The Malta Independent 27 May 2019, Monday

Miriam Dalli makes case for 16-year-old voting across the European Union

Wednesday, 17 April 2019, 13:07 Last update: about 2 months ago

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli urged Member States to follow in Malta’s footsteps and allow 16-year-olds the right to vote. Dr Dalli made her case during a meeting of the European Parliament’s environment committee with Nobel peace prize nominee Greta Thunberg.

“We need to push for young people to have a voice in the decisions that we are taking because they are the ones who will bear the brunt of those decisions,” Miriam Dalli said.

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The environment committee on Tuesday afternoon welcomed 16-year-old Greta, a climate activist whose actions have inspired an international movement to fight climate change. Her efforts in climate activism sparked strikes across the globe, including in Malta. 

“As a mother of two, I share your concern about the future of youths and children. Today people inside this room are cheering you on for what you’re saying but when we come to the crunch of it - to the actual legislation - some of these people push for far less ambition.”

Dalli has led the European Parliament’s negotiations on reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, with the final signing of the legislation taking place tomorrow in Strasbourg. Initially, the proposal was met with opposition from different lobbyists and stakeholders.

During her message to the European Parliament, Greta Thunberg described herself as a 16-year-old without the right to vote. “The EU elections are coming up soon and many of us, who will be affected the most by this crisis, people like me are not allowed to vote [...] You need to listen to us. We who cannot vote. You need to vote for us.”

In reply, Miriam Dalli said that the European Parliament needed to push for young people to have a voice in the decisions being taken.

“As a 16-year-old you’re not allowed to vote. But some Member States like Malta and Austria are allowing that and we need to increase the pressure as European Parliament so that more countries give a voice to youths your age.”

Dalli went on to encourage the young activist that it was the determination and perseverance that mattered. “You say you’re just a 16-year-old schoolgirl. I come from the smallest island state and it is not the age that matters, or the size of your country, but the determination to push for change to happen. Your determination is leaving an impact on other students and older generations alike.”

In conclusion, the Maltese MEP urged EU leaders to put words to action: “It’s useless for EU leaders to make nice speeches but then they don’t do much. If we do not take care of our planet, we won’t have any economies or jobs to protect.”

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