EP approves new public holiday; up to the Government now

It is now up to the Maltese Government to declare the 9th May, Europe Day, a public holiday after a resolution on Treaty provisions related to EU citizenship was passed in European Parliament on the 12th February. A clause in this non-binding resolution is precisely for Europe Day to become a Europe-wide public holiday, non-binding because it is up to the Member States to make the final decision.

The specific clause within the resolution regarding the public holiday reads, “Proposes to the Member States that they establish a European public holiday on 9 May in order to reinforce a European feeling of belonging and create space for civic movements and activities”.

9th May could be a new European public holiday

The resolution, which also included provisions for citizens to become members of European Political parties directly, passed with 459 votes against 170, while the specific proposal on the public holiday passed with 455 votes against 190.

ALDE MEP Maite Pagazaurtundua Ruiz from the Committee on Constitutional Affairs also previously saw the resolution through a vote by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, passing it by 40 votes against 7 on the 10th January. The Petitions Committee meanwhile also passed the resolution with 19 votes against 1, with 6 abstentions.

The movement for the public holiday was initially started by the Spanish Europeanists with a petition online explaining that “The 9th of May should be a date reaching all Europeans, not a gap between institutions and the citizens.” This because Europe Day is in fact celebrated by all staff and members of European Institutions who stop their operations and open to the public on the day full of activities.

December 2018, meanwhile, saw Luxembourg declaring the public holiday ahead of any other Member State with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel announcing that the country will have a “day of rest”. Kosovo also celebrates Europe Day, despite not having secured membership in the EU yet. In Kosovo, all government offices, schools and the majority of privately owned businesses remain closed with activities in the streets, and organisations handing out freebies to children.