Climate change, COVID-19, Afghanistan, high cost of living and the protection of journalists: in light of today’s start of the fresh political season, Lovin Malta has reached out to Maltese MEPs to get their insight on what to expect, and the list looks promising.
“The agenda is packed,” said the first Vice-President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola when speaking about the array of topics that she, her colleagues and the subsequent European Parliament will be touching upon in these coming months.
One of Metsola’s main focuses will be on the finalisation of the report on new laws surrounding the protection of journalists and NGOs against abusive SLAPP lawsuits that drain the funds of media houses in the attempt to silence and censor them without a legitimate basis.
Proposals of the implementation of such laws on a national level previously came from opposition members but were curiously ignored by the Maltese government.
This led Metsola to lead the initiative of bringing this issue to the European stage.
Nationalist MEP David Casa will also be using his seat to continue his work on the protection of journalists across Europe.
Meanwhile, he will increase his efforts in ensuring that the EU has concrete anti money laundering policies in place that should prohibit politicians from stealing funds from the public.
On the other hand, Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba will use his platform to continue building on past initiatives that seek to offer a safe and prosperous work environment with an equal playing field for all.
While also ensuring long-term security and fighting poverty and social exclusion.
Without further ado, here is the list of top EU initiatives:
Climate Action Measures
Climate change has been a pressing issue for several years now, but the severity and thus significance of it is only increasing.
The problem is justly edging its way towards the forefront of the EU agenda with an entirely new package of legislation that will fight climate change, reduce emissions and fund sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives.
In fact, Agius Saliba admitted that despite its seriousness, climate change has rarely received the attention it deserves.
Therefore, he will continue working with his colleagues to ensure that the EU Green Deal is implemented as quickly as possible.
The European Green Deal is all about boosting the efficient use of resources and moving to a clean, circular economy, while also restoring biodiversity and making Europe carbon neutral by 2050.
“Every EU Member State should do its part to combat climate change, but each country’s reality must also be considered,” Agius Saliba soberly reminded.
The global pandemic has been at the frontline of everyone’s agenda this past year and a half, and the issue isn’t going away anytime soon.
However, EU discussions are now centred around figuring out how to live with the virus and prevent such a crisis from reoccurring. This comes along with ramping up the vaccination process, economic recoveries and the establishment of a European Health Union.
Such a union will establish necessary procedures and bring member states together, while ensuring an easier system of procuring equipment, vaccines and ventilators.
The humanitarian crisis that has dominated our screens and caused global concern has left nation leaders around the world scrambling for solutions.
Besides the immediate heart-shattering consequences that has potentially descended Afghanistan into a “safe-haven for terrorists, fundamentalists and extremists”, the dramatic withdrawal of US and NATO troops will signal a generational shift in global geo-politics.
Metsola explained that if the world feels that it can no longer look, with the same level of confidence, to the US or NATO to provide comfort and enforce restraint, we will see emboldened moves from hostile actors.
“That means that Europe must realise that the weight of the world democratic and security order rests more heavily on our shoulders. It is a wake-up call that we have snoozed too many times. Cooperation on these issues between Member States must deepen.”
Bonus: High Cost Of Living And Minimum Wage
This may not be at the top of the EU plans, but it is still a domestic concern that our national MEPs are looking into resolving.
“The risk of in-work poverty in Malta is real,” Metsola declared.
The country has minimum wages below 40% of the average salary which means that we’re falling short of the standard of decent living, according to Metsola.
Both she and Casa are in contact with different social partners and business representatives to figure out the best ways to close “the holes in our social fabric”.
Metsola continued to say that member states should be provided with a framework that includes guidelines on how to increase their minimum wage, this should be done in agreement with the social partners of that respective country.
Thus, they will be calling for consensus between social partners on this matter.
The Maltese government already issued its position against an EU directive and argued that the proposed framework should leave the setting of minimum wages under national control in compliance with the principle of subsidiarity.
Meanwhile, Agius Saliba called for an adequate minimum wage that should provide a decent standard of living and thus respond to the increasing cost of living further reducing in-work poverty and guaranteeing an income above the poverty level for every worker, while considering the variations of living costs within the member states.
The articles hereunder form part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. These articles reflect only the authors’ views. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information these articles contain.
What proposals do you suggest for our Maltese MEPs?