The Malta Independent 28 September 2020, Monday

Recommendations

Alfred Sant Monday, 23 May 2016, 08:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

We find ourselves at that period of the European semester when the European Commission, having examined the economies of the member states and issued its forecast for the rest of the year and for next year, presents its ”recommendations”. Addressed to member states, these propose what they should do differently, or better, from what is being done now, in order to satisfy the management rules of the Union and/or the eurozone. Proposals also target an improvement in the rates of economic growth.

The recommendations are discussed in the European Parliament and by the Council of Ministers. The latter decides about them and if there is agreement, recommendations become binding, at least on paper.

Year in year out, the recurring complaint – made especially in the European Parliament – is that in their great majority, recommendations either get ignored in practice, or their implementation is abandoned half way through.

Another criticism has been that the Commission comes out with too many recommendations and it is hardly possible to implement all of them; nor should they all be implemented at the same time.

This year, the Commission has responded to the last point by reducing the number of its recommendations.

I guess that the first point at issue will not go away. Indeed it is not too worrying if some recommendations get sidelined. One needs to be convinced that the European Commission has some monopoly on the provision of good advice regarding economic management in Europe.

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Farming in Gozo

As was to be expected, implementation of the EU’s common agricultural policy was detrimental to farming in Gozo. This has been screened by the subsidies that were extended, even if they did not all go to farmers.

However, there is a strategic need for Gozo’s agriculture to be kept alive and viable. The one size fits all rules that come from Europe certainly do not promote this – they undermine it. But the EU’s common agricultural policy will not fade away overnight.

What we therefore need are special initiatives designed for Gozo that fit the particular conditions of farming there, while creating products that are specific to the island.

During a recent meeting with the leaders of the cooperative of Gozitan farmers at their Gozitano complex, I was glad to see that a better awareness is now in place regarding the need for a creative strategy by which to safeguard the future of farming.

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Young people's orchestra

It’s surely not right that the European Union Youth Orchestra is going to be dismantled. The European Commission is no longer directly funding the Orchestra’s budget and has not approved financing from its funds for projects put forward by the Orchestra.

This is a pity because many young people, especially those coming from smaller countries like ours, were provided by the Orchestra with an opportunity to gain performance practice in music alongside foreign artists. Such an experience can be priceless in the development of young artists’ careers.

Last Friday, in Malta and other EU countries a symbolic protest was organised against what has been going on. The matter failed to generate much interest here.

For my part, I believe it merited attention on the scale of that mobilised for Eurovision. In saying this, I do not think I’m exagerrating.

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