MEP Candidates Debate on Campus: Live Updates

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With just over 2 months to go to the next European Parliament elections, Maltese MEP canditates are taking their message to campus today in a bid to convince students to vote for them.

MEP candidates Arnold Cassola (AD), Kevin Plumpton (PN), Stefano Mallia (PN), Cyrus Engerer (PL) and Miriam Dalli (PL) will be on the panel discussing the EU’s most pressing issues.

12:25pm: Address by Ryan Mercieca President of the Debate.

12.27pm: Introduction by Julian Caruana, Insite Media Officer and Moderator of the debate. It is explained that the debate will be made up of questions asked by 5 different student organisations: We Are, Pulse, SDM, GUG and Jef.

12.30pm: First questions by We Are are asked by Paul Caruana Turner and Romina Tolu.

1. ILGA-Europe’s Come Out Pledge ILGA-Europe, a organisation working to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people in Europe is asking candidates to sign a pledge which focuses on 10 key areas future MEPs can work on to promote human rights. Two of the candidates on the panel have signed this pledge (Cyrus and Arnold) (and Therese Comodini Cachia and Roberta Metsola have also signed the pledge).

The pledge (link here: and print copies of it to hand to the 3 who hadn’t signed it) includes pledges to complete EU anti-discrimination law, and promote an inclusive definition of family in EU policies.

Why haven’t you signed the pledge? And would you be willing to sign the pledge to show a firm commitment to the rights of LGBTI individuals?

2. On the role LGBTI people’s human rights should have in EU’s external policy Following Uganda’s strengthening of laws against homosexuals Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the World Bank suspended or diverted aid to Uganda. In your opinion, do you think that the European Parliament can and should take similar actions by pushing for an external policy which prioritises human rights and makes agreements conditional on the respect of these?

12.35pm: Answers done in alphabetical order, and all candidates are given about 2 minutes each to answer. The first to answer is Arnold Cassola who has signed the pledge, and is followed by Miriam Dalli who is also in support of the pledge. She makes special references to Uganda.

12.37pm: Kevin Plumpton also adds that he would be very comfortable in signing the pledge, and agrees with what has been said by the other two candidates. He also mentions that sanctions should be made in Ukraine, and he appealed that Europe should be faster in fighting human rights. He adds that this policy should go through the European Parliament, but there are other committees which should also fight for this. All politicians should fight in favour of these human rights.

12.39pm: Cyrus Engerer adds that the government is working on equalities, and the consulting council is also working n a gender identity bill. There are still other issues that surround this topic that still have to be addressed such as intersex people, and equality in marriage, which should be the first step.

12:43pm: Stefano Mallia is aware of the pledge and is looking forward to signing it as well. He emphasizes that orientations should never be an issue for a person. He also refers to Uganda but says that there are other cases where human rights are still not properly observed.

12:45pm: Questions by JEF Malta are on Federalism:

1. X’tahsbu li jrid isir biex jigi eliminat/mnaqqas in-nazzjonalizmu estrem u ewroxetticizmu?

2. JEF Malta temmen li fejn hemm l-unita hemm aktar sahha. Ghalhekk hija ghal din ir-raguni li ahna nemmnu f’ewropa federali. Tahseb li wasal iz-zmien li jkollna stati uniti tal-ewropa?

12:46pm: Stefano Mallia starts by saying that nationalism is a natural reaction. Member states should not built barriers between them and other countries. Barriers should be overcome. The model of the EU is good, but we should not lose faith in the EU as seems to happen sometimes. We are sometimes not capable in showing why the EU is useful, and this our challenge if we get elected.

12:46pm: Mr Engerer adds that first of all we need a better EU. The fact that Euro sceptics are growing in number, shows that people are actually losing faith in Europe. We have to understand that we cannot have a one size fits all Europe, because all countries have different needs.

