MEUSAC investing in itself to invest in European citizens

Article published on The Malta Independent – 24.12.18

MEUSAC’s primary objective is to bring the European Union closer to its citizens. After it was re-activated a decade ago, it was entrusted with three main functions, namely, to manage the consultation process with the civil society on EU policies and laws, to disseminate EU-related information and to assist national and local governments and NGOs in obtaining EU Funds.

In order to ensure that the service provided by MEUSAC continues to meet the demands of European citizens, MEUSAC is currently undertaking an extensive exercise with various stakeholders to identify the most effective engagement methods to provide a better service to stakeholders reflecting the different facets of the Maltese sectors. This project is part-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF).

The ESF is regarded as Europe’s main tool for promoting employment and social inclusion, assisting European citizens in getting better jobs, integrating citizens which are not on the same level playing field into the various societies of the Member States and ensuring that fairer life opportunities are accessible to all. This is achieved through the investment the EU is allocating for its citizens and their indispensable skills. In fact, approximately 10 million people benefit from this fund yearly.

This is of utmost importance because in the short term, the EU is seeking to mitigate the aftermath of the economic crisis, including the upsurge in unemployment and poverty across Europe. While in the longer term, it is regarded as a process forming part of the EU’s strategy to remodel its economy and tap into new markets with the underlying intention of not only creating jobs, but to harbour an inclusive society.

The ESF strategy and budget are negotiated by the EU governments, the European Parliament and the European Commission, into a seven-year Operational Programme that is ultimately approved by the latter. For this period, namely, 2014-2020, nearly €80 billion were allocated for the ESF, with the aim of improving education, training, quality and quantity of work, while further promoting inclusion.

MEUSAC benefitted from the funds allocated for this period, in fact, it was awarded over €134,000 in EU funds to implement a project entitled ‘ENGAGE: Enhancing Stakeholder Participation in Social Dialogue’. This project stemmed from MEUSAC’s function of participating in the national consultative processes involving stakeholders, primarily, social partners and civil society.

In a nutshell, the objectives of this project are the following: to identify the most effective engagement methodologies in order to provide a service which meets the needs of stakeholders; to invest further in the services provided by the Government by providing the necessary skills to MEUSAC employees on how stakeholder capacity can be enhanced; and, to enhance the capacity of stakeholders through training and increased awareness on the processes, tools and opportunities for increased stakeholder participation.

To do so, MEUSAC started by conducting a stakeholder engagement analysis to assess the type of services offered, which services might need to be improved or essentially introduced to assist the Government in playing an active role in facilitating stakeholder engagement in Malta.  Such an assessment will lead MEUSAC to have a better picture of how it is perceived by stakeholders and build a new action plan to improve its services based on such response.

MEUSAC has also embarked on an extensive media campaign to strengthen social dialogue through knowledge, both regarding the needs of stakeholders and on the best methodologies to be adopted ensuring awareness and engagement in the EU decision-making process.

With regards to MEUSAC’s employee skills, a study visit was held in Brussels with various European institutions and the Permanent Representation of Malta to the EU. MEUSAC had the opportunity to discuss both the issues that it continuously faces, but at the same time, the best way forward. This activity lead MEUSAC staff to gain first-hand knowledge and hands-on experience from organisations directly involved in the EU decision-making process which directly relates to MEUSAC’s daily work.

As a result, due to this networking, MEUSAC facilitated contact-making with key persons while also bilaterally committed with key bodies to cooperate closer in disseminating information about the EU affairs to the public and other stakeholders. Simultaneously, MEUSAC managed to show the necessity of having an agency with its roles, further marking the necessity of future communication and cooperation between Malta as a Member State and the EU.

Should you require more information about this project, kindly visit meusac.gov.mt or call on 2200 3300.

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