The Malta Independent 26 April 2019, Friday

Brexit

Alfred Sant Thursday, 17 January 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 4 months ago

The premise that the British do not know what they want and that the Europeans stayed united during the Brexit negotiations was the baseline for the media narrative that described developments regarding Britain’s departure from the EU.

A problem however could be that while uncertainties did become a feature of the UK situation immediately the referendum result was announced, uncertainties could only now start to become a feature of the state of affairs in the EU.

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It might no longer remain just a question regarding whether or not the Europeans maintained their unity – for this could begin to sound puerile once the negotiations are completely over. The real issue could concern the economic and social impact of Brexit on the rest of Europe.

The UK has been facing enormous economic and constitutional challenges. How they will really and truly resolve them will be part of a process likely to take years.

By contrast, on the other side – the European one – it might be risky to assume that matters could proceed as they have done up to now. That cannot be taken for granted. At least, the option of muddling through in policy terms could always remain available though.

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Pork

It has been made to sound like it just came as a bolt from the blue. As recently for agriculture, the problems of pigmeat production in Malta have been highlighted. Sales have plummeted. Production costs have greatly increased while unbridled competition from European sources has drastically pushed price levels down.

I dislike having to say “We told you so” but the warning was there. There was no way pigmeat could remain viable here under the conditions of Malta’s membership of the EU... unless possibly some measures were implemented.

Such as creating a brand for Maltese pork while consistently promoting its identity. Or else by adopting European production processes in Malta, such as for instance injecting water into pig carcasses to improve their appearances and increase their weight. This would hardly be in consumers’ interests however.

To compound matters, the Russian embargos on importation of European meat products have helped to increase the supply of pigmeat in Europe, sure to be then dumped at discount prices. At the time, I had also warned this would happen.

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At Rabat

At Rabat (Malta) last Sunday it was really cold but most people were in a jovial mood.There was feelgood at the ceremony during which animals (mainly horses and ponies where I stood, as well as a donkey) were blessed. At the other side of the village, where the air felt like it was freezing, people picked their way through the open market in search for bargains.

At one shop, they were selling mulled wine! I sampled a glass. It was as good as what you buy in Brussels or Strasbourg.

People I met made it a point to comment about this or that. I was impressed by how some seemed to be apprehensive about developments in Europe. Immigration, the ugly riots in Paris, Brexit, Italy’s apparently threatening attitude towards Malta... Such matters were mentioned casually, spontaneously.

To which I gave a standard reply, easily repeated: in all we do to face the eventual challenges, we have to start by affirming our confidence in ourselves and in Malta.  

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