Another opportunity for citizens to debate the European Union

The third ‘Debate on a Citizens’ Europe’ organised by MEUSAC took place on Friday September 13 in Buġibba and centred on the topic, ‘Europe without Borders’.
By: Malta-EU Steering & Action Committee (MEUSAC)
BIRKIRKARA, Malta - Sept. 16, 2013 - PRLog -- These debates are being organised to mark the European Year of Citizens 2013, of which MEUSAC is the national coordinator.

The main speakers in the debate were Maltese MEP Joseph Cuschieri and Grace Attard, a Member of the Maltese delegation in the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

Mr Cuschieri, who forms part of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, highlighted the fact that the European Parliament is the only EU institution the members of which are directly elected by the citizens. He also explained how the European Parliament, together with the Council of Ministers, adopts EU legislation.

The Maltese MEP said that, “although over the years the role of the European Parliament in the decision making process was strengthened, there is still scope for further enhancement”. Mr Cuschieri also said that the small number of Maltese MEPs makes it impossible for them to participate in all of the 22 committees of the European Parliament.

Ms Attard delved into the work carried out by the EESC which is made up of representatives of trade unions, employers’ unions and civil society from each Member State. Ms Attard, who represents civil society, is also involved in the EU’s external relations with North African countries.

Ms Attard discussed the challenge of youth unemployment in Europe, and how the EU is facing up to this problem, going into detail about the two EU initiatives ‘European Youth Guarantee’ and ‘Youth Employment Initiative’. These two initiatives work to give European youths the skills needed for today’s labour market. Ms Attard pointed out that the problem is also being addressed through funding programmes that facilitate the cross-border mobility of workers and students in the EU.

Among the topics raised from the floor were the exploitation of unskilled workers who move from one Member State to another; the fight against precarious work, how poverty is being tackled in Europe, the importance of European citizens’ awareness of their rights, and of the level of authority of the EU institutions over national issues such as the national budget and eligible EU funding; how EU Membership has affected Malta’s sovereignty and the weight carried by a small Member State such as Malta.
MEP Joseph Cuschieri replied to these interventions by saying that the EU legislation process takes place in a contest of wide consultation with all sectors concerned. He said that this means that Malta’s dimensions and population should not be a hindrance, and when small countries like Malta speak with a common voice, that voice becomes much stronger and significant.

Debate moderator PBS journalist Norma Saliba brought the event to an end by asking the panel why citizens should vote for the European Parliament elections of May next year. The speakers agreed that the debate showed that citizens are interested in the EU, and MEPs are in an ideal position to ensure that the EU is nearer to the citizens.

The discussion during this debate accentuated how MEUSAC works in different ways to disseminate information to all sectors of society about the EU and citizens’ rights. In particular, MEUSAC assists NGOs and local councils to access EU funds for projects that help the citizens they work with and the communities they operate in.

The next Citizens’ Debate with the theme, ‘Ilkoll Ewropej, Ilkoll Konsumaturi’ is scheduled for Thursday 19th September in Marsaskala. This series of debates and other events are funded by the EU under the Management Partnership between MEUSAC and the European Commission.

MEUSAC ( is the national coordinator for the European Year of Citizens 2013.
Source:Malta-EU Steering & Action Committee (MEUSAC)
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