Citizens of the European Union will make some monumental decisions in less than two months’ time, choosing the MEPs they want to represent them in a rapidly-changing Europe.
With this in mind, Lovin Malta conducted an online survey among Maltese people who will vote next May, asking them for their views on the EU and what issues they would like their MEPs to tackle.
With 514 people responding, out of whom 64% were 16-35 years old and 51.9% hadn’t voted in the last European Parliament election, the survey results make for some interesting reading.
This is what we found
Malta absolutely loves freedom of movement
Asked what their favourite part of being an EU citizen is and given no options to choose from, a staggering majority said they value the freedom of movement between EU countries, with the Erasmus study programme often cited too.
Some outliers also mentioned the single market, the Euro, free healthcare and services in EU countries, peace, environment and food standards and EU funds which can be used to help those in need.
Principles over everything
Asked to describe their ideal MEP through a list of pre-given characteristics, the most popular choice was that s/he must be principled, voiced by 75.1% of respondents. 51.2% said their MEPs must maintain close contact with Maltese people, while 50.8% said they must be passionate.
Experience isn’t seen as a priority, with only 36.5% marking that trait, almost as many as those who said their MEP must have a warm and approachable personality (31.2%). At the bottom of the list, only 18.6% said it is important that MEPs have international contacts.
The environment is a top concern
Maltese people clearly care a great deal about the environment, with a significant 74% of respondents listing it as an issue they want their MEPs to fight for. This was followed by quality of life and work-life balance (68%), human rights (65.2%), clamping down on corruption (60.1%) and workers’ rights and job creation (56.9%).
42.3% listed border control, 38.4% listed solutions to terrorism, 36% listed civil liberties and 33.9% said they must seek closer union among member states. Privacy does not appear to be a top concern, with only 18.6% marking it as an issue they expect their MEPs to fight for.
Youths care more about everything except border control
Maltese youths (16-35 year olds) clearly have a higher level of concern than other citizens about almost every issue listed in the survey. The environment once again comes out as the most pressing concern, with 78.7% of youths saying they want their MEPs to fight for green issues, followed by quality of life and work-life balance (72.9%) and human rights (70.8%).
However, there is one notable exception. While 42.3% of the general public list border control as a top concern, the figure slightly dips to 41.3% among youths. Consequently, border control is overtaken as a top concern by the need to find solutions to terrorism, which rises by five percentage points among youths.
Once again, civil liberties (39.5%), closer union (36.8%) and privacy issues (18.6%) are at the bottom of the list.
Mixed feelings on how they want the EU to change
Such an open-ended question was bound to throw up a diverse range of opinions and it didn’t disappoint. This is a selection of the 500 plus responses:
“Harder stance on corruption” – Female, 21-35
“The lack of understanding of the complexity behind certain issues and the often divided nature of EU politics” – Male, 21-35
“Reducing bureaucracy and transforming it into a more social Europe” – Female, 21-35
“To stop trying to become a federation” – Male, 21-35
“Transform it into a federation” – Male, 36-50
“More women at the top” – Female, 51-64
“The mentality that the EU is something where member states pick policies they like and ignore others they don’t” – Male, 16-20
“More coordinated and holistic approaches to effectively and humanely dealing with irregular migration and other foreign affairs. Taking a passive or laissez faire or “not in my back yard” approach is not the answer” – Female, 21-35
“Sometimes it gets too involved in internal matters which regard only our country” – Female, 51-64
“More focus on member states that break rules, eg. Malta re spring hunting” – Female, 16-20
“Mostly I think something that needs a lot of work is terrorism. The situation had changed and it obviously is very difficult have open borders from one country to the other, but I think more work could be done to reduce terrorism attacks possibly from some of the hate speech on social media etc…” – Male, 16-20
“MEPs should have proper qualifications to take part in elections” – Male,16-20
“Immigrants are still human at the end of the day, instead of seeing where to place them as if they are bags of flour we should first get them settled somewhere safe, then argue about where to locate them. Also, more female MEPs i’m begging you.” – Female, 16-20
Widespread belief in the EU’s longevity
Despite Brexit and the rise of anti-EU rhetoric across the continent, respondents were pretty convinced that the EU will stick around for the long haul.
Indeed, 34.4% said they’re extremely confident the EU will still be around in 10 years’ time, while a further 50% said they’re confident it will be.
Care about still having an EU to find opportunities in?
The European Parliament’s “This Time I’m Voting” campaign is in full swing. The online portal thistimeimvoting.eu is a starting point for discussion on the future of Europe and – engage to vote here!
Signing up is simple and hassle-free. You can even register as a volunteer to participate in the events currently being organised by the European Parliament Office in Malta and make your own ideas come to life.
Breathe your own unique voice into democracy and show your support for the EU with actions, not just words.
In Maltese the website is www.diddarbasenivvota.eu. Get your civic cogs turning!