The EPP meeting in Malta

The EPP Group is the political family in which my colleague, David Casa, and myself sit in the European Parliament on behalf of our party, the Nationalist Party.

The challenge remains on shaping the right kind of Europe
- Simon Busuttil

As you read this article some 40 colleagues from the EPP Group’s inner circle, the Bureau, are arriving in Malta for a two-day meeting that will take place between tomorrow and Friday.

The Bureau is made up of the president and vice-presidents of the group, along with the heads of each of the 26 national delegations that form part of the EPP.

The EPP has the largest and widest representation in EU countries and only the UK is not represented in our political family.

The meeting is bringing together EPP members of the European Parliament with Prime Ministers, politicians from the Arab World, thinkers and other stakeholders to discuss two issues that require some serious and urgent thinking.

These are the future of Europe’s economic and monetary union and the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

The debate on the future of Europe’s economic and monetary union comes at a time when a number of EU countries are still struggling with the effects of the financial crisis. The focus will be on whether Europe needs to forge a closer bond in the form of a federation of member states to deal with the current crisis and to prevent it from happening again or whether it should look at other solutions.

Last September, the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, proposed the gradual establishment of a Federation of European Nation States in his State of the Union address. His proposal has raised brows and provoked much debate and study, as it should.

In Malta, this debate will be addressed by the EPP’s chairman, Joseph Daul, and by two Prime Ministers – Lawrence Gonzi and Antonis Samaras of Greece.

Gonzi will provide the perspective of a member state that has, so far, handled the financial crisis well.

Samaras, on the other hand, will give his first-hand experience of what he is doing to lead a beleaguered member state out of it.

His is a herculean task and there is a lot to be learnt from the Greek experience and how to avoid it happening here or elsewhere.

The second theme will focus on the challenges that Europe is facing in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

The keynote speaker will be Mahmoud Jibril, who was one of the key figures in the revolution in Libya and who now is the leader of the Libyan National Forces Alliance.

Jibril is known to us and to the entire world as the face of the Libyan revolution and his inner strength and courage in the face of adversity are an immense source of inspiration. It will be a pleasure to see him here in Malta once again and to hear what he has to say on how Libya can stand back up on its own feet.

The Moroccan Minister of Economy and Finance, Nizar Baraka, will also be in Malta to help us understand how his country has faced its own, thankfully non-violent, Arab Spring.

MEPs from the EPP Group and thinkers from political foundations and think tanks will be contributing to all the discussions and President Emeritus Eddie Fenech Adami, who was earlier this year awarded the Schuman Medal by the EPP, will be a keynote speaker in an evening session. This week’s high profile meeting is significant on two levels.

Firstly, because it proves that the EPP Group, which the PN forms part of, is keen on tackling head-on the most difficult challenges that Europe and our Mediterranean region are facing. And to study and discuss tangible solutions that can be shared as widely as possible.

This thinking process is crucial. It explains why our political family comes up with rational solutions to serious problems, based on common European values, rather than allow itself to indulge in populism and short-termism merely to play on people’s fears. It is this kind of politics that I subscribe to.

Secondly, the EPP presence in this particular week is important because of the symbolism that the timing carries.

Malta has just faced an unexpected shock in the European institutions. But the EPP has been with us throughout, supporting us in this difficult moment.

Little wonder that, this week, the EPP was in full force in its support for Tonio Borg during his hearing yesterday in the European Parliament.

This is not a one-off. The EPP has been there for our country since Malta was on the brink of dictatorship. It also shares our values and I can attest to that. In turn, our country has entrusted the EPP with two of its MEPs.

The EPP has been a driving force in Europe for decades and it has spawned European politicians that have been unstinting in encouraging European unity and urging European countries to face global challenges together, acting collectively, rather than on their own.

This vision stands unabated. And it is no coincidence that this week’s EPP meetings in Malta come under the theme of The Answer Is More Europe.

But the challenge remains on shaping the right kind of Europe.

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Dr Busuttil is a Nationalist MEP.


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