Malta officially became a European Union member state 1 May 2004.
All in all, over these 15 years, the EU has brought us an improved standard of living: with free movement, the quality of products and services, roads, restoration, healthcare, improved working hours, training, education, employment and in a plethora of other sectors. EU funds are probably the most visible example of this success; a success which would not have come about had it not been for the dedication of many people who managed to use EU funds wisely in projects which benefit the country and the communities.
This success was not only achieved through funds. In these last 15 years, we were capable of participating, despite our limitations, at every level of the decisions taken in the EU, without allowing any sense of inferiority to hold us back. The participation of Government officials and representatives from organisations in each sector and in EU institutions and fora have shown that, despite its small size, Malta can achieve results. It is enough to mention the success of the Maltese Presidency of the EU Council in the first six months of 2017.
We can say without any hesitation that the other EU Member states can learn a lot from us. One just needs to mention the economy and employment. Another aspect of this success is that because of our size those who take decisions are closer to the people. The EU should learn from us and become more citizen centred by listening to and addressing their hopes and concerns.
MEUSAC is also a useful Government agency, which is currently not found in other Member States, which was set up specifically to be a point of reference for citizens in the Maltese islands where the EU is concerned. Thanks to MEUSAC one can find information, make your voice heard in consultation meetings and benefit from EU funds.
Anniversaries do not just come around for us to look back. We need to look forward so that the success of the last 15 years is sustained and will continue to grow. At the same time, we need to keep in mind those who in one way or another were badly affected by membership and continue to address the challenges which the EU brings with it in certain sectors. We also need to pay attention to those who do not see membership as something positive or who feel that the Union has more flaws than benefits and that sometimes it uses the same weights and measures with Malta as it does with much larger countries.
As it has done for the last 15 years, our country also needs to continue to show other member states that the EU will not remain a Union if everyone does not pull the same rope.
On our part, as EU citizens, we cannot keep complaining about those who take decisions for us, without us also doing our part to inform ourselves about what is happening around us and give our opinions by using various means, including through broadcasting, meetings and other occasions. The most imminent occasion will be the European Parliament elections on 25 May. in which we should use this important tool in the democratic process to go and vote for those who we think will represent us in the best way possible in this important EU institution.
All those who are interested in following what MEUSAC is doing and want to obtain information about the MEP elections can do so on their website (meusac.gov.mt) as well as their Facebook page (facebook.com/meusacmalta), by phoning 2200 3300 or by sending an email to [email protected]