Fabian Demicoli

Power to the People By Andrew Rizzo Naudi – Student reading a Bachelor Degree in European Studies


These have been
turbulent times for the European Union with the rise in unemployment and the
increasing gap between the Chinese and European economies. Euroscepticism has
risen in most EU Member States, with the Greeks and Spanish surpassing the UK's
rate of Euroscepticism (Eurobarometer 2012).
 

Of course, this does not come at
such a surprise when considering Greece's economic problems and the fact that
Spain's unemployment rate currently stands at around 26%. Greece is the
incumbent of the EU rotating Presidency and has dedicated a record-low budget
of €50 million – a figure that even Malta is capable of exceeding.

The fact
that these problems still continue to persist today only points out the
importance of active citizenship and involvement in EU initiatives. The
European Parliament is of course a vital EU institution as it represents each
and every EU citizen and allows MEPs to convey national and supranational
issues to European leaders. Take, for instance, the recent Citizenship debate
in which MEPs David Casa and Roberta Metsola made their distaste of the
citizenship scheme clear, whilst Maltese MEPs from the S&D EP Group
defended the scheme. Thus, whether you are in favour or against particular issues,
your opinion is being voiced through these MEPs.

Recent
episodes in Syria, Libya, Turkey, Egypt and Ukraine have shown that citizens
must speak up sooner rather than later. Jamaican civil rights activist Marcus
Garvey once said that "a people without the knowledge of their past history,
origin and culture is like a tree without roots." One must not forget the
hardship that Europe had constantly suffered, especially during the Second
World War. It was this exact hardship that motivated the creation of the European
Coal and Steel Community, which came to force in 1952. The events of extremists
coming to power should be avoided at all costs. Today the EU still continues to
fly the flag of peace as more countries are working towards becoming Member
States, despite the ongoing crisis. Therefore, something is definitely being
done right. Furthermore, whilst the past is significant, the future is full of
possibilities. It is youth that drives the future, with its motivation,
optimism and excitement. Therefore it is essential that young European voters
make an informed choice in the upcoming European Parliamentary elections.

Despite
the consistent decrease in turnout in the MEP elections, Malta's voting turnout
has suffered a less dramatic fall – from 82.39% in 2004 to 78.79% in 2009. This
could mirror the rise in Euroscepticism and the unfortunate reality that when
things appear to be going badly, many citizens turn their backs on the European
project. It should be reiterated that this should actually motivate citizens to
make their voices heard now and not in some distant, unknown future. Whatever
your political stance, these upcoming elections hand you the opportunity to act
and make a difference to the Union and influence what it stands for.

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