Gen­er­a­tional chal­lenge

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Mar­lene Mizzi, MEP Mar­lene Mizzi

As one of the found­ing prin­ci­ples of the Eu­ro­pean Union, the free­dom of move­ment al­low­ing EU ci­ti­zens to move to, live in, and in cer­tain cir­cum­stances ac­cess the wel­fare sys­tem of the EU coun­try to which they move, is – with the sin­gle mar­ket is­sue – per­haps one of the most dis­cussed top­ics in the present Brexit sce­nario. Many con­sider the Schen­gen Agree­ment – where in­ter­nal bor­der checks have been abol­ished – as one of the great­est achieve­ments of the Eu­ro­pean Union. Set against the back­ground of a pre­vail­ing threat from in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism, it is an ob­vi­ous choice of tar­get prac­tice for both crit­ics of and ad­her­ents to the Eu­ro­pean ideal. The Mal­tese el­e­ment in it in­evitably dis­plays the same hue-and-cry char­ac­ter­is­tics when­ever it crops up.

So it is al­ways with this in mind that most of us bring the is­sue up in­side the EU’s var­i­ous in­sti­tu­tions. While ev­ery­one is in­clined to give it the “lo­cal” touch, there is no hid­ing the need to treat it at pan-Eu­ro­pean level by way of not only re­tain­ing the many ben­e­fits and rights free move­ment brings with it, but also en­sur­ing the sys­tem works in a way that en­hances the prospects of greater so­cial mo­bil­ity. This in turn of­fers dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions of EU ci­ti­zens the chance to ob­tain bet­ter ac­cess to job op­por­tu­ni­ties, to ex­pe­ri­ence cul­tural and in­tel­lec­tual en­rich­ment, and to gain a bet­ter so­cial sta­tus for them­selves and their fam­i­lies.

In the rel­a­tively short time that Malta has been an EU mem­ber, its ci­ti­zens have shown they are ready, will­ing and able to be a part of this mas­sive move­ment of peo­ple, with many of them es­tab­lish­ing them­selves as re­li­able, high-rank­ing and in­no­va­tive play­ers on the field of play that cur­rently holds no less than 14 mil­lion other con­tenders.

Mal­tese young men and women to­day seek and suc­cess­fully ex­ploit op­por­tu­ni­ties to study and work in var­i­ous EU mem­ber states re­gard­less of the old adage that tra­di­tion­ally says “there’s no bet­ter place than home”. With prac­ti­cally the whole of Europe as their home, this new gen­er­a­tion of Mal­tese con­tin­ues to dis­tance it­self from the in­su­lar­ity and in­hi­bi­tions of is­lan­der men­tal­ity. Of course they do so with­out prej­u­dice to the idea of find­ing work and ac­cept­ing other so­cial com­mit­ments within Malta’s own thriv­ing econ­omy.

Free­dom of move­ment is a con­cept which, sadly, is of­ten mis­in­ter­preted and mis­con­strued to in­stil fear and to fo­ment rup­ture in light of the over­whelm­ing in­flux of im­mi­grants and refugees – from Africa, the Mid­dle East, Asia and Eastern Europe – that the Con­ti­nent is presently fac­ing. The dilemma for all EU coun­tries is to find a bal­ance be­tween keep­ing their av­enues wide open for their ci­ti­zens while still mak­ing sure bor­der con­trols are op­ti­mised against the en­try of dan­ger­ous el­e­ments that could threaten their se­cu­rity.

The EU has to find the an­swers. This is what our ci­ti­zens ex­pect from us. They rightly clam­our for new ideas and bet­ter so­lu­tions. In fair­ness, most EU in­sti­tu­tions are now geared to­wards en­sur­ing that at­tain­ment, how­ever dif­fi­cult and com­pli­cated it con­tin­ues to be.

Free­dom of move­ment is sacro­sanct to our ev­ery­day busi­ness as MEPs. I know from first hand how ea­ger and en­ter­pris­ing our stu­dents and work­ers can be. It is a suc­cess story that we need to per­pe­trate as we cre­ate a level play­ing-field for all those in­ter­ested in forg­ing ahead into an ever-chang­ing world where it is not the colour of your skin or the tongue that you speak which pro­vide you with job/study op­por­tu­ni­ties and a bet­ter so­cial sta­tus, but your tal­ents, your ap­ti­tude, your self-be­lief and your spirit of en­ter­prise.

It may some­times all sound like a pipedream, but it in fact is a gen­er­a­tional chal­lenge, one that we won’t deny our ci­ti­zens at both na­tional and Eu­ro­pean lev­els. It is a process that has shown it is work­ing. Fine-tun­ing it to fit ac­tual needs and prim­ing it for fur­ther fu­ture suc­cess have to be our tar­gets. The Mal­tese ex­pe­ri­ence thus far spurs us on.

“” The EU has to find the an­swers

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