Fabian Demicoli

Europe Direct Valletta Office launched


GRTU, as host
of a Europe Direct Information Centre (EDIC,) together with the European
Commission Representation in Malta inaugurated the new Europe Direct Valletta's
office. Paul Abela, GRTU President,
opened the event by stating how honoured the GRTU is to host this office and
thanked the Commission for this opportunity.

He referred to the last
citizenship survey conducted by the EU, where 76% of the Maltese said they feel
European, 53% said they feel they are aware of their rights as EU citizens, and
75% stated they would like to know more about such rights. These figures are all above
the EU average. Mr Abela said that communicating Europe is something the GRTU
has been doing for a long time with enterprises and now, with the new office,
it will be targeting the citizen in general. He reminded, however, that within
enterprises there are still citizens, consumers, workers and families.

A presentation on Europe Direct
Valletta was delivered by Abigail Psaila Mamo, who is responsible for the
office. There are 500 centers for 500 million citizens across the whole of the
EU. Malta has 3 offices and these offices are funded by the European Commission
as part of its efforts to be closer to citizens, inform citizens directly on
what the EU is doing, and to gather feedback from citizens. Among the services
offered by Europe Direct Valletta, which are all free of charge, there is a
dedicated area equipped with IT facilities and internet access, a website that
is user-friendly, and appealing, a Facebook page, a newsletter, and space where
activities can be held.

GRTU's Director General, Vincent
Farrugia, said that GRTU's work on the EU is already very intensive and thanks
to its membership on the EESC, it also represents and communicates to the
Maltese directly. He said that another recent opportunity included GRTU's
direct lobbying on the Framework Agreement on Youth Employment at European
level.

Mr Martin Bugelli, Head of the
European Commission Representation in Malta, said that rights are meaningful
only when citizens are informed about them and when access to such information
is ensured. He pointed out that the EDICs were chosen not only on the
basis of geographic coverage but also according to the nature of the audience
the host organisations reach. Recently, a Europe Direct Information Centre was
launched in Gozo, and another is expected to be launched shortly in Malta's
central region. He said he was convinced that the team at GRTU has the will and
the capabilities to deliver on its task as a Europe Direct Centre. Mr Bugelli
also mentioned that this is the European Year of Citizens and referred to the
coordinated initiatives being undertaken by the European Commission
Representation, together with the European Parliament Information Office and
MEUSAC.

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