The Malta Independent 4 August 2021, Wednesday

Can the future be planned?

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 17 June 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Over the last forty years, the overwhelming grip that the free market concept has acquired over how economic policy is run resulted in a total loss of the prestige which planning previously enjoyed.

It makes no sense to plan for the future if the market is bound to determine which line of activity will prevail. Moreover, beyond this, decisions are bound to get taken which will – always in reaction to market outcomes – confirm unanticipated directions from which which investment and employment opportunities willl emerge. No plan – no matter who sets it up – can successfully predict such developments.


One must admit that valid arguments back this approach, especially in the context of a globalisation that is driven by the principles of  free trade.

On the other hand, even in such a framework, whoever is running an enterprise, or a national or a continental economy, must select a compass by which to direct matters. There has to be some expectation regarding how circumstances will develop. Some register must be kept as to what is performing well and less well in the “vessel” that is under guidance. Over a timespan of say five years or more,  a targeted list of the objectives to attain  should be available.

OK, let’s not call this a plan. Surely, the future is not being “planned” if such a procedure were to be followed. But a coordinated approach by which to meet the future is surely well needed. 



French President Macron’s decision to withdraw his country’s troops from Mali will provide a stronger focus for the initiative ongoing within the EU that aims to create a common European security and defence policy.

Up to now this has rumbled forward because of the support that France always wished it would get for its military sorties in Africa. Also, there was the anxiety felt by some eastern European countries about the pressures they believed they were being subjected to by Russia (whether true or not) and their need therefore to find somewhere some kind of backing. And then there were the recent disturbances that Donald Trump engineered in relations between Europe and the US.

Clearing from the table the issues that related to the problems arising from the French intervention in Mali – even though new Islamic threats are likely to arise in the Sahel – should clarify the choices that the EU faces as it continues to develop its own military policy. The road being followed is a very dangerous one.



When US President Franklin Roosevelt launched his New Deal policies to get America out of the economic and social stagnation of the 1930’s, he established a wide variety of programmes and organizations to manage the radical reforms he had in mind.

Each project would have its name abbreviated to the first letter of every word its title carried. So many abbreviations of the full names of projects began to appear that soon Roosevelt’s projects met with derision: adversaries would claim he had merely succeeded to concoct an “alphabet soup”.

I remembered this recently while taking a look at some of the EU’s working documents covering projects old and new. To understand them well, one needed to navigate around these abbreviations:


And there were others!


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