The Malta Independent 15 October 2021, Friday

Road manners

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 20 September 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 25 days ago

The more our roads get packed with cars, the greater the number of traffic incidents, reported or overlooked. More and more people are coming face to face with issues of conflict, sympathy, solidarity, grief...

All things considered, how can a balanced judgemnt be reached about the positives and the negatives? It does depend on who one talks to.

I have met people who insist that: drivers fail to use their car indicators to show in which direction they intend to drive; drivers ignore zebra crossings; drivers indulge in careless parking without any regard for other drivers or pedestrians; no courtesy is shown towards mothers with children or the elderly; cars are driven at excessive speeds in narrow streets and corners; cars, motor cycles, bicycles and now electric scooters are driven pell-mell through places where people assemble...

And now for the assessment of others: drivers continually stop to allow passage to pedestrians in main roads where traffic lights are not functioning; in places where parking space is limited, motorists agree between them regarding how to share the available space; drivers do follow the rules set for zebra crossings...  

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DIGITAL IMPACTS

I attended a meeting of MEPs last week during which we discussed whether there was a need to change working procedures in the European Parliament, since electronic means of communication are increasingly being used.

Practically all those present were of the view that we needed to go back to how meetings were being held “previously”... that is to say, “normal” meetings at which all attendees would be physically present in the same chamber. What I found interesting was the way by which my MEP colleagues presented their arguments.

...That’s how we always worked... If we do not do this, our meetings will lose most of what gives them meaning...Parliaments function through debates and discussion that take place on a face to face basis... and so on.

All points made were valid and indeed based on the experience accumulated by Parliaments over the centuries. But one could hardly fail to wonder whether – growing up as they as they are in a digital world that is completely different from the one their predecessors lived in – the new generations of today and tomorrow will ever understand and appreciate all claims that reflect past traditions   

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EUROPEAN DEFENCE UNION

Following the defeat of “the West” in Afganistan, the call in Europe became more strident: The US is not to be trusted. Europe is an economic giant and a political and military dwarf. To face the challenges posed by China, global jihad and Russia, a new way forward is required. This can only take the form of a common defence policy for Europe.

Is this true? That seems to be the meaning of what Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated at the European Parliament. It seems to be what many European voices from the political right-centre-left are declaring. They have sufficient weight to get the idea off the ground. And the project for a common defence union could gather speed.

There might be a risk in all this that is being discounted. Could the project for a European common defence end up as another adventure similar to that of the Americans in Afghanistan?

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