Hon. Leader of the Opposition
I want to start by expressing my gratitude to Ms Therese Zahra, acting Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta and Dr Mario Sammut, Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta, for hosting us today.
Today we come together to celebrate the foundations of Europe as enshrined in the Schuman Declaration. A visionary pact that changed the lives of millions. It provided the solution to a lasting peace in Europe and the world. It promoted shared values and shared resources. It encouraged solidarity and good neighbourly relations amongst its signatories. It gave the world respite from two devastating world wars and gave the opportunity to self-determination to big and small countries alike.
As we celebrate EU unity today, we cannot help but draw a parallel between what is happening in Ukraine and the very reason why we are gathered here together. It is heartbreaking that after eighty years we are witnessing again a savage military aggression on European soil. An unprovoked attack on a people and country whose lives are being destroyed and usurped from their normality. The humanitarian price that Ukraine is paying is very high and unfortunately its effect will be long term. This conflict is also challenging economic stability and food security around the world due to short supplies of goods and materials.
One cannot fail to notice that assistance from the EU side has been prompt from the very beginning and is ongoing on many levels. The wave of solidarity expressed by individual Member States and EU Institutions alike is proof that the EU is there to assist and that there is no room for complacency for an unprovoked and unjustified military aggression.
The first line of the Schuman Declaration states that ‘world peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it’. It shows us how much need and relevance there is still in our unity, our core values and in our mission to foster solidarity and dialogue within our Union and around the world. This war is a stark reminder to us and our younger generations that peace cannot be taken for granted. We have worked hard for many years to maintain peace and we will continue working to ensure it is lasting for our future generations.
Since 1950, the European Union has evolved and grown in both size and scope. It is now a Union of twenty-seven Member States. More recently in 2016, the EU has embraced a holistic approach to the role that it wanted to have in the world through the EU Global Strategy. It brought together foreign policy, public diplomacy, security and defence, the promotion of state building and societal resilience, integrated approach to conflicts and crises, cooperative regional orders and a rules-based governance in its neighbourhood any beyond.
The EU has also become a leader in many areas of global concern, namely the ambitious European Green Deal. The Green Deal puts the EU at the forefront in tackling climate change and environmental degradation and the threat they pose to the well-being of every person on the planet. It fully complements and builds on the UN’s Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development as the aim of the Green Deal is to transform the Union into a resource-efficient and competitive economic block. Eliminating greenhouse gases emissions by 2050, separating the notion of economic growth from resources exploitation, and ensuring that no person and no place are left behind, are at the core of the Green Deal.
The Green Deal in itself is an important tool to help our Union tackle the impact of Covid-19 as well as ensures adequate preparedness to similar situations in the future.
The global pandemic has challenged our lives and disrupted all that we took for granted.
It had a negative impact on many aspects of our lives, including productivity and economic stability. In this regard, the Recovery and Resilience Facility has been at the core of the Commission’s Next Generation EU instrument with the aims to foster sustainability amongst European economies and to support the transition towards green and digital economies. As amply highlighted in the Commission’s 8th Cohesion Report last February, green and digital transitions will be key drivers for EU growth. It also argues that without appropriate policy action new economic, social and territorial disparities may arise. In this regard, the vision of the Cohesion Policy towards the 2050 goals complements both the aims of the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the Green Deal in reducing disparities and encouraging the use of cleaner and sustainable practices in our daily lives. Investing in ourselves and our wellbeing is an investment in our resilience in countering future challenges.
Illum qed infakkru t-twaqqif tal-Unjoni Ewropea, iżda tajjeb insemmu wkoll li ftit tal-jiem ilu għadna kif iċċelebrajna għeluq it-tmintax-il sena mid-dħul ta’ Malta fl-istess Unjoni. Sa mill-bidu tas-sħubija tagħna fl-Unjoni Ewropea, Malta dejjem kienet membru attiv, u minkejja xi diffikultajiet marbuta maċ-ċokon tagħna, dejjem tajna sehemna daqs ħaddieħor u aktar. Bdejna din is-sena b’mod speċjali hekk kif Dr Roberta Metsola ġiet eletta bħala President tal-Parlament Ewropew. Huwa tassew ta’ unur għal pajjiżna li mara Maltija qed tokkupa kariga daqstant prestiġjuża. Nemmen li pajjiżna għad għandu ħafna nies ta’ talent li kapaċi jirnexxu f’kull qasam li topera fih l-Unjoni Ewropea.
Aktar kmieni semmejt kif l-Unjoni Ewropa ingħaqdet b’solidarjetà mal-Poplu Ukren. Kull pajjiż ta sehmu speċjalment fuq livell umanitarju. Nixtieq li din it-tip ta’ solidarjetà tiġi estiża għal kull qasam, b’mod partikolari dak tal-migrazzjoni. Bħala pajjiż fiċ-ċentru tal-Mediterran, aħna flimkien ma’ pajjiżi bħalna fl-Unjoni Ewropea għadna nirċievu numru kbir ta’ nies li jaslu lejn xtutna b’mod irregolari.
L-immigrazzjoni huwa fenomenu li se jibqa’ magħna.
Kemm minħabba konflitti u kemm minħabba n-nuqqas ta’ opportunitajiet li jeżistu f’pajjiżi li minnhom jitilqu dawn il-migranti. Ma jeżistux soluzzjonijiet faċli għal kwistjoni kumplessa bħal din, iżda nemmen li fl-għaqda hemm is-saħħa, u li bħala Unjoni Ewropea nistgħu naslu għal deċiżjonijiet li jtaffu l-piż għal pajjiżi bħalna, jevitaw it-telf ta’ ħajjiet, u jindirizzaw b’mod komprensiv il-kawżi li jimbuttaw lil eluf ta’ nies li jitilqu kollox warajhom biex isibu opportunitajiet ta’ ħajja aħjar x’imkien ieħor.
Hekk kif għadha kif temmejna l-Konferenza Plenarja dwar il-Futur tal-Ewropa, ta’ min jixtarr id-dokument tal-proposti li fosthom jinkludi l-migrazzjoni, it-tibdil fil-klima, l-Unjoni Ewropea fid-Dinja, l-edukazzjoni, ix-xogħol u l-ġustizzja soċjali. Dan l-eżerċizzju dwar il-Futur tal-Ewropa ilu għaddej sena u kull ċittadin kellu l-fakultà li jipparteċipa u jesprimi l-ideat tiegħu ta’ fejn għandha tmur l-Unjoni. In-nies tkellmu u ħarġet ċara ix-xewqa li jkollna Unjoni aktar viċin tagħhom, magħquda, li tkattar il-ġid b’rispett lejn il-valuri u d-drittijiet li ġiet imsejsa fuqhom, li tħares l-ambjent u li tiżviluppa pjattaformi diġitali li jwasslu għat-tisħiħ ta’ ekonomija aktar soċjali u sostenibbli.
Whilst we celebrate our Unity, we have to concentrate our efforts on how we are to evolve in a stronger and more united Europe. There is no doubt that the project started by the EU’s founding fathers in the 1950s is still wanted and now embraced and taken forward by our own citizens. As the consultation process on the Future of the EU is coming to an end, we all have the duty to ensure that our citizens’ voices and expectations are reflected in our decisions.
Let our evolution be grounded in our founding values and reflected in the needs of our future generations, in full respect of the realities and circumstances in our different countries and regions.