Well, the media has taken the cat out of the bag to reveal I will not be running again for a European Parliament seat in the May 2019 election. But, and this is a very important but, I hasten to add I still have ample fuel in the tank to take me to the day when I can return to the bosom of my family after proudly representing the Maltese citizen for six very hectic, fruitful and fantastic years at Europe’s highest institution. I experienced a different, refreshing way of how politics are done – politics based on debate, not on continuous confrontation. I have worked with extremely knowledgeable persons from all political groups. I lead Team Mizzi – a group of competent and loyal persons, an integral part of my successes – through the hectic world of parliamentary duties. To these persons I am eternally grateful.

The revelation at this early stage of my decision to hang up my (political) boots may have erroneously given some people the impression I was slipping off a rudderless boat from the shore, when in truth I am determined to keep working faithfully and to the very last minute for the thousands of Maltese voters who had shown their trust in me, giving me the privilege of being Malta’s first woman MEP, in the 2013 European elections. My word is my bible, an expression that I hope best describes my EU mission thus far and will continue to be to the end of my term.

I entered the world of politics nine years ago. By the end of my mandate I would have spent six of those years as Member of the European Parliament. I subscribe to the opinion that if one has to leave a post one leaves when one is travelling at the peak – and that is what I am doing! I informed PM Muscat, as the Leader of the PL, of my decision at the beginning of May. The PM suggested I wait before taking such an important decision … but my mind was made up. It was not a decision taken after many months of deliberation.

Although the electorate is supreme, I had no particular concern that I would not be re-elected had I chosen to stand for the 2019 MEP elections. The electorate knows well who has spoken, nurtured and promoted its interest, and that of its country.

Nor do I have any attachments to the seat of power, or to the handsome MEP financial package.

Speculation as to why a successful politician throws in the towel may be rife, and understandably so. But, there are not alwaysgrey or obscure reasons behind such decisions. Mine are really very simple and transparent.

I wanted to leave politics when Iwanted, how I wanted and because I wanted. And I wanted to do so when I am riding high, having just been awarded the MEP of the year for my work in my committee, IMCO. No third party obscure reason exist – although many a nasty comment suggested otherwise. An MEP with a family who cannot join him/her leads a lonely life, living in differentcountries, travelling incessantly on parliamentary missions usually visiting only the airport and the conference centre before heading back home. Then, family life becomes paramount and everything else takes a back seat. That is the thrust of my decision.

And no, I am not complaining. I am explaining.

However the decision was not any easy one to take. I love my work as an MEP – the debates, the drafting of legislation, the knowledge that one is contributingto the wellbeing of the citizens, being a representative and a voice, the civil debates, the participation in, and the leading of trilogues in the formulation of legislation. Infact, if I could have it my way I would gladly be a “people´s representative” without having to be a politician – but that, unfortunately, is not possible. I felt respected by my peers, was entrusted with a large number of reports by my political group, I have represented the EP in many conferences and delegations world –wide and above all earned recognition for my work in various fields through awards given by international organisations, including in the field of animal welfare.

And so I look back on my role as a representative of the people with satisfaction that I have done the very best of my abilities in honour of all those who had entrusted me with their vote and voice, and have always staunchly guarded the interest of my country. Now there is still a year of work to be done. The enthusiasm I showed in my work will not wane in the coming year and I will continue to represent the interest of my country and its citizens till the last day of my mandate … and be forever grateful at this awesome opportunity I was given.

And then on for the next adventure!

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If there is one conclusion that I have reached during this mandate it is that European citizens everywhere hunger for a true voice within the long and increasingly turbulent corridors of the Union. This was exactly the spirit behind the unanimous approval by the European Parliament’s Petitions Committee of a set of new rules aimed at revising the European Citizens’ Initiative.

In my dual role as Vice-President of the Petitions Committee and a spokesperson on the issue for the S&D Group within the European Parliament, I got the greatest satisfaction from the highly positive outcome of this revision. There was substantial agreement among all political groups to support my proposed amendments to update and improve the current rules that give European citizens a proper voice when it comes to organising, participating and simply supporting the initiatives of other fellow European citizens. As Shadow Rapporteur, it was my pleasure to watch such important developments take place in the field of active European citizenship for the benefit of both the Maltese and European citizen.

The European Citizens’ Initiative had the seen the light of day prior to the Treaty of Lisbon, earlier known as the Reform Treaty, signed by all member states in 2007, with the specific aim of amplifying the citizen’s role in the European legislative process. While it called for the citizen to take a participative and influential role, the initiative had obviously failed to meet expectations. Following a spate of new citizen demands, in September 2017 the European Parliament and the Commission took it upon themselves to publish a batch of new rules.

The Commission’s new proposals will hopefully go a long way towards eliminating many of the problems that have been hampering the full and effective use of the initiative. There are still other ways and modes that can be applied in making sure this valuable tool in the European Union citizen’s hand is rendered sharper and significantly more successful.

The primary aim of my role in the co-driver seat of this revision process was to seriously address existing discrepancies by way of finally giving European citizens an equal share with the European Parliament and the European Council in proposing new initiatives and policies at a pan-European level. It is undoubtedly a direct appeal to the European Union for the people in all member states to feel they are real and actual partners in the formulation of future EU policy.

This has to be the way forward, unshackled and unrestrained from the ideological differences that have, far too often, sadly hindered the democratisation process within the European Union and the general appeal of the Union itself as more than a mere conglomeration of individual states going their separate ways on issues that concern their various populations. Electoral results, political and institutional stalemates, such as we are currently witnessing in neighbouring Italy, and seen occurring in Austria and Germany, point to one direction: a particular need to define and highlight the citizen’s role in all that happens about him/her and around him/her.

It stays as my steadfast commitment in the twelve months ahead,before I bid goodbye, to a hopefully better-understood, more-appreciated EU.

The Malta Independent 31-05-18

 

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