The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

Vetoing the veto

Charles Flores Sunday, 13 June 2021, 10:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Well, of course, it was a German who lit the fuse. This time in the figure of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas who came out calling for the European Union to get rid of the right for individual member states to block its foreign policy through the veto mechanism. In a nutshell, to veto the veto. That wouldn’t worry the major EU players, would it, as the first vote amply showed. The Maltese MEPs’ display of discord on this issue was confounding, to say the least, but it is symptomatic of the present nature of things as happened recently when the S&D Group in the European Parliament failed to support their affiliated Labour MEPs’ stance on the umpteenth biased EP resolution against Malta.

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If it starts from the EU bloc’s foreign and security policy rest assured it will gradually engulf the rest of all that to date is decided by sensible consensus, from agriculture and fisheries to English sausages and Italian margeritas. Again, that would not have the big member states losing any sleep given their penchant for soft-soaping, sweet-talking and buttering up the minions, and when that doesn’t work, there are always the Brussels/Strasbourg parliamentary gung-hos to isolate those who resist imposition, especially on issues the biggies deem the minions to be syphoning off small chunks from what the big, gargantuan economies gobble up on a daily basis, as in financial services, gaming and investment programmes.

And if they continue to resist, say like Ireland, Malta and others on the burning question of a common corporate tax, there will always be the funds flowing from Brussels’ mammary glands to further put them under pressure. Ironically, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” is an Orwellian quote European text books warned us against at school. Huh. A sense of old-style colonialism sadly persists in the psyche of those nations which had grudgingly ceded lands to the freedom-fighters.

Maas played the victim remarkably well. He is quoted to have said “the veto has to go, even if that means we can be outvoted” and that “we can’t let ourselves be held hostage by the people who hobble European foreign policy with their vetoes”. How distressing would that be, watching poor Germany and France being outvoted.

This robust German ire is primarily derived from the impact of a series of recent vetoes by Hungary to block various EU resolutions. OK, Viktor Orban, the Magyar Premier, hardly helps his cause when trying to ingratiate himself with the rest, and though the EPP had to mother-punish him by a tepid suspension of his party, no one should think he’s been sidelined or ideologically exiled.

While Maas referred to Budapest’s decision to block a statement accusing China of “cracking down on democracy” in Hong Kong as “absolutely incomprehensible”, of course he didn’t do the same about the EU’s shabby treatment of the Catalonian independentists just as it was no problem for the Germans and the rest of the EU to support the secession of Kosovo from Serbia.

If Maas has it his way, as seems so likely at this moment in time, all member states must be prepared for a new round of bullying, with the minion states being ignored, overlooked and rebuked at will whenever they have the courage to whimper a protest. Perhaps grunt would be the better term.

 

Excuse me?!

An English gentleman friend of mine recently took me to task for being such a fervent supporter of Scottish independence, mostly through social media posts I acknowledge and share. He said one should not interfere in other people’s affairs. Can anything be richer than that, coming from an Englishman?

“Excuse me?!” said I. This from a citizen of a country that has a history of invasions (including that of Scotland), wars, premeditated interventions for regime change, even genocides, and an imperial apetite for resources through military rule and horrendous war crimes. But how could I have the temerity of saying the Scots are right to seek a new future without the Union, especially after Brexit was imposed on them when they had actually and overwhelmingly voted against it?

Our friendship prevailed, however, and we both had a laugh discussing how British diplomats were recently told to stop referring to the “four nations of the UK” and instead refer to the Union as a single country. Even he could see the hilarity of it all, with The Sunday Times saying the idea had been put forward at a meeting hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the aim of “stengthening” links between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

According to that same Times report, civil servants working for the British Government will be “told to change the way they speak about the UK”, with references to the “four nations” being discouraged. My friends within the Scottish National Party (SNP) quickly came out condemning the revelations, saying that the change in rhetoric “would show that promises of a Union of equals have turned to dust”. Ah, Orwell again.

To add to the Scottish mystique of British affairs, the UK media reports announced that the Palace was sending Prince William and his amiable wife Kate “to rescue the Union because the royals fear politicians are losing Scotland”. Again, my Englishman friend and I dissent. For while the royals are just as unpopular/popular with the people of Scotland as they are in England and their presence will hardly affect any future referenda, is this not a political issue? I thought the English royals didn’t interfere in politics or at least that is what everyone is repeatedly told by the do-gooders in the UK media.

My friend replied with the old, hackneyed argument that Scotland cannot survive without the UK or England. It crackles instantly. If Scotland is such a drain on England, why is it they are against letting them have their independence? Ten per cent of the UK’s GDP comes from the Scottish backyard via oil.  Should Scotland achieve independence, it would be up there with the Nordic nations in terms of wealth.

The most important message for Scots to get from the new, post-WWII free nations is that independence is not for the granting, but the taking, as the history books of most ex-British colonies will tell you.

 

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