SPECIAL, Solidarity Purposes Enhance Cooperation Initiatives and Learning, is focused on the Future of Europe and on the promotion of solidarity as a basic concept. The project’s leading aim is centred on highlighting the need for more effective actions for the prevention of cultural deprivation and economic hardships in local communities. These are inhibiting factors against active youth EU citizenship.
This outlined dilemma affects many and its root cause lies in the current economic crisis coupled with negative propaganda caused by a lack of solidarity among the EU member states. Thus, in combatting these issues, the SPECIAL Project does its utmost in underlining this threat to European society. It creates a confrontation environment where stimulating discussions on the best practices to be adopted are shared. Relevant recommendations, opinions and ideas are distributed amongst the countries, giving local voices a collective European platform.
The activities foreseen by the project lean towards a spread of know-how about strategies to prevent economical and consequential educational deficiency and to encourage solidarity actions, such as volunteering and the creation of associations or organisations. These strategies were duly tackled by the Swieqi Local Council on behalf of Malta, Cyprus, Italy, Hungary and the Czech Republic, with a greater lens based on the importance of the EU and its policies in times of emergency.
The international meeting in Bükkábrány, Hungary hosted a series of informative workshops followed by the dissemination of information by each municipality. Delineating what solidarity means to us, the Maltese Youths representing Swieqi shared the above video with the foreign representatives.
Deputy Mayor Mary Anne Abela, Councillor Anna Pisani and Lucia Vassallo supervised Jessica Pisani, Emily Gatt, and me. Abela drew attention to the local fiscal incentives and financial subsidies implemented during the crisis whilst also providing an overview on the national economic position of the country.
By innovatively reaching equal opportunities in society and achieving growth for young people who are compromised by social and economic shortcomings, the here, the now and the tomorrow can be deemed progressive.
Fostering EU solidarity will not be easy. Despite the fact that the COVID-19 crisis has stressed the necessity for solidarity, inequalities will nonetheless continue to surge in and among societies, while the risk for further fragmentation between the EU27 will remain high. If the EU is to prevent divides from deepening, both politically and socio-economically, it should avoid returning to ‘business as usual’ after the crisis.
Instead, a changed EU rationale towards solidarity would allow nations to shift from the current use of solidarity as a mere buzzword towards an applicable political concept that fights the disintegrative forces in the EU.
The Union and its member states should widen their understanding of solidarity and emphasise it as a core value of EU cooperation. The EU should also explore its capacity to consolidate its existing solidarity mechanisms and develop a more comprehensive cohesion agenda. Finally, the EU should provide the conditions for interpersonal solidarity to emerge. Only if the EU manages to consolidate its inner core will it be able to face future challenges.
The cross-culture experience successfully imbued participants with newfound knowledge of foreign societies, wholly fulfilling its nuclear intentions.
I would like to express my extreme gratitude to both the Council of Bükkábrány, the Swieqi Local Council with special thanks to Swieqi Councillor Mr. Paul Fenech, and all those involved in the actualisation of such a fruitful project.