12:50pm: Arnold Cassola says that national politics is sometimes egoistic. Complaints are made to Brussels, thus encouraging Euro scepticism, but once something good happens they take the credit. This must top. The implementations of policies should be taken more seriously, and we need a better unity in the EU.

1pm: Questions are taking from the audience and these are about illegal immigration, the Gozo-Malta link and diversity within the EU.

1.10pm: Plumpton starts by saying that discusses illegal immigration and says that a lot of people do not know what we are really talking about. We have to be familiar with what Frontex really is. Plumpton is once again asked for his solutions, and mentions diplomacy. The EU should solve this problem, but this should be tackled properly locally as well.

1:14pm: Engerer brings up the issue of different treatment towards Malts within the EU, because we are the smallest country. With regards to immigration he also emphasizes that there should be an EU effort that those who have no rights to be refugees should be repatriated.

He also mentions that GOzo should be recognised as a region within the EU. He believes that Gozo needs this to be able to receive more EU funds, and that Partit Laburisti believes in this as well.

On diversity, he also adds that we should preserve the cultures of every country.

1:18pm: Cassola strongly emphasizes that a change needs to be done on the Dublin rules. He also refers to Gozo and says that things should be done now, such as the catamaran between Gozo and Valleta. He is also against the permanent link and he said we should look at things within their context.

1:22pm: Miriam Dalli brings up the fast ferry service and also brings up two other things: statistics on Gozo to identify problems, and an office for Gozo in Brussels. On Immigration, she emphasizes that we have to focus more on burden sharing.

1:25pm: Actions must be taken on illegal immigration, says Stefano Mallia. He says that more things have to be done within the EU and mentions a number of solutions, such as actually going to the source countries to understand the real situation. Things can change if you actually come in contact with these people. So we have to be careful before generalising and taking decisions.

He also refers to Gozo again, and says that we do not have a good working plan or programme.

1:30pm: Plumpton says that although Eco-Gozo was perhaps not the solution, we have to work on a policy for Gozo. We need a proper vision but not just some patching.

1:30pm: A question by SDM:

Riċentament il-Gvern ħabbar dettalji dwar l-iskema ‘Garanzija għaż-Żgħażagħ. Nixtiequ nistaqsu għall-pożizzjoni tal-kandidati dwar din l-iskema… fis-sens taħsbu li jista’ jkun hemm min jara din l-iskema bħala opportunita’ biex jieqfu mill-iskola obbligatorja u ma jkomplux, għax jafu li hemm garanzija li se ssibilhom xogħol?

1:33pm: Question by Pulse:

What are you planning to do in order to encourage a higher rate of youth entrepreneurship?

1:34pm: Stefano Mallia answers first and says that if the economy is growing, we have to be innovative to create new sectors that will have new opportunities for our youths.

1:36pm: Guaranties for youth should be youth, training or education, says Miriam Dalli. We are not encouraging youth to leave school, but a lot are leaving school without knowing the proper basics. So we need initiatives to solve these problems. This should be the first step. We need things to happen, to just to be written down on papers. She also adds that we need change our mentality that taking a risk to get out of your comfort zone and start a business is not bad.

1:39pm: Plumpton says that all these youths looking for jobs means that the problem is not yet solved. He calls out to the politicians to come up with a proper job plan. There are laws which are in Malta that should be acted upon.

1:42pm: The weather was a particular factor during the debate with the MEP candidates being brought hot chocolate to protect them from the cold air, despite the fact the elected MEPS are going to the North of Europe and the Bahamas.

Cassola once again strongly emphasises on a number of issues that must be tackled within education and youth employment.

1.46pm: Engerer gives the last comments, and refers to a number of opportunities that were available in the past few years, but says that still, more has to be done. The guarantee of youths is important and the government will working towards something better. He also adds that the budget for entrepreneurs will double this year, and that the aims and goals of the youths should not be suppressed due to financial issues.

1:50pm: Conclusions by the moderator, Julian Caruana.

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