The University of Malta Campus in Msida launched its first European Bench on Friday, an initiative brought to Malta by the Young European Federalists (JEF) with the support of the European Parliament Office in Malta. The initiative aims to create spaces that foster dialogue, understanding, and collaboration among individuals from different European countries and promote European integration.
JEF Malta’s President, Nicole Spiteri, explained that the European Bench serves as a symbol of the value of diversity and the benefits that come from working together towards common goals. As part of a wider initiative to strengthen European integration, the physical commitment to bringing people together highlights the importance of dialogue and understanding.
MEP Alex Agius Saliba also supported the initiative, stating that the European Bench project encompasses the values that make us truly European. He believes that this initiative, taken up by JEF, is a way to fight against right-wing extremism by promoting the values of solidarity, democracy, and equality. Saliba hopes to see more benches like this one mushrooming all around Malta and Gozo.
The Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta, Mario Sammut, also underscored the bench’s importance, stating that it will offer a visual testimony of the presence of the European Union in our lives. The European Parliament Office in Malta enthusiastically supports such worthy initiatives.
The European Bench project began in Italy as a response to the vandalisation of a European bench in the Italian city of Lecco, defaced by Nazi symbols in July 2021. This prompted a group of JEFers from the local section to launch crowdfunding for the repair of the damaged bench. Thanks to their efforts, there are now more than 50 benches throughout Italy as part of this initiative.
In Malta, the European Bench at the University of Malta is planned to be the first of a series, aiming to promote European values and unity in the face of hate and intolerance. As part of the Panchine Europee in Ogni Citta campaign, people from all over Europe will paint benches in the colours or form of the EU in their home countries.