Ian C. Ellul

The parties which have obtained the highest share of votes during the 2014 European Parliament elections are the Group of the European People’s Party (28.36%), the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (25.43%) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (8.52%). Obviously, this has to be taken into perspective. Turn-out was only 43.09%. In Malta the two main political parties elected an equal number of representatives.
The European Parliament contains 7 parties, together with numerous other non-attached MEPs not allied to any of the political groups. Interestingly, when compared to the last election in 2009, there was a shift of 66 MEP from the 2 main parties to the other 5 parties. In this case, one must also take into consideration the fact that, following the provisions detailed in the Lisbon Treaty, the number of MEPS has now been reduced from 766 to 751.
Amidst this changing scenario, the health community will have to work harder to ensure that the four areas identified in the Europe 2020 strategy which pertain to health are implemented in an efficient manner. These are:

  • Innovation Union – the aim is to make Europe a world-leader in developinginnovative ways to promote active and healthy  ageing. This includes the improvement of the sustainability and efficiency of social and healthcare systems (a major challenge for Malta, I must say!)
  • Digital agenda for Europe – this focuses on developing and using digital applications.  This includes giving citizens an online access to their medical health data and achieve widespread telemedicine deployment
  • Agenda for new skills and jobs – this will help to highlight the economic role of mental health of the workforce. This should result in improved working conditions which in turn will help reduce health inequalities and absenteeism. Research into the growing incidence of mental illnesses in the work place is also being investigated.
  • European platform against poverty – the aim is to lift at least 20 million Europeans out of poverty by 2020.

Europe consists of 500 million citizens. Maybe for the 57% who are listed on the European electoral register and who decided to not vote in the European Parliament, these arguments do not hold water. However everyone falls sick and everyone ages. So in my opinion, even if one were to consider solely the aforementioned health-specific areas, everyone should vote, irrespective of whether one considers the system to be wrong or not. Ultimately, the system is there to stay …