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All of you have probably heard from Social Democrats, that Sweden is the ultimate example that left ideas are in the best interest of your countries. That following the Swedish example will make your country prosperous and that Sweden has succeeded thanks to high taxes and a well built welfare state.
 
Truth is, this is not the case. In reality, the Swedish experience should rather be used to argue for free-market reforms and against big government. A big welfare state is not the only thing that sets Sweden apart from other countries. Our strong work ethics and high levels of trust might be some of the reasons that Sweden has succeeded even though we have a large welfare state. British Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) published a paper written by Swedish Nima Sanandaji on this issue.
 
Some of the highlights from it:
·      Sweden did not become wealthy through social democracy, big government and a large welfare state. It developed economically by adopting free-market policies in the late 19th century and early 20th century. It also benefited from positive cultural norms, including a strong work ethic and high levels of trust.
 
·      As late as 1950, Swedish tax revenues were still only around 21 per cent of GDP. The policy shift towards a big state and higher taxes occurred mainly during the next thirty years, as taxes increased by almost one per cent of GDP annually
 

 

It had never been more apparent to me that we are increasingly becoming addictively dependent on our vehicles.  Driving to work last Mondays morning after the infamous  floods seemed Mission Impossible. There was a bottleneck of a sea of cars, all of which were occupied only by the driver, in an attempt to squeeze their way to work. Needless to say, this was no common day like any other. It sparked a feeling that in spite our so-called modern-world sophistications, we remain fragile and susceptible to nature’s discretion whilst clinging to our cars.

So, how many cars can we fit on our tiny island? According to official figures published in 2011, Malta shockingly ranks the 5th on this planet in terms of car ownership, with almost three quarters of the population owning a car. The figures are staggering when factoring our limited land mass and road sizes.

 

As the conflict in Syria seems to further escalate and a military intervention is more probable than just some weeks ago, it is worthwhile to look back on YEPP’s recent manifestation in the same issue.
 
During the summer school, held in Cyprus two weeks ago, YEPP delegates from 28 countries gathered in front of the Syrian Embassy to reject the violence that caused the death of more than 10.000 citizens so far.
 
While YEPP members held banners displaying the word ’freedom’ in many languages, I was given the opportunity to make a short speech about the Syrian situation. I emphasized that the EU and its member states have obligations in four major policy areas.
 

 
Freedom for Cuba

Yesterday, the Cuban dissidents Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero died in a car accident. All my support and my most sincere condolences to their families.
 
But I also want to send a warm messasge to 2 YEPP members that were together with them in the car: Aron Modig (KDU, Sweden) and Ángel Carromero (NNGG, Spain). I hope you recover soon and I am really looking forward to hear your testimony as many witnesses said that the accident was deliberate.
 
YEPP family has shown, once more, its commitment with the defense of freedom. As our friends Osvaldo and Harold used to say: Free Cuba now! Cuba Libre ya!
 

 

Last Monday, I attended the June meeting of the EPP’s Working Group 2, Economic & Social Affairs, at the EPP headquarters in Brussels. YEPP’s participation in this working group has grown and developed over the last few years and valuable contributions have been made on a variety of topics. YEPP was particularly grateful for the support of the Chairman or WG2, Gunnar Hökmark MEP, with a number of resolutions YEPP presented in 2011.
 
The only topic up for discussion at Monday’s meeting was “Structural & Cohesion Fund”. These EU funds are aimed at Member States whose Gross National Income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90% of the EU average. They serve to reduce their economic and social shortfall, as well as to stabilise their economy through targeted investment in infrastructure and development. The discussion was related to the approval of the working groups draft resolution on the “Single Market and Cohesion”, which is to be presented to the next EPP Congress in October 2012 being held in Bucharest.
 
The resolution does not propose anything radical or explicitly new, however crucially it urges consolidation, simplification and streamlining of various EU policy in how it appropriates and designates funding for cohesion projects. The resolution targets particular areas under eight headings;
 

 

 
Some days ago, we took part in the EU - China young leaders forum in the European Parliament. Following the first meeting last year, it proved to be another round of good discussions.

In my intervention on behalf of YEPP I touched on four basic issues that could be the focus of the EU - China youth dialogue in the future. The first is economic stability and the fight against debts. Why? Because if Europe is struggling with an unprecedented level of indebtedness, that is bad news for China as well. Their economies are largely interconnected, therefore any economic hardships in Europe endanger the export prospects of Chinese companies (The fact that the EU is now the biggest export market for China, proves this assumption).

The second point to be discussed is demography. No lasting economic reboot is feasible without bearing in mind family policy aspects. Both in China and Europe, the population is ageing, which has serious consequences on social security systems. With no profound changes in demography trends, Europe will face difficulties to defend its more-or-less generous welfare system, while China will face difficulties to enhance welfare to the great majority of its vast population.

 

So what does Greece want?
 
Elections took place on May 6th, elections are taking place again on June 17th, in the same country, Greece. Why? Didn’t the Greeks have the chance to decide? Didn’t they show the way and expressed their preference to the policies they trust? Didn’t they choose what they want? The answer is no.
 
The Greeks might have expressed their voice, or at least 65% of them, but the result was nothing more than an anger vote, a condemnation of what they have seen in their country over the last 2 years, and some say, over the last 30 years. Nothing positive came out of this election. People said no to many things, but they did not say yes to anything and anyone. That is why the result is rather controversial. The 2 governing parties, Nea Demokratia (Center-Right) and PASOK (Socialists) lost in just 2 years more than 3 million voters and 45% of their political power. The “anti-memorandum” parties got 68% of the votes. Among them, the Golden Dawn (Neo-Nazi) got 7%, a completely new party without any specific program or ideology got 10% while the left increased its overall percentage to more than 30%. The political earthquake does not stop here though. A record high of almost 20% of the Greeks voted for parties that did not make their way into the Parliament, being unable to reach the 3% limit.
 

 

On Tuesday 8th May, 2012, EPP President Wilfred Martens invited a group of youth politicians to discuss with him the EPP Manifesto. Such invitations are not that common! So my first reaction was....Mr Martens and the EPP are interested to give the EPP Manifesto a dosage of youth!

To start with, the EPP Manifesto was only 5 or so pages long. This is long enough to keep someone reading but not too long such that someone looses interest. Through reading a manifesto, a person should understand in clear and no uncertain terms what the EPP is all about, what we believe in as a family of European political parties.

Job creation was on top of the list. It remains as of today an issue of concern. I can say however, that in my country, Malta, unemployment has been kept to relatively smaller rates (in the 6% region), but I empathised nonetheless with my European counterparts, such as Spain and Greece. As I discussed with Spanish and Greek representatives, it is clear that the abnormal high unemployment rates are leading to brain drains, forcing students to abondon their beloved nation in seek of better future opportunities.

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