20 NOVEMBER 2002
The first part of the historical chapter yet to unfold in the coming months was written yesterday when Maltese MPs from both sides of the House delivered two five minute speeches in Maltese in the European Parliament reconvened in Strasbourg for the special enlargement session.
But the moment was not without its ironic twist. According to the Labour Party representatives present for the historic session, the EU enlargement project is a good idea and all countries will stand to benefit from it, accept Malta.
The Maltese delegation of six MPs was composed of Michael Frendo, Dolores Cristina and Jason Azzopardi for the government side and Chris Cardona, Jose Herrera and Carmelo Abela for the Opposition.
Michael Frendo was the first to take the floor and in a speech, which just overshot the allocated five minutes he outlined the historic moment that stared the people of Europe in their face.
Dr Frendo said that the Maltese would not enter the EU empty handed. "The Maltese will bring with them their history, their civilisation and will place their own tile in the mosaic of European nations to complete the whole picture."
Dr Frendo added that the special parliamentary session was celebrating the moment when the European family was coming back together in a voluntary and peaceful way.
Labour MP Chris Cardona spoke some 30 minutes after Dr Frendo and immediately laid out the Labour Partys position against membership. The three MLP representatives, along with a single Polish MP were the only ones to talk against membership.
Dr Cardona said that membership does not suite the Island because EU directives would have an adverse effect on the economy. He explained that the EU was a good thing and that through the enlargement process other countries including the Mediterranean region stood to benefit.
The Labour MP then reiterated his partys call for a special arrangement with the EU as opposed to membership.
Meanwhile, Alternattiva Demokratika EU Affairs spokesperson and Secretary General of the European Greens, Arnold Cassola told journalists after the plenary session that it was his partys pleasure to see six Maltese MPs present in Parliament.
"Indeed it was a most touching moment to hear the Maltese language being spoken for the first time today by Maltas representatives to the European Parliament," Prof. Cassola said.
The Nice Treaty allocated Malta five parliamentary seats but Prof.
Cassola said that it was through Alternattiva Demokratikas hard
work in collaboration with its Green partners in the EU parliament that
Malta could be able to send six representatives.