The Malta Independent 25 April 2019, Thursday

The end of the mandate

Alfred Sant Monday, 15 April 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 10 days ago

This week marks the end of the European Parliament’s present mandate.

With the latest compromise that member governments settled upon in order to continue with the Brexit process, it appears that the UK will be participating in the coming elections. Legally, no way could apparently be found by which to extend the stay of the UK as a member without it having to organize European elections. I wonder how significant the British people will consider this vote to be; their expectation was that the chosen way was to leave Europe, not to vote in its elections!

Other issues also raise concerns. For instance, the political groupings in the European Parliament have stuck to the proposal of nominating each a top candidate to contest elections in their name. The grouping which gets most seats, should expect to have its top candidate awarded the office of President of the European Commission. How sure is it that this will happen?

On another tack: effectively, the European Parliament has functioned in the way it has becase for much of the mandate, offically or unofficially, an alliance or a coalition was maintained between the EPP and the group of socialists and democrats. How viable will this arrangement remain in coming years?  

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GUG

All the meetings I had in past years with the committee of GUG – the organization that represents Gozo’s university students – were productive. I learnt a lot about how Gozitan youths live during their years at University, with their week straddling Malta and their native island.

Quite recently I had another meeting with them and true to form, I found it most useful. In some ways, life for Gozitan students has become more difficult. The rent for the flats where they live in Malta has become more expensive, in certain cases much more. Both for those with their own car and for those who use public transport, the time needed for travel has increased.

Regarding their future prospects, if I understood correctly, they have high expectations... if that is, they go to live in Malta. I asked about their views on the tunnel. They replied that even if it was a success, by the time it is completed, their studies would surely have come to an end. They had a point.

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Initiatives

We are again at a time when right though our islands, Good Friday displays are opened for public view, as part of initiatives undertaken by individuals and local societies. Long hours of preparation and work go into them... I suspect that more persons are involved in them than in the efforts dedicated to the celebration of Christmas.

It’s a pity that once again this year, I will hardly have the time (since the final European Parliament plenary is being held in Strasbourg up to Thursday) to view as many displays as I used to in the past. Actually with time, they have become more widespread and more varied.

Still, you encounter everywhere the same enthusiasm and commitment, not least – and this never ceases to surprise me – among young people. For one would expect that given how these displays are traditional in scope, and because they are among the life memories of  “mature” people, it would be the latter whom you’d find mostly carrying out the required labour.

It doesn’t happen quite like that. Of course, one does find older people taking part in such initiatives. Even so, I estimate that the number of younger people participating is greater.   

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