Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela participated in the third plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, happening between the 21st and 22nd of January, 2022.
These plenary meetings are part of the process of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which is a wide-ranging consultation exercise with European citizens, began in May of 2021, and is due to close by spring 2022.
Minister Abela participated in the working group on migration, where he highlighted that Malta places particular importance on strengthening dialogue and cooperation with third countries on migration. He noted that, economic issues will remain a major factor for migration. The Minister stated that, “In order to bring about some positive change, we need to work together with our partners, providing economic opportunities and improve living conditions, not only in the EU, but more importantly in third countries. We need to work together on this, and maintain a united front.”
Under the agenda, ‘values and rights, rule of law, security’ Minister Carmelo Abela explained that the recommendations presented by the members of the plenary are a testament that the EU is not only a vibrant democracy, but one which is built on strong values.
The Minister, in his intervention, welcomed the recommendation to establish criteria on anti-discrimination in the workplace and to create a framework that supports work-life balance, particularly through investment in child-minding facilities. He explained that Malta is already adopting this measure through the provision of free childcare, and that the results have been very positive; both towards increasing participation of women in the workforce, but also to ensure a greater and better work-life balance.
Recommendations were presented that citizens clearly need better instruments for participation in decision-making and channels through which they can address their concerns and complaints on EU-related benefits and rights.In this regard, Minister Carmelo Abela referred to Servizzi Ewropej f’Malta (SEM), as an agency that can serve as a model, that can work in all Member States. He explained that the role of SEM in Malta, is committed to keep citizens informed of what is going on in the EU, to involve them in the decision-making process and to exploit the benefits of EU membership, in particular through assisting organisations in tapping into EU-funding opportunities.
SEM organised 40 discussion activities in Malta and Gozo, for a wide range of people, to give their ideas and suggestions on the Future of Europe. Minister Abela remarked that, “citizen participation is a reminder for us politicians, to never stop listening to what citizens have to say, the importance of democratic education, and keeping an open dialogue with citizens.”
Concluding his address to the plenary, Minister Abela hopes that this is just the beginning of this journey of a social dialogue that is open, and one which will result in a Union that truly reflects the aspirations of all European citizens.
Source: Office of the Prime Minister