What is good for one is not good for the other. Not for everyone the construction of a new Europe is a reason for triumph. The gap between European citizens and the EU is increasingly being spoken about and this presents a real problem for political leaders. But there are countries where interest in the European family is at a record high.
Large countries that are trying to arouse the interest of their citizens in the EU can envy Malta. 10 years ago, only 53% of its citizens voted in a referendum for joining the EU. Today’s polls suggest that Maltese are more Europeans than other EU citizens. They are optimistic about the future of the bloc and are confident that they will reckon with their voice.
During the European elections in 2009, the turnout in Malta was the highest among countries where voting is not compulsory.
We met with Vivienne Bajada, a public relations specialist. She represents the camp of those Maltese who support a united Europe. Vivien actively participates in various dialogue events.
“This is the idea of interacting with people abroad who have interests similar to yours, who want to see Europe successful, who want the EU member states to succeed. And when you discuss problems with different people, it becomes very clear that the Maltese and other Europeans have the same tastes and the same problems. ”
Vivienne is one of those who recently attended a dialogue seminar of European citizens. This year, dozens of such meetings were held in cities and towns across Europe. In this way, Brussels encourages local discussions about the future of the European Union.
In Malta, people are not shy about expressing their opinion:
“Of course, there are some short-term issues that need to be addressed, but being in a union, being part of a large family is very good. There are clear economic benefits. ”
“Some taxes have risen. But this is right, because Europe has helped us in the field of employment and infrastructure. Much has been done in Malta thanks to Europe. ”
“We have moved quite seriously forward, we had to comply with certain rules and regulations, and this benefited the country.”
“I have nothing against other people, because we are all Europeans. But I think that Europe is a club for the rich and Malta does not really fit in here. In my opinion, Malta was mistaken in joining the EU. After all, the cost of living has risen in price. ”
Today, the country’s Prime Minister supports Malta’s membership in the European Union, although only 10 years ago he was categorically against it. Experts unanimously argue that for Malta, with its population of 420 thousand people, the economic benefits of EU membership are undeniable.
“I think that there is a correlation between economic indicators, national economic indicators, on the one hand, and support for Europe, on the other. And the Maltese economy is doing well. And if everything is good enough with the economy, this partly explains why EU support is so high in Malta. ”
There is support, despite growing concerns about illegal immigration. After all, Malta in this sense is on the front line of the front.
Other experts argue that interest in Europe is reinforced by the fact that Malta is a highly politicized country where public awareness of all key issues is extremely high.
Discussions on European issues are encouraged in the country, where citizens, expressing their concern over certain problems, receive a large flow of information about their rights and benefits.
Here in Malta, studies show that many still do not know enough about their European rights.
In the capital of the country, Valletta, we met with people who regularly participate in information meetings organized by the European Commission. That’s what such meetings were told to us by the head of the EU mission in Malta.
“It is useless to speak immediately to everyone and about everything. In the end, there will be no one to talk to. We try to deal with small groups of people, to discuss narrow specific topics with them, concerning only them. If these are businessmen, then we are talking about access to finance; with those involved in the tourism industry, we talk about the benefits of health insurance; communicating with young people, we talk about the benefits of having roaming. That is, we always try to identify people by interests and discuss their specific problems with them. ”
According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, Malta is ranked second in the number of people who feel that they are EU citizens. Such 81%. Only Luxembourg has the best rate.
At the bottom of the table are: Bulgaria, Great Britain, Cyprus and Greece. In these countries, less than half the population perceives themselves as Europeans.
And one more interesting figure – only 28% of Europeans believe that their voice in the European Union is listened to.