The Malta Independent 13 November 2019, Wednesday

In Chile

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 7 November 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 7 days ago

Events in Chile merit the greatest attention.

When I was young, Chile was considered to be the most advanced and democratic country in Latin America, free from the grip of military dictatorship prevalent elsewhere. Both the centre right and the left considered however that the time had come for deep social reforms. The christian democrats under President Frei did their bit and were unsuccessful.

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Allende then tried to implement radical leftwing changes. He was struck off by a most brutal military coup. Its leader Pinochet ushered in a neo-liberal approach to policy. This was continued even after his dictatorship had come to an end and democracy was re-installed.

On the surface, the country was enjoying prosperity. But it remained... and still is... set on foundations which ensure that those who earn least, carry the most burdens.

In recent weeks, chaos has taken over.

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INDEPENDENT AGENCIES

The argument by which we get assured that the regulatory and executive agencies set up by the government are autonomous and run independently has become threadbare.

There exists a huge distance between the aims that are proclaimed and the reality... not just now, but ever since this doctrine was first put forward... not just in Malta but in all the countries I know of where it is declared.

If the government does not itself directly manipulate the said agencies, one can discover strong factions within it or vested interests close to it which through shared social relationships or common economic interests acquire a real control over decison-making. Meanwhile, the government overlooks what is happening or quite happily assumes that the decisions being taken are in the national interest.

Where perhaps we in Malta have shown an original streak is when regulations started being written in language that allowed the “independent” agency to interpret them in different ways, according to which decision came up. The idea that by some revision of standing regulations, the situation will improve is nothing better than pie in the sky.

Also, the quality and will of individuals chosen to run the agencies, no matter how technically qualified they happen to be, make little difference as to how a given decision goes one way and not the other.

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INTERVAL

The wait that has intervened before the EU is run by the new European Commission presided by Ursula von der Leyen should not take longer than a month. When the European Parliament turned down the nominations for Commissioner made by France, Hungary and Rumania, it put a large spanner in the machinery by which a Commission is appointed.

To complicate matters, it so happened that Rumania had a change of government and the procedure by which this country could propose to replace the candidate whose nomination had been refused, was drawn out further.

It is not the first time that the establishment of a new Commission has been delayed. Personally I am not so worried by a scenario in which the Commission is less than active. When the opposite happens, directives and regulations are driven through on a centralised basis, reducing the margins within which the smaller states can manoeuvre.

In all initiatives that successive European Commissions have followed to create a Brussels driven basis for European decisions, it was the sovereignty of the smaller states that got most cramped.  

 

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