Q&A with Alex Agius Saliba

Through a 5-question interview, The Journal delves into the perspectives of MEP Alex Agius Saliba (S&D), one of the candidates being fielded by the Partit Laburista for the 8th June European Parliament elections.

1. What drives your decision to run for the European Parliament in the upcoming elections?

My experience during the last five years at the European Parliament has shown me that politicians who are passionate and determined may make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, especially for the working class, pensioners, and vulnerable individuals. The introduction of a universal charger for digital devices and the right to disconnect from work outside office hours are just two examples of how my work in favour of the least privileged came to fruition.  Other work, such as to improve safeguards against malicious online marketing and to enhance the rights of individuals on the autism spectrum, is at an advanced stage and will be continued in the next legislature.

2. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

We are living in an era of increased economic volatility and uncertainty, not least due to external factors such as wars, the lingering aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic, and chronic labour shortages.  In such circumstances electors seek to put their mind at rest by electing authentic politicians who will work for their cause.  Being born and raised in a working-class family allows me to comprehend these uncertainties better. My unwavering commitment towards socialist principles and my work for the benefit of the working class sets me apart from other contestants. Furthermore, by being consistently transparent I enable electors to appreciate how I intend to deliver on my promises, what they should expect, and the limits of what may be achieved.

3. What would be your top goals if you were elected?

During the last few months, I have embarked on a campaign to point out unfair increases in prices brought about by de facto monopolies in the food retail sector.  The campaign has already achieved initial success as some importers have voluntarily agreed to decrease prices. In the next legislature I will continue pursuing European institutions until action is taken to effectively eliminate unfair practices, thus achieving a fairer deal for our families.  I will complement this campaign with similar initiatives in other areas where Maltese consumers may be short-changed.  I will also ensure that any new legislation introduced by the European Parliament does not negatively impact those who struggle to make ends meet.

4. What, in your view, are the most pressing issues the European Union will be facing in the next five years?

Increased economic uncertainty, the implementation of the European Green Deal, and labour shortages will be the most pressing matters for European institutions, which tend to assess their priorities according to criteria based on macro-economic barometers and environmental indicators.  I believe that issues which have greater relevance in our daily lives, such as the decrease in spending power due to inflation and the impact of immigration on society, should take precedence.  The mismatch between the institutions and electors is causing increasing disenfranchisement in the European Union which has led to an increase in support for far-right parties and other extremists. This is yet another pressing issue and I will do my utmost to ensure that the priorities of the institutions become aligned with the priorities of society.    

5. As a general principle, do you support further integration of the European project? Should the EU’s Member States confer on the Union competence over more areas that are currently of exclusive national competence in a bid to improve efficiency, consistency, and harmonisation, and to further protect citizens’ rights?

Over the years the European Union has evolved from a small group of countries with a shared culture and history which also enjoyed geographically proximity to 27 countries with different backgrounds flung around the entire continent.  The diversity will increase even further when the accession process of other Eastern European countries is completed. The Brexit vote has shown that voters are not necessarily always happy with the concept of an ever-closer Union.  I shall promote the concept that the European Union should take stock of the current situation, propose further integration solely in areas where increased harmonisation may be linked with direct benefits for citizens and, pertinently, consider allowing Member States greater freedoms in areas where such benefits do not exist.  The European Union would become stronger and more popular with these changes.

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