group’s, such as – in his case – abortion legalisation. He insisted these differences would not prevent collaboration within the Group. The social democrat MEPs’ shared goal of a more equitable Europe, and keeping the European Project citizen-focused, remained paramount.

He referred to his re-election as S&D Vice President as a testament to that. The Group recognised the accomplishments of its Maltese delegation during the last term, which stemmed from the important roles entrusted to its members, he said.

MEP Alex Agius Saliba, Head of the Maltese Delegation in the S&D, speaking on ‘Kafè Ewropa’.

While for Alex Agius Saliba this is the second term as MEP, for the other two Maltese S&D MEPs – Daniel Attard and Thomas Bajada – this is a totally new experience and they are still in the process of setting up their teams. In the meantime, as Head of Delegation, Agius Saliba is busy negotiating on the distribution of the Maltese team members’ responsabilities as full and substitute members of the European Parliament’s committees, specialised groups of MEPs dealing with specific policy areas. There are currently 20 standing committees, each responsible for a different area of EU legislation.

For instance, Agius Saliba is working hard to retain the committees of which he was a member in the last legislature: the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), and a substitute member on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). At the same time, he is identifying committees that would best exploit Daniel Attard and Thomas Bajada’s experience and areas of expertise to provide Maltese and other European citizens with a stronger voice.

Agius Saliba said that the European citizens’ main priority, as expressed in the European elections, is to have decent, afforable housing, enhanced employment conditions, and an improvement in their standard of living. “In this light, we have to ensure that totally senseless proposals like the one made by the European Commission recently for Malta to scale back its energy subsidies are avoided so that people are shielded from the burden of high inflation,” he warned.

Pledging that the Maltese delegation in the S&D will prirotise the needs and interests of the Maltese citizens, Alex Agius Saliba augured that the Maltese delegation in the European People’s Party (EPP) will do the same.

The MEP stressed the value of programmes like Kafè Ewropa, which empower Maltese citizens to stay informed about EU affairs and understand their impact locally. Programmes like these bridge the distance between Europeans and the EU institutions in Brussels. This allows citizens to stay informed about their MEPs’ work and how it shapes their daily realities.

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