The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Future of Europe

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 10 February 2020, 08:00 Last update: about 7 months ago

Replies are still pending to questions about how best to run the conference due to be held about Europe’s future. Up to some time ago, it still had been considered as a major event. I am not surprised that this is so.

As of now, I still am hardly sure as to how useful such a conference could be, except by way of providing an opportunity for a wide range of people and organizations to air their views about Europe. Many will say that this too, by itself, is quite a worthwhile arrangement. It surely should have positive consequences. And perhaps they are right to believe so.

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For it is now clear that Europe is not managing soon enough to reach decisions that are acceptable to all. You could blame this on the fact that there are 27 member states needing to agree on every topic that comes up. Or you could argue that given the variety of societies that are included in the EU’s purview, divergences have been growing not decreasing... and that such a tendency is likely to accelerate rather than slow down.

Will a conference about Europe’s future make it possible to overcome these challenges? I doubt it.

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COLLAPSE

The apparent institutional meltdown of the PN is not such a good development.

No matter how much we rail against partisanship, in a parliamentary democracy it is crucial to ensure the presence of an effective opposition – at least to keep the government of the day accountable for how it is carrying out its duties.

The problem is that a party which demonstrably has fissures, even if they are few, loses momentum. In this case, the splits are quite deep, and not just from the perspective of policy programmes, but also on a personal basis. Too many of the protagonists seem to dislike... or to distrust... each other. There could hardly be a more subversive factor at play.

Usually in a party which catches the disease of internal dissent, there is the fear of an electoral debacle which promotes a certain closing of the ranks, fragile though that might be  -- as recently happened in the British Labour Party. A similar process though does not seem to be happening within the PN.

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MONEY IN POLITICS

Much of the political activity that in the past used to be undertaken as voluntary work, has faded and has been replaced by an ever growing dependence on the media to get political messages across.  This covers both the “traditional” media – newspapers, radio and TV, as well as the social media. If initiatives in these sectors are to get the desired penetration, they need funds.

True, before this happened, money would also have been needed, but today the requirement is for much much more.

Meanwhile, there has been a persisting insistence for political actors to find their own solutions when financing their intiatives. Unless they have substantial private sources to pay for their activities, they either have to organize fundraising events, or rely on whoever is prepared to give them a financial leg-up.

Lately, concern has again been expressed about this isue. Everybody seems to wish that politicians carry out their work by being poor and by working among the poor. The sad truth is that in today’s political contests, no Saint Francis would ever stand a chance of being successful.

 

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