PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPEAKER: Address by Speaker An?lu Farrugia at the Extraordinary Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments held at the Chamber of Deputies, Palazzo Montecitorio, Rome

It is indeed an honour for me to be here today celebrating this important anniversary for our Union and its achievements over the past 60 years.

As Speaker of the Parliament of the Member State holding the rotating Presidency of the Council allow me to start my address by underlining briefly the importance of the parliamentary dimension. I believe that the relevance of the European Union depends on its democratic legitimacy. The growth and development over the years of the various inter-parliamentary fora in which all our parliaments are active is evidence of the fact that national parliaments and the European Parliament have become an integral part of the European decision-making structure, linking the citizens – who we represent – to the place where decisions are taken.

The result of the Eurobarometer Survey of 2015 showing that 84% of the Maltese population feel like citizens of the European Union reflects a convergence of attitudes in this respect.

The same survey shows that in 25 Member States the majority of the respondents are of the opinion that future challenges can be faced better from within the European Union than from outside. As encouraging as this may seem, the Union also finds itself for the first time in its history on the eve of the first formal withdrawal notification of one of its Members. This is uncharted territory for everyone and its impact is hard to predict at this stage.

However, we must not allow this backdrop to cast a dark shadow over the astounding achievements that we are celebrating together here today. Only a few days ago, the European Commission launched its White Paper on the Future of Europe ahead of the March Council. This is an important document which provides a good analysis of where our Union started and the situation it finds itself in today. The approach of indicating five possible courses of action has been criticised as maybe not being bold enough and as not being clear what the preferred option of the Commission is. Whilst admittedly this White Paper lacks the clear direction that some of us could have been hoping for, it goes a long way in setting out different scenarios that could result depending on the decisions taken. I believe that the cautious approach of encouraging debate rather than prescribing the course of action is a sensible one.

As I remarked at the beginning, parliaments have gained a significant position in the European decision-making process. The broad consultation on the future of Europe proposed by President Juncker including national parliaments is thus commended; each one of us here is duty-bound to facilitate and promote this process in our respective Chambers.

On this 60th anniversary we should not forget where this Union started from and the efforts that were required to get here. The fact that many of us were not even born when the Rome Treaty was signed exactly 60 years ago means that most of us were lucky to be born in the longest period of lasting peace in a region that has been historically fraught by countless wars. By itself, this achievement is one that we cannot but be proud of. It was this lasting peace which enabled the unprecedented economic and social progress of the European Union and the establishment of the single market which remains the cornerstone of the Union.

I would like to conclude by referring to the words of a young Maltese gentleman, Larkin Zahra, who back in 2012 participated in an online competition concerning the meaning of peace in Europe. His winning entry was brief, but in my opinion conveys a very powerful message on what peace in Europe stands for. His words, “My grandparents would have said ‘a dream’. My parents would have said ‘a process’. I say that it’s my everyday reality!” are simple yet effective. It reminds us that what some of us take for granted was only possible thanks to the vision and hard work of our forefathers. This should also be our motivation at this critical juncture for our Union.

The final message I would like to draw from Larkin’s inspiring words is that we should listen to our youth, as that is where our future, and that of the Union, lies. We must make sure that we leave a better world than what we found for the younger generations as they are the ones who will be taking our dreams forward and making them a reality for the generations to come.

Source: Government of Malta

PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPEAKER: Address by Speaker An?lu Farrugia at the Extraordinary Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments held at the Chamber of Deputies, Palazzo Montecitorio, Rome

It is indeed an honour for me to be here today celebrating this important anniversary for our Union and its achievements over the past 60 years.

As Speaker of the Parliament of the Member State holding the rotating Presidency of the Council allow me to start my address by underlining briefly the importance of the parliamentary dimension. I believe that the relevance of the European Union depends on its democratic legitimacy. The growth and development over the years of the various inter-parliamentary fora in which all our parliaments are active is evidence of the fact that national parliaments and the European Parliament have become an integral part of the European decision-making structure, linking the citizens – who we represent – to the place where decisions are taken.

The result of the Eurobarometer Survey of 2015 showing that 84% of the Maltese population feel like citizens of the European Union reflects a convergence of attitudes in this respect.

The same survey shows that in 25 Member States the majority of the respondents are of the opinion that future challenges can be faced better from within the European Union than from outside. As encouraging as this may seem, the Union also finds itself for the first time in its history on the eve of the first formal withdrawal notification of one of its Members. This is uncharted territory for everyone and its impact is hard to predict at this stage.

However, we must not allow this backdrop to cast a dark shadow over the astounding achievements that we are celebrating together here today. Only a few days ago, the European Commission launched its White Paper on the Future of Europe ahead of the March Council. This is an important document which provides a good analysis of where our Union started and the situation it finds itself in today. The approach of indicating five possible courses of action has been criticised as maybe not being bold enough and as not being clear what the preferred option of the Commission is. Whilst admittedly this White Paper lacks the clear direction that some of us could have been hoping for, it goes a long way in setting out different scenarios that could result depending on the decisions taken. I believe that the cautious approach of encouraging debate rather than prescribing the course of action is a sensible one.

As I remarked at the beginning, parliaments have gained a significant position in the European decision-making process. The broad consultation on the future of Europe proposed by President Juncker including national parliaments is thus commended; each one of us here is duty-bound to facilitate and promote this process in our respective Chambers.

On this 60th anniversary we should not forget where this Union started from and the efforts that were required to get here. The fact that many of us were not even born when the Rome Treaty was signed exactly 60 years ago means that most of us were lucky to be born in the longest period of lasting peace in a region that has been historically fraught by countless wars. By itself, this achievement is one that we cannot but be proud of. It was this lasting peace which enabled the unprecedented economic and social progress of the European Union and the establishment of the single market which remains the cornerstone of the Union.

I would like to conclude by referring to the words of a young Maltese gentleman, Larkin Zahra, who back in 2012 participated in an online competition concerning the meaning of peace in Europe. His winning entry was brief, but in my opinion conveys a very powerful message on what peace in Europe stands for. His words, “My grandparents would have said ‘a dream’. My parents would have said ‘a process’. I say that it’s my everyday reality!” are simple yet effective. It reminds us that what some of us take for granted was only possible thanks to the vision and hard work of our forefathers. This should also be our motivation at this critical juncture for our Union.

The final message I would like to draw from Larkin’s inspiring words is that we should listen to our youth, as that is where our future, and that of the Union, lies. We must make sure that we leave a better world than what we found for the younger generations as they are the ones who will be taking our dreams forward and making them a reality for the generations to come.

Source: Government of Malta