The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

Small firms, big firms

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 14 June 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

It is true that as is often said, in its economic and financial policies the EU attaches much importance to small and medium sized enterprises (smes). It can hardly do otherwise since they account for a substantial part of the European economy.

Numerous programmes of financial support exist in the Union, targeted to service the needs of smes.

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When proposals are being considered for some new European regulation, a lot of emphasis is also placed on proportionality – meaning that the measures being contemplated in the new law should be applied differently, according to whether an enteprise is big or small. In the second instance, it can even be exempted from provisons that apply only to the big firms.

However, in a way, this raises questions about the perspective that prevails when European laws are being drafted. It seems as if the “legislator” starts off with the assumption that measures should first of all be made to apply for big enterprises, and only then get adapted to fit the situation that small firms face. In and of itself, this method places smes in a secondary role.

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COMMEMORATION

It has become a habit not to hold official commemorations of national public holidays on the day itself but on some prior date. So long as this happens on the eve, perhaps one wouldn’t mind. Or when the public holiday coincides with some other festa, as when Freedom Day and Easter happen to cross paths.

However another reason for the displacement of official ceremonies seems to be to free up weekends. This month for example, the commemoration of the 7th. June was carried out three days before its due date, which occurred on a Monday.

I doubt whether such an approach makes sense. A national holiday usually commemorates a leading event in the country’s history. It is an element of our identity. Making its official commemoration subject to momentary convenience (even if the ceremony itself could be experienced as a boring occasion) amounts all things considered, to a symbolic devaluation of the day’s significance. 

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BIDEN IN EUROPE

European leaders are hoping that the visit to Europe of President Joe Biden this week will trigger a reactivation of the ways by which US – EU relations used to be managed in the pre-Trump era. Regular consultations used to happen across a varied range of topics by means of which both sides would seek to achieve aims that if not necessarily similar, would be convergent.

From what he has said and done up to now, it appears that Biden shares the same hope. Even before his visit, he showed a willingess to take concerete steps that meant relations would be moving along the direction that the Europeans prefer.

This would surely be better than the confusion and imbroglios that with Trump, had become a component of the euro-american scenario.

Yet the Europeans need to clarify, even among themselves, the basis on which in future, they will be defining their ties with the US. For in this future, the overriding factor will be the ever-growing competition on a global scale, between the US and China, in which the latter has the best longterm chances to end up “on top”. 

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