No government and opposition in the EP – Mina Tolu

I was 12 years-old when Malta entered the European Union, and I have been privileged to be amongst the first as a young Maltese to truly experience the full benefits of this membership. From a semester on Erasmus in Sweden, to international youth exchanges with LGBTQI and Green NGOs. But also, cross-border friendships, long-distance lovers, and 3-years working in Berlin.  These experiences make me believe in Europe and make me want to work for a better Europe – for everyone. 

Last summer walking along a beach in Estonia I came across a lonely entangled balloon on the shore, almost completely deflated. The balloon, half my height, exclaimed “it’s a boy!” in English. A big, blue, gender-revealing balloon. (It goes without saying that I threw it away properly.) A few weeks later, in the north of Italy, I walked into a shop and found the same balloon design on sale there. 

I thought of this balloon recently, lifted off somewhere in celebration to float aimlessly through the sky, then later the sea, in total disregard of our man-made borders. Then I thought of these man-made borders and their impact on environmental and social policy. Indeed, because these borders are man-made, the solutions in these policy areas should be European-wide ones. 

These solutions should take into consideration everything which each and every Member State, in their diversity, can bring to the table. In terms of experience, in terms of geography, in terms of success but also in terms of constraints and limitations. It is within these contexts that I would work in the European Parliament – for a more sustainable and social Europe.

Let’s face it, economic growth is a poor measure of welfare. It does not consider the struggles that the increasing cost of living and inflation rates inflict upon regular citizens. Economic growth benefits the few, harming our quality of life and destroying ecological balance. It is time for a Green New Deal for Europe, so that we can transition to a carbon-neutral, circular economy that benefits the many.

So while I will work for ambitious climate policy and fight for a just transition and a European-Energy-Grid run on 100% renewable energy, I will also ensure that no one is left behind. This can be done through re-training programs and the creation of green jobs. 

When it comes to policies for a social Europe, I believe that everyone should have access to a living income and housing. I will therefore work to ensure that workers’ rights are upheld by all Member States in equal measure. That means good working conditions, fair pay, fairly paid sick and parental leave, and tax policy that does not harm people in other Member States.

Malta could have an exciting and important role to play in building a social and sustainable Europe. We can be making the most of our geographical advantages and push to be amongst the first countries in Europe to have an energy-grid based on renewable energy. It is also time to embrace the future of work and the opportunities of automisation. When work processes become more efficient we shouldn’t be producing more. We should be working less! While enjoying a stable and decent income. A long-term vision in this area includes Universal Basic Income, and Malta could be the ideal place to try this out.

At the European Parliament, there is no government and no opposition. I encourage everyone in Malta to vote for MEPs who will best represent our voice at a European level. From my end, I am ready to work with others who also believe in and will work for a social and sustainable Europe.

Mina Tolu
Published in the Maltatoday – Sunday 5 May 2019