The Malta Independent 19 December 2018, Wednesday

Parliamentary holidays

Alfred Sant Monday, 9 July 2018, 07:42 Last update: about 6 months ago

As of this Thursday and up to the third week of August, the European Parliament will be on summer holiday. As I see it, the Parliament has been badly affected by the political developments that are still going on in Europe. It still resonates to messages that have been running out of steam.

By next summer, new European elections will have been held. Chances are that there will be substantial changes in the mix of MEPs. The so-called “reactionary” forces of the extreme right will be strenghtened as will be those labelled euro“sceptics”. The two forces will not necessarily be pulling in the same direction.

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If there is blame to be apportioned for this, some of it should attach to the actual Parliament, among others. It continued to push a policy approach it had inherited, hatched out of a strange coalition between Martin Schulz for the social democrats and the European People’s Party. It seems like this coalition will continue to prevail in coming months.

During the break, I believe it should be necessary to give some thought to the question regarding whether more of the same will constitute the best remedy for a Europe that has lost its coherence. 

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A world that is changing

Before the parliamentary group of socialists and democrats, the vice president of the European Commission in charge of external affairs Frederica Mogherini gave a sober account of how the balance between political forces is changing in Europe and beyond.

The biggest problem, she said – and one has to agree –is the strengthening in Europe of a fierce nationalism that is undermining genuine initiatives on the continent for common policies. On a global level, it is disrupting the lines of cooperation that were established in the past.

Mogherini’s assessment is a correct one. In her work to date she has been one of the most valid of the Commission’s members. What worries me in her position is that there seems to be no recognition as to how today’s problems... now that a resurgent populism is knocking at the gates... result from approaches that the centre left and the centre right have been pursuing via a myopic coalition maintained over past  years.

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In gardens

How I (and possibly others of my generation) react to the changes that are proceeding in the natural environment of the island is inevitably different from the reactions of today’s environmentalists. Even so, we might still be on the same track for we all look forwad to a rational protection of the “natural” environment that people live in.

Now when I was a kid, in the samegarden that still exists today, lots of bees and wasps would come to visit, as well as butterflies of many colours. Today they seem to have vanished altogether.

In those days camomile shrubs would grow all over the place and were considered a “wild” plant. Today even if you throw camomile seeds in every corner, nothing seems to follow.

By contrast, lizards were then quite absent, and one cannot believe this was because cats would have killed them off. Today, and this is a pleasant development, lizards have become part of the habitat.

What I cannot understand is what would have led to these apparently contradictory developments.

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