Paving the way for a better Europe

Article written by Neil Portelli – Director, EU Policy and Legislation, MEUSAC
Published on MaltaToday – 22/05/2019

On May 9, EU Heads of State and government across the EU-27 (excluding the United Kingdom) came together for an informal European Council meeting in Sibiu, Romania. They key objective was to discuss plans for the European Union in the coming years, particularly with the elections of the European Parliament set to take place just two weeks after the Sibiu summit.

Discussions focused on a Strategic Agenda for the EU for the years 2019-2024, which took into account both the internal and external dimensions of the EU. The agenda would determine the work programme which is to be adopted by the new European Commission, as it is set to be appointed after the conclusion of the European Parliament elections.

The agenda sets out various priorities intended to guide the work of the EU over the next five years, which include the protection of citizens and freedoms, continuing the development of the EU’s economic base, building a greener future, and promoting European interests at a global level.

At the end of the meeting, leaders adopted the Sibiu Declaration to mark Member States’ unity and confidence in the future of the European project. Through the declaration, EU leaders committed themselves to staying united, upholding the principle of fairness in all aspects of the economy and social welfare, and in safeguarding the future of the next generations of Europeans.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was also present for the Sibiu summit. He noted that the EU should always push forward principles which bring European citizens closer together, rather than issues which tend to be more divisive. Dr Muscat also said that national interests can still be achieved through the support of the EU, and that the two concepts were not necessarily exclusive of one another.

In this context, MEUSAC also played an important role in engaging with citizens on the future of the EU. In 2018, MEUSAC, in conjunction with the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality, was responsible for organising a series of consultations with citizens on various subjects, including agriculture, migration, and social convergence. The contributions of citizens during these events formed part of a final report which accounted for the feedback of European citizens across the EU27. This feedback was integral towards outlining the priorities put forward in the Strategic Agenda.

The results of the European elections will mark the beginning of the next five years for the EU, and will see the appointment of a new European Commission, as well as the leaders of the European Council and the European Parliament. EU leaders will meet again on May 28 in Brussels to discuss the outcome of the vote and kick-start the nomination process for the heads of the EU institutions.

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