The Malta Independent 23 May 2018, Wednesday

Funds for Europe

Alfred Sant Thursday, 10 May 2018, 08:00 Last update: about 13 days ago

In its proposal regarding how EU budgets should be structured between 2020 and 2027, the European Commission had to consider how funds were going to be sourced, not just how they would be spent. Given Brexit and the launch of “new” policy directions it had to take into account both the loss of revenues and the increase in requirements.

This it did by among other measures, proposing a “modest” increase in the direct contributions that member states make to the EU budget. Additional items include the adoption of certain tax systems by the EU, with part of their uptake going directly into the Union’s coffers. One such measure concerns the CCCTB, the so-called common consolidated corporate tax base, under which all European firms would register their income and outgo according to the same criteria.

A number of countries, including Malta, have up to now resisted the introduction of this system, which the Commissioner responsible for the economy, Moscovici, has long been pushing for. These countries understand the measure as an intrusion in the sovereignty that according to the European treaties they still retain to run their own tax systems.

One could indeed consider the Commission’s proposal as a ploy to get in through the window what they could not get through the door.

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Air pollution

To be honest, I found the excellent figures recently published about air pollution in Malta quite perplexing. The stories one frequently comes across about this person’s or the other’s breathlessness, hay fever, allergies, asthma and I do not know what else, especially during a change of season, seem to indicate that air quality has been deteriorating over the years.

I tried to find what information is available about the incidence of asthma in Malta but with scant success. There were

--A medical article written in the 1960s by Professor Frederick Fenech in which he concludes that the Maltese climate cannot be said to be better or worse than other climates by way of the incidence of asthma;

--A report from two to three years back, which claimed that asthma is two and a half times more prevalent in Malta than in Sicily;

--An international ranking of countries by the incidence of asthma. Here we place at hundred and sixty seven, But the indicator used refers to deaths from the condition. No matter how good or bad our air quality is now, I would still guess that we have not yet gotten to the stage where asthma causes so many deaths.

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European sentiment

The Europe Day celebrations provide an opportunity for many to commemorate what the EU has succeeded to achieve or the contrary.

I look at the issue differently. The European space is made up of elements that have a deeper significance than this. Such as the living heritage of European culture (especially literature) that though defined by national diversity still gives witness to centuries of shared experiences.

Shaped as the latter have been by historical forces, since Greek and Roman times as well as today, they have created sentiments among European nations that are not “common” to them in the same manner, but that strongly resemble each other – in the ways by which peoples consider life, and how they wish to live and enjoy it.

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