The Malta Independent 18 September 2021, Saturday

Helena Dalli EP ‘grilling’: Maltese MEPs’ first reactions

Jeremy Micallef Wednesday, 2 October 2019, 18:56 Last update: about 3 years ago

The Malta Independent spoke to five out of six Maltese MEPs and asked for their reaction to Helena Dalli's grilling before the European Parliament earlier on Wednesday.

PL MEP Miriam Dalli said the Commissioner-designate "knows the subject and has the credentials to move the topic of equality forward in the EU."


She said Dalli's statements received positively, especially her comments on equality. Our Socialist Democratic colleagues agree that Helena Dalli is the ideal person to move forward this portfolio, the MEP said.

"It makes me very happy to hear that Helena Dalli will be focusing on the issue of gender pay gap. We had also spoken about this during the electoral campaign, and I am one of those persons who believe that everyone has the right to be paid equally when doing the same work. I look forward to see these proposals included so as to address the issue of gender pay gap in the EU."

PL MEP Alfred Sant said "It is not so usual to get so much applause during a hearing."

He said Dalli had given a very good and extremely clear performance. "She had a vision she wanted to explain and she explained it well, and I believe it went down quite well with the other MEPs. I think that on the whole, Helena Dalli did a very good job."

When asked on what particular policies Dalli should focus on, Sant explained that people will be expecting results, when at the EU there are quite a lot of legislative texts on what should be done. "Her job is to get complete results."

He said that, apart from working on the legal side, Dalli should also focus on the implementation side.

Labour MEP, Josianne Cutajar said she was proud not only because she is Maltese but because of Dalli's very good performance. Cutajar said that Dalli showed that she has experience in the field, after several years working in the sector and the big changes she achieved in Malta.

"She now has the energy and experience so as the work she achieved in Malta is continued on a European level and even beyond Europe," Cutajar noted.

She also said she was very happy when hearing the applause of those present in the hall. Dalli showed she has compassion, especially considering the subject is so delicate, Cutajar continued.

Persons suffering from inequality are suffering but Dalli showed she understands these people and wants to be close to them, enabling her to move forward with the policy, she said.

Another positive note, Cutajar noted, is that Dalli intends to remain in close contact with Members of the European Parliament and even stakeholders, giving the example of the section concerning disabilities.

About this, she mentioned that she will be involving people with disabilities, and the relevant groups, in policy, Cutajar said.

Dalli also mentioned directives which she intends to push, as well as create workshops for employers and also so as the member states can gain a better understanding

"Politics has to be focused on the citizen and those directly affected. This is also the European policy I believe in and want practised more, to ensure it is the politics of the people and a socialist European for the people."

PN MEP David Casa said he was surprised by Helena Dalli's answer that she would "have done things differently" in the case of Panama Papers.

"For me this is a big development, but it is a pity that this reaction came out so many years later and would have been better had Dalli spoken up earlier on the scandal at the time."

He added that her portfolio is very important.  "It is important that what we heard today in the grilling does not remain just words but becomes fact, particularly in the work-life balance directive, on which she has committed herself to implement the directive."


PN MEP, Roberta Metsola said that on behalf of the EPP they are glad to see a portfolio dedicated to equality. She described Dalli as a "champion" on this area, adding that she has worked in the sector and has brought forward developments. 

Metsola said she looked forward to these developments taking place also on a European level. She called for a better emphasis on discrimination on persons with a disability, as was mentioned, especially students and young people. 

"We would have expected, however, a stronger commitment on exactly what Helena Dalli is going to be doing over the next five years, from a policy and legislative perspective," Metsola said.

She also added that, "we want stronger protection for the media and freedom of expression, that fall squarely within her portfolio. We would have expected her condemnation of Konrad Mizzi in the context of the Panama Papers scandal that happened two years ago and not today."

Metsola said this would have saved two years of a bad shadow being cast over Malta and on anyone, even the opposition, who dared speak up against having Malta's reputation tarnished on a European level, but also on a local level.

She also said that stronger language on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia was expected. "This was not femicide, as Dalli called it, but an assassination of a brave woman who dared to speak up about the truth. I would look forward to the commissioner designate for equality, for now, to speak about this throughout her mandate." 


EPP group statement 

The EPP Group welcomed the creation of an Equality Commissioner "as an unrivalled opportunity for the EU, which we intend to make full use of."

"However, some questions are outstanding and we would have liked to hear more detail on some of the initiatives Commissioner-designate Helena Dalli will take and how she will work with other Commissioners across other portfolios", said Frances Fitzgerald MEP, EPP Group Spokeswoman on the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee.

"Achieving equality for our citizens is a long-held ambition for the EU, for which Commissioner-designate Dalli has the opportunity to bring forward proactive, concrete action in order to genuinely deliver for citizens", added MEP Fitzgerald, highlighting key areas for the EPP Group such as gender pay and pension gaps, encouraging women entrepreneurs and supporting a better work-life balance. 

There must be zero tolerance against gender-based violence and to that end, the EU ratification of the Istanbul Convention is crucial, but other measures must also be pursued, the EPP said. 







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