For me, above all else, the European Union means freedom.
The freedom to study, work, travel or retire across the European Union, without any boundaries.
This is my idea of freedom, and it is this idea of freedom that attracted me to the European Union when I was in my teens. And today, this freedom should be taken to the next level in this digital age, in the form of Internet Freedom.
We’re living in the digital era, yet for most young people in Malta and across Europe, access to online information is only available at home or when the signal is strong enough at a Wi-fi hotspot.
In this modern world, internet access is considered to be a new basic human right – yet young people are often forced to disconnect to preserve the limited access they have.
It’s time for the European Union to take action and address this barrier to free information for our youths
In this campaign, I’m working with a very young team, and I quickly realised that most of our team were forced to constantly switch their mobile data on and off all day long, if not just spending their time constantly seeking a WiFi spot.
It quickly became evident this was a common problem for Maltese youths, leaving them constantly looking for a WiFi hotspot to connect their smartphones to – and this is unacceptable in 2019.
Connecting to the internet wherever you want is something many of us take for granted, yet for many young people, it is a daily issue.
That is why I believe the European Union should invest in mobile data for youths throughout the EU, including Malta.
It firstly eliminates the digital barrier youths are currently experiencing, secondly it gives our young people internet freedom
This is Europe’s opportunity to be first in giving its citizens free access to this new fundamental right.
Of course, this idea would need to be endorsed by the European Commission at the end of the day – but this is an EU-wide proposal that I would be personally working on: youths being able to use data on their phones 24 hours a day, funded by the European Union.
This is how we get Maltese and European youths interested in the EU once again, while making sure our youths, the future of Europe, are kept up to date with the latest information.
We’ve already made progress on things like free mobile roaming between Member States, but this will take that idea a whole step further
Simply by using the EU’s funds to connect to the internet, you’ll become more connected to the EU.
Free internet access for youths, and increased EU participation: we’ll be hitting two birds with one stone. We’ll be getting people back into the EU’s fold, and giving young people the freedom to use the data they need in their day-to-day lives.
Of course, this would apply to the entire youth demographic: students, people who are working their first jobs, or indeed looking for a job – all Maltese and European youths.
Is it a feasible proposal?
This would mean an investment in our youths by the European Union of 5 billion Euros per year. This would be added to the other 4.3 billion Euro targeted to be used for the Erasmus+ programmes.
This proposal was launched on the 14th of April, at a special edition of one of our Taħt it-Tinda events, where we invited youths organisations from all sectors to see what they wanted over the next five years – and how I could help them achieve it.
And now that I’ve heard from Malta’s youths what one of their biggest daily battles is, I intend on addressing it.t’s time for your politicians to do less talking, and more listening, to have proposals that reflect more of what you want in the European Union.
Cyrus Engerer is a PL MEP Candidate, served as Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to the European Union and works as the Prime Minister’s Consultant on EU matters. He is alsoformer Sliema Deputy Mayor and is well-known for his work on LGBT+ rights and civil issues.
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