The Malta Independent 21 October 2018, Sunday

Independence

Alfred Sant Thursday, 20 September 2018, 07:51 Last update: about 30 days ago

Enough years have passed since Independence was achieved for the majority of our population no longer to have a direct personal experience of the event. The same is bound to soon happen – if indeed it is not already a fact – to Freedom Day.

By way of remembrance, it is doubtful whether the annual Independence Day celebrations are sufficiently effective to reinforce the recognition of a national identity. For this to happen, such celebrations need to be framed within a schedule of public acts and practices, even held on a routine basis, that build among the population a national sentiment. Other countries do this without any complexes, not least through the use of the educational system.

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Yet you find individuals who are against promoting enthusiasm towards the concept of the nation. Most usually, they complain that nationalism is a force which sows distrust among peoples. Inevitably, it leads to war. There are those too who consider Malta to be too tiny to be really accepted as a nation and that therefore it would be best to let it dissolve into a greater entity, such as some wider European construct.

No matter how long ago it was that the battle for Independence was won, it still proceeds.

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The new commission

Given what the European treaties lay down, the European Commission should not, in number, consist of more than two thirds the count of the EU’s member countries. All members have an equal chance from Commission to Commission, to nominate one of their citizens. Members of the Commission are to be chosen insuch a way that all regions of the Union are somehow represented in it.

For these rules to be waived, unanimous agreement between all member states is necessary.

The arrangement has been hardly mentioned up to now. The European Parliament elections have gotten the most attention. About the present Commission, a unanimous agreement was reached to retain the old method by which all countries would have “their” Commissioner. It is not clear that the same will happen the next time round. 

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Copyright

It is a huge controversy which will not die out soon: should new rules be set or not, to cover how copyright dues apply on internet output? The most recent episode in the saga was played out in the European Parliament and ended with the victory of those who believe that copyright entitlements should be enforced. People backing this perspective claim that the internet giants... Facebook and youtube among others... are making enormous profits from the adverts they attract, while riding for free on the output of journalists, writers, musicians and the rest.

Such views are contested by others who believe that the rules now being concocted to apply to the internet amount to a drag on the freedom of expression. They also consider that the rules will destroy the livelihood of people who through the internet, are creating novel forms of artistic expression and social commentary.

To my mind, solutions already exist to many of the points of criticism that have been raised in this sense. About others, reasonable compromises can be found. All in all, my conclusion has been that as of now, the priority should be to protect the rights of producers of original work.

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