A fair, free and sus­tain­able Europe is pos­si­ble – Joseph Mus­cat

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

A fair free and sus­tain­able Europe is pos­si­ble, said Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat dur­ing the Party of Euro­pean So­cial­ists 2018 Congress.

Ad­dress­ing the event, he spoke about work and the se­cond in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, which stems from Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence. “The great suc­cesses from our move­ment came from when we broke with the past. If we were the mu­sic in­dus­try, we would not hope that peo­ple would go back to us­ing a Walk­man. We have to be the Spo­tify of pol­i­tics, not the Walk­man. We are mod­els, and there are mod­els even in pol­i­tics – in pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics – that work, es­pe­cially if we un­der­stand the his­toric mo­ment we are in, work­ing with those who want Europe to move for­ward, who want unity.”

The Prime Min­is­ter high­lighted the fact that, in the past, some of the Party of Euro­pean So­cial­ist politi­cians were too self-ab­sorbed in de­bates, which meant lit­tle to fam­i­lies strug­gling to make ends meet. “We were talk­ing to the mir­ror while real peo­ple were ask­ing dif­fer­ent ques­tions.

“Oth­ers were giv­ing the an­swers – wrong ones and over-sim­plis­tic ones, but most of the time they were the only an­swers around. Peo­ple’s lives can­not wait for politi­cians to get their act to­gether.” Re­fer­ring to the past, he said that the in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion had made work more ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple. “Peo­ple or­gan­ised them­selves into trade unions and there was so­cial mo­bil­ity. It was the best boost for the so­cial mid­dle class.

“Over time, this cre­ated mid­dle Europe. In­versely, we must ac­knowl­edge that the new in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion was spear­headed by AI risks, de­priv­ing the mid­dle class of what it had achieved. The in­stinct is to re­sist or op­pose change,” he said, adding that “dur­ing the dawn of the in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, there was a small group of work­ers who went to fac­to­ries to smash machin­ery they be­lieved was tak­ing jobs, but their vic­to­ries were short-lived. We pro­gres­sives were al­ways for change and not against it. In­stead of ig­nor­ing or post­pon­ing it, we must em­brace and har­ness it. We must seek an­swers to is­sues that de­fine the next gen­er­a­tion.”

Mus­cat said that a pol­i­tics of pro­gres­sive dis­rup­tion is one where we chal­lenge, sur­prise and pro­voke. “We should not fear to do so in all ar­eas out­side our com­fort zone. When a Con­ser­va­tive steals one of our good ideas, he or she is called smart. But when one us takes a sen­si­ble pol­icy from else­where we call them a traitor. If we want to suc­ceed, we must go where we think we can­not go. We must not be afraid to ven­ture on eco­nomic gov­er­nance. We must speak about hu­man rights, about crime and se­cu­rity. If peo­ple speak to us about Europe, it does not mean we love our coun­try less. We want it to be stronger and work­ing with oth­ers and not go­ing it alone makes us stronger.

“As the small­est EU state, we are mak­ing the case for pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics,” said the Prime Min­is­ter, “and our pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics and eco­nomic model works for our cit­i­zens. The small­est EU state is the one that has reg­is­tered the high­est rate of eco­nomic growth: 7.5 per cent in a sin­gle quar­ter. We have the best per­form­ing econ­omy in Europe, which is run by pro­gres­sives, and we have the se­cond low­est un­em­ploy­ment rate.

“And all this as we are clos­ing the third con­sec­u­tive year with a fis­cal sur­plus, and we have in­creased pen­sions and the min­i­mum wage. We have done this by believ­ing in busi­ness as an im­por­tant en­gine of the econ­omy. We should not fear talk­ing about busi­nesses, and we should em­power in­di­vid­u­als who fall be­hind by mak­ing it eas­ier for them to work and earn a liv­ing.

“Women used to stay at home be­cause child­care costs were the sin­gle big­gest bar­rier to their en­try into the labour mar­ket,” said Mus­cat. “We in­tro­duced free child care for par­ents who work. All school­ing and school trans­port is now free, which has led to an in­crease in the num­ber of women in the labour mar­ket.

“Their in­de­pen­dence makes it eas­ier for women in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships to leave,” he said. “We in­tro­duced the world’s most pro­gres­sive leg­is­la­tion on gen­der iden­tity and in­tro­duced the x marker in doc­u­ments. Equal­ity be­came a main­stay in all laws and Malta ranks first in the Rain­bow Europe in­dex.

“We took our pol­i­tics on LGBTIQ rights to Europe, and 18 coun­tries joined Malta’s ini­tia­tive push­ing the EU com­mis­sion to give more rights to LGBTIQ per­sons across Europe,” he said. “This is the kind of pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics that Europe needs. Let us stand to­gether to fight the bar­ri­ers in pol­i­tics, with pol­i­tics of unity and hope. A fair, free and sus­tain­able Europe is pos­si­ble.”

While he re­ceived ap­plaud from sec­tions of the crowd dur­ing his speech, S&D MEP Ana Gomes could be heard yelling out 'cor­rup­tion'and 'shame' when he orig­i­nally took the stage.

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