Europe Day 2018
MEPs Sant and Metsola debate our European Identity and the Futture of Europe - De La Salle win first-ever Europe Day 2018 Quiz
European identity, the EU’s achievements and its flaws, and the future of Europe were subject of a lively debate at the University of Malta campus whilst De La Salle won the first intra-school Europe Day quiz organised by the European Parliament Office in Malta as part of its Europe Day 2018 activities in Valletta.
European identity, the EU’s achievements and its flaws, and the future of Europe - focusing on budgetary expenditure and Brexit - were the substance of a lively afternoon debate today on the University of Malta campus as part of the Europe Day celebrations.
MEP Alfred Sant (S&D, MT) and MEP Roberta Metsola (EPP, MT) answered questions from the students present in a panel that also included Dr Mark Harwood, from the Institute for European Studies, and Mr Neil Portelli from the Malta-EU Steering and Action Committee, in a panel debate led by JEF Malta.
"Europe is not just the treaties and laws, it is a shared cultural space, a shared living space reflected in our arts and literature," MEP Alfred Sant.
Dr Metsola observed that the Treaties remind us where the Europe of today has come from, the values that we treasure and which Europeans must not put aside.
The need to look more to the future of Europe by engaging more in citizens’ dialogues, the must for citizens to engage in processes and expenditures that ultimately concern them, ensuring more convergence amongst Member States, negotiations on the impact of Brexit on the EU budget and safeguarding Maltese agriculture against disproportionate budgets cuts in agriculture were all touched on in a knowledgeable exchange.
On Europe’s budgetary challenges and future, Dr Sant observed that there will be a need to focus on the disequilibrium that Brexit has created. Europe in the future must also look into conflicting perceptions that exist, for instance, between the North and South on the euro. On the other hand, he highlighted that the current budgetary exercise must not lose sight of the Europe that we want, referring in particular to the need for Europe to have its own strategic supply of food through the sustained CAP.
On the subject of budgetary talks, Dr Metsola observed that it will be interesting to see how the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, in previous years always dominated by the UK, will now proceed. She focused on populism as the biggest threat to the EU, the need to re-ask ourselves the question “why do we form part of the EU” and expressed the hope that 60 years from today there will still be a Europe Day to celebrate.
Asked on the European Union’s biggest achievements and flaws, MEP Sant singled out “making Eastern Europe part of the European democratic system” as a great achievement, the downside of which was “underestimating Russia and still facing a blowback from it without response”.
For MEP Metsola the free movement of people goods and services is a great achievement to be safeguarded. “The closures of national borders within Europe after the terrorist attacks must be temporary”, she insisted. “We must remember the ultimate aim of the EU and not allow a small minority of terrorists to derail us”. On the negative side, she noted the impression among some larger Member States that think they can trample on those that are smaller. She highlighted the importance of alliances and negotiation, amongst Member States and within the European Parliament as crucial to avoid majority decisions impacting smaller states negatively in a disproportionate way.
Mark Harwood pointed to the EU’s biggest plus as being “28 countries making collective decisions” whereas is biggest flaw is the perception of the EU being an elite-driven process, which comes from trying to bring together half a billion people. For Neil Portelli, the challenge with the EU is that it is complicated, making it hard for citizens to be well-informed, and its biggest achievement is “sixty years of peace”.
The debate, entitled Our European Identity, took place at the University of Malta, and was organised by JEF Malta in collaboration with the Europe Direct Information Centre, the European Commission Representation in Malta, and the European Parliament Office in Malta.
Earlier on Europe Day, De La Salle won the first intra-school Europe Day quiz organised by the European Parliament Office in Malta as part of its Europe Day activities in Valletta.
MEP Roberta Metsola presented book vouchers to the winners and met participating students from De La Salle College, Our Lady Immaculate, St Augustine College and St. Thomas More College, St Martin’s and St Michael Foundation.
The schools had three rounds of tough questions on the EU including a time trial competition in a hard-fought battle that gathered crowds in front of the national parliament, with many of those visiting the Europe Day stands in Valletta stopping to follow the quiz and cheer the students on.