We want to get closer to citizens - this is why the Commission decided on Citizens' Dialogues. If politicians influence citizens' lives with their policies, they also need to listen to their concerns and expectations
- Commissioner Karmenu Vella -
Citizens' Dialogue in La Valletta, Malta
On 1 October, La Valletta hosted a Citizens' Dialogue with Commissioner Corina Crețu and Commissioner Karmenu Vella. A broad range of topics were touched upon during the intensive debate, including growth and jobs, Structural Funds, the Investment Plan, the refugee crisis as well as questions concerning fisheries, environment protection, organic agriculture and circular economy. Maltese citizens were very knowledgeable not just about Maltese politics, but also about policies pursued by the EU in several areas.
A one and a half hours intense debate took place between Commissioner Crețu, Commissioner Vella and an audience of about 100 participants during a Citizens' Dialogue organised in La Valletta.
Commissioner Vella kicked-off the debate by explaining that "although citizens are represented by their Members of the European Parliament, and different NGOs advocate the interests of civil society, we wanted to go one step further, so we have come from Brussels to meet you and put a face to the Commission."
Commissioner Crețu continued by underlining the need for more solidarity and building on the values on which the EU was founded. She argued that "in Europe there are around 25 million people without jobs, it is our moral duty to move towards growth and jobs, which is our most important priority for the years to come".
Responding to various concerns on the environment, in particular on waste management, Commissioner Vella referred to the circular economy and the importance of recycling which will not only help the EU to be more environmentally friendly, but also more competitive.
Questions from participants touched upon the role of the EU as a global player. Commissioner Vella talked about how the EU played its role to protect people's health, safety and the environment when negotiating with third parties. He mentioned in this respect the protection of bio-diversity, the control of invasive species in relation to the widening of the Suez Canal, and the upholding of high EU standards during the TTIP negotiations.
Talking about the Maltese situation, Commissioner Crețu described how the Structural Funds supported education and research, as well as infrastructure and environment, including waste management in Malta. Commissioner Vella added that the Investment Plan will complement Structural Funds, and will target the private sector, also providing a boost to small and medium-sized enterprises.
At the end of the constructive and dynamic Dialogue, both Commissioners took time to go around and spoke individually with the participants.
The event in La Valletta was part of a series of Citizens' Dialogues that involve the whole European Commission and take place in all EU Member States.