PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT: Visit by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the College of Commissioners

I urge you to make the European Union a place where the dignity, the peace, and the wellbeing of all is effectively and truly central

This was the message which President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca relayed to the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker who is on an official visit to Malta with the College of Commissioners.

President Coleiro Preca shared her vision of the need for a more united Europe, stating that for meaningful unity to be achieved and nurtured we need a stronger European Union.

We need a European Union for the people

Reiterating what she had stated during the visit of the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz in December 2016, the President said that we need a European Union which is socially conscious, strongly democratic, embedded in solidarity, and which prioritises the wellbeing of every member of our diverse communities and societies.

Denoting the challenges which are currently being experienced across the Union, in terms of its economic, social, and political life, President Coleiro Preca said that these challenges offer an unprecedented opportunity for deep-rooted review and, where necessary, reform.

I urge you to take this chance to adapt the structures and instruments of our Union, so that they can fully embrace the real concerns of all those who call Europe their home, the President said.

Our traditions embody our core values, which we make tangible when we safeguard universal human dignity, when we protect universal human rights, and when we celebrate universal human freedoms.

Speaking about our traditions, the President said that these embody our core values, values which are made tangible when universal human dignity is safeguarded; when universal human rights are protected; and when universal human freedoms are celebrated. The President said that securing a meaningful reform of the Union must not mean a break with our traditions.

At a time when different interpretations of the European project and its future are being proposed, with voices calling for walls to be built, for borders to be reinforced and for divisions to be reasserted, President Coleiro Preca appealed to all those present and said that we cannot be silent or complicit when so much is at stake, whilst adding that we must remind one another of the important gains we have made.

Such gains have been made, the President said, in terms of the bridges which have been built to unite us; the friendships which have been made across our borders; and our solidarity, which we have nurtured in the service of peace.

There is precious little talk of the ‘Founding Mothers’ of Europe

Referring to the point which some people make when saying that a return to the values of our Founding Fathers is what is needed, the President reminded those present of the fact that there is precious little talk of the ‘Founding Mothers’ of Europe, stating that there is much we should learn from the example of Europe’s women, such as the Founder of the European Union of Women, Dr Lola Solar, who had, in 1953, already recognised the fundamental importance of a cultural synergy between the different political and economic ambitions of the respective countries.

The most essential message of our founders is their great awareness of the need for friendship, for solidarity, and for peaceful collaboration amongst us all.

President Coleiro Preca echoed once more her belief that the spirit of solidarity must be present throughout our lives. She said that solidarity must begin with our individual choices, percolating up from our families and our communities, into our societies, our institutions, and across our nations.

The power of the individual, as a catalyst for transformation, cannot be underestimated.

The President said that we are the ones who must begin to make a difference, by rejecting the structural oppressions which have resulted in one in four people within the European Union to live at risk of poverty or exclusion, according to the latest data from Eurostat.

The President also said that without a Union which prioritises the emotional, psychological, physical and cultural wellbeing of its citizens, there can be no positive change towards greater equity, peace and prosperity.

We cannot allow certain individuals and communities to go on being systematically excluded, even if they are not the majority, from full and equitable participation in the life of our Union. This will only create environments of hostility, which will result in potential extremism and violence’, the President stated.

President Coleiro Preca stressed that exclusion cannot be tolerated, irrespective of whether it was brought about by economic precarity, by social marginalistion and stigma, by displacement, or by the inequality experienced by certain individuals because of their faith traditions, their gender identity, or their sexual orientation.

The Founders of the Union worked to build peace and solidarity through our economic collaborations, in order to lessen social tensions and reduce poverty.

The President reminded the members of the College of Commissioners that it is their responsibility to ensure that such collaborations continue, while also ensuring that the social values of Europe are reflected in the social and cultural lives of our communities and nations; she also said that they must revitalise the European Project by ensuring that the institutions are connected to the aspirations of the European peoples, whilst adding that Europe’s institutions must reflect the principles of social inclusion.

We must work together to make our European family of nations a better place, where dialogue replaces division; where friendship triumphs over suspicion; where peace speaks more strongly than hostility, President Coleiro Preca said.

Finally, the President urged the College of Commissioners to make the European Union a place where solidarity is the defining characteristic of our European identity, and an inheritance of lasting benefit for both present and future generations.

Source: Government of Malta