The Malta Independent 27 May 2019, Monday

European rules

Alfred Sant Monday, 22 April 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

In Malta, nobody or almost has any idea regarding what “covered bonds” refer to. We just do not use them here. In countries like Germany, Italy and Denmark they served for centuries as one way by which to finance with minimal risk highly useful projects. In the last three years, efforts were carried out to merge into a European framework the national markets within which covered bonds were being issued.

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I took part in the exercise from the European Parliament corner.

It involved a continuous struggle not to let the creation of a European framework serve as a pretext by which to choke out what had been a success in national markets. As usual, some wanted to adopt one size fits all models.

We overcame that challenge. A European single market is being created for covered bonds without the destruction of the national basis on which up to now, they have been a great success in the countries where they were launched.

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Strasbourg

My last visit to Strasbourg for the European Parliament plenary during the present mandate was dominated by two “issues”.

At the beginning of last week, there was that enormous fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. We followed it live on French television stations which gave rise to huge emotions, that I too shared. Over the years, I felt a relationship to that monument much closer than to the Eifell tower, or whatever, in what they symbolised for me as the the basis of life in Paris.

Then, while leaving the office from which I had worked these past five years at the Strasbourg Parliament, I couldn’t but remember what had happened soon after I entered it for the first time. I got a phone call to announce the death of Anton Cassar, ex-general editor of the Union Press. I had worked closely with Anton in the field of political communciations since the year 1982. He was a gentleman par excellence, to a degree that I never met before or since.

I would have so much liked to invite him to Strasbourg as my guest.

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Alan Garcia

I saw Alan Garcia in action at a meeting of the Socialist International in Lima in 1986, during his first mandate as President of Peru. It was held in the shadow of the coup d’etat that the army was  threatening to launch. Garcia led Arpa, the social democratic party that was trying to usher social reforms in the country, against terrific resistance. Because of the coup attempt, the Socialist International meeting was about to be cancelled.

It still proceeded  even if many delegations chose not to attend. Dr Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, then Prime Minister of Malta, decided – rightly – to go. I accompanied him.

The tension in Lima was huge. In the central square fronting the Presidential Palace, military tanks were being deployed—for and against Garcia?

But he did come to address the Socialist International meeting. He explained what his government’s intentions were. In my view, he spoke well.

At a later stage, Garcia lost popular support. He changed his political orientation. Eventually he was re-elected President. I am in no position to judge about what he did then. But I was shocked by the news that he committed suicide just as he was about to be arrested on charges of corruption.  

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