On Monday, March 6, 2017 the Riksdag Committee on European Union Affairs visited MEUSAC’s office in Valletta where they met with Head of MEUSAC Dr Vanni Xuereb, Head of EU Policy and Legislation Mr Kurt Formosa, Head of EU Funding Ms Mandy Falzon and Manager of Communications and Events Mr Joe Sciberras.
In a nutshell, the Riksdag is the national legislature and the supreme decision-making body of Sweden, the equivalent of Malta’s Parliament. The Swedish government – which is responsible for negotiations with the EU and participates in the Council of Ministers - consults with the Committee on European Union Affairs.
On his part, Dr Vanni Xuereb gave an insight of the political scenario in Malta and the electoral system. He also spoke about MEUSAC’s set-up and its roles, including the EU Policy and Legislation part which involves consultation and information sessions for the various stakeholders and the public prior to decisions taken by the EU and EU funding which assists NGOs and local councils seek a suitable funding programme while also assisting them in the application process.
Dr Xuereb referred to a Eurobarometer Survey which shows that Malta is one of the countries whose citizens strongly support the EU and the euro.
He said that for instance, 77% of Europeans living in Malta support the European currency, the euro, compared to the EU average of 58%. A staggering 82% of Europeans living in Malta feel they are EU citizens. The EU average is 67%.
“We have a challenge not to become complacent however,” he said, making reference to the case of The Netherlands whose citizens traditionally favoured the EU but a number of factors were now turning the tide of public opinion.
Dr Xuereb said that where LGBTIQ issues are concerned, Malta was now among the leading countries in the EU due to legislation it passed in favour of the LGBTIQ community. He highlighted that where gender equality is concerned, Malta needed to work harder to get more women to join the workforce.
He also referred to the recent announcement made by the Maltese government that all the available EU structural and cohesion funds were utilised successfully.
Dr Xuereb spoke about European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s five-point plan for the future of the EU, emphasising on the fact that a debate on the European Project’s future is needed.