A few days ago, the youngest MEPs in the Maltese delegation – Alex Agius Saliba and Josianne Cutajar – embarked on their new experience. Ruth Castillo met with them for their first plenary session in Strasbourg. After weeks of preparation, the two new MEPs appear to have clear ideas of what their priorities are going to be over the next five years.
The ninth European Parliament since the first MEP elections were held 40 years ago, also includes the largest number of women ever elected to this Parliament – 40% in all. Apart from this, 61% of the MEPs are new faces including two young Maltese representatives Alex Agius Saliba and Josianne Cutajar, with the latter also being the first MEP from Gozo.
The first few weeks were busy ones until the new MEPs found their feet in their new roles.
Alex Agius Saliba said, “we have had four weeks which were not a break from the long electoral campaign, but it was an important time for us to start getting used to this important role in which we will be defending the interests of so many Maltese and Gozitans at this important institution.”
They had a number of meetings with their political group, the Socialists and Democrats, as well as with representatives of various sectors with the aim of forming their priorities as MEPs.
Dr Cutajar said that politics in Brussels do not only take place in the plenary sessions but in the corridors of power as well.
“We are a small delegation. Because we are small it is very important that right from the start we need to start building alliances which will help us when it comes to lobbying on certain aspects which directly affect our country and our citizens.”
Dr Agius Saliba said that as one of the smallest delegations, Malta needs to make its voice heard even louder.
“When you are here, especially in Strasbourg, and you sit in the hemicycle for the plenary session, which is housed in the main building – you realise that this is it and you feel a certain responsibility to start working.”
Dr Agius Saliba will be a member of the Committee for Home Affairs and Consumer Protection and the Petitions Committee. He will also be the substitute member on the Committee for Employment and Social Affairs. Dr Cutajar will be a member of the Committee for Industry, Research and Energy and will serve as a substitute member on the Committee for Transport and Tourism and the Committee for Regional Development.