On this page you can access the main hot European topics / themes that are of importance to the Maltese.
2011 is the European Year of Volunteering.
The European Year of Volunteering is both a celebration and a challenge. It is a celebration of the commitment of millions of people in Europe who work in their communities during their free time without being paid – for example in schools, hospitals, and sports clubs, protecting the environment, providing social services and helping people in other countries. Their efforts and those of the many thousands of volunteering organisations make a huge difference to our lives in countless ways. The world would be much worse off without volunteers! The EYV is also a challenge to the three-quarters of the European population who do not do any volunteering. We would like to say to them that they can also make a difference.
Why volunteering matters:
Volunteers are the agents of European values and objectives as laid down in the Treaties, in particular in terms of promoting social cohesion, solidarity, and active participation – theirs are the hands that translate these values into action, day after day;
Volunteering contributes to building a European identity rooted in these values and towards attaining a mutual understanding between people in society and across Europe;
Volunteering in its horizontal nature is indispensable in a wide range of EU policy areas such as social inclusion, the provision of life-long learning opportunities for all, policies affecting young people, inter-generational dialogue, active aging, integration of migrants, intercultural dialogue, civil protection, humanitarian aid and development, sustainable development and environmental protection, human rights, social service delivery, raising employability, the promotion of an active European citizenship, fighting the "digital gap", and within corporate social responsibility;
Volunteering is an economic factor. The voluntary sector contributes an estimated 5% to the GDP of our national economies;
Volunteers and their organisations are at the forefront of developing innovative actions to detect, voice and respond to needs arising in society.
Volunteers mirror the diversity of European society with people of all ages, women and men, employees and unemployed, people from different ethnic backgrounds and belief groups and finally citizens from all nationalities being involved.
The European Commission has launched the Europe 2020 Strategy to go out of
the crisis and prepare EU economy for the next decade. The Commission
identifies three key drivers for growth, to be implemented through concrete
actions at EU and national levels: smart growth (fostering knowledge,
innovation, education and digital society), sustainable growth (making our
production more resource efficient while boosting our competitiveness) and
inclusive growth (raising participation in the labour market, the acquisition
of skills and the fight against poverty). This battle for growth and jobs
requires ownership at top political level and mobilisation from all actors
across Europe. Five targets are set which define where the EU should be by 2020
and against which progress can be tracked.
President Barroso said, "Europe 2020 is about what we need to do today
and tomorrow to get the EU economy back on track. The crisis has exposed
fundamental issues and unsustainable trends that we can not ignore any longer.
Europe has a growth deficit which is putting our future at risk. We must
decisively tackle our weaknesses and exploit our many strengths. We need to
build a new economic model based on knowledge, low-carbon economy and high
employment levels. This battle requires mobilisation of all actors across
Protecting, preserving and improving the world around
The EU has some of the highest environment standards in the world, developed
over decades to address a wide range of issues. Today the main priorities are
combating climate change, preserving biodiversity, reducing health problems
from pollution and using natural resources more responsibly. While aimed at
protecting the environment, these goals can contribute to economic growth by
fostering innovation and enterprise.
Addressing illegal immigration has been a central part of the EU's common
immigration policy since its inception in 1999. The Treaty of Amsterdam created
Community competences in this field with regulations relating to border
controls and visa policy, and measures on illegal immigration and the
repatriation of illegal residents.
In particular, in its 2001 Communication on a common policy on illegal
immigration, the Commission announced its intention to "address the issue
of illegal immigration with a comprehensive approach" that targets measures
encompassing the different stages of the migration process. The three 2002
Council Action Plans on illegal immigration, border controls and return listed
such a comprehensive set of measures and actions. In July 2006 the Commission
has adopted a wide-ranging communication on illegal immigration which takes
stock of the progress made in fighting illegal immigration and identifies the
EU´s policy priorities in this important area.
The euro is the single currency shared by (currently) 16 of the European
Union's Member States, which together make up the euro area. The introduction
of the euro in 1999 was a major step in European integration. It has also been
one of its major successes: around 329 million EU citizens now use it as their
currency and enjoy its benefits, which will spread even more widely as other EU
countries adopt the euro.
When the euro was launched on 1 January 1999, it became the new official
currency of 11 Member States, replacing the old national currencies – such as
the Deutschmark and the French franc – in two stages. First introduced as a
virtual currency for cash-less payments and accounting purposes, while the old
currencies continued to be used for cash payments and considered as 'sub-units'
of the euro, it then appeared in physical form, as banknotes and coins, on 1
January 2002. The euro is not the currency of all EU Member States. Two
countries (Denmark and the United Kingdom) agreed an ‘opt-out’ clause in the
Treaty exempting them from participation, while the remainder (many of the
newest EU members plus Sweden) have yet to meet the conditions for adopting the
single currency. Once they do so, they will replace their national currency
with the euro.