The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Insularity

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 16 May 2022, 08:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

Without any doubt, the fact that the sea cuts us off from the European continent (or the African one, if you prefer) places great handicaps in the way of policies intended to better the welfare of the community that lives here. In first place, the connectivity with the “rest” of the continent is much more difficult than for other regions. Then, also linked to it, there is the small size of the local market which makes it more expensive to import items, or store and produce them as required.

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Measures which seek to compensate for the disadvantages are therefore justified. Like for instance, a tax system that is different from that of others, though it still needs to be clear and transparent.

This was a main reason why with others, I disagreed with the option of Malta’s full membership of the EU, and still believe it was a mistake. Not because the Union is a rotten institution, but because by its very nature, it has necessarily to emphasize rules that apply equally to all. For islands this can only create tensions.  

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PARTY MACHINES

The presence of political parties in the squares and streets of our communities has decreased. In fact, to communicate their messages, parties are using tools that have made that presence redundant. I admit to having been one of those who in the past, contributed to making this happen.

The consolidation of print publications and more significantly, the establishment of radio and television stations gave a new turn to the ways by which political parties communicate with citizens. I believe that these “partisan” tools remain necessary and should be maintained. Indeed later, the social media were added to them.

Within the parties, these developments had the effect of centralising power even more. Fifty years ago or so, when the party leaderships used to be considered as charismatic, indeed “authoritarian”, the party leadership could determine much less than it can today how a party is going to decide and what it shall choose.

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THE CONFERENCE ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE

Following the end of the Conference on the Future of Europe, the Malta government did well to have signed, along with other EU member states, a statement in which it declared that now, it should not automatically be concluded that the treaties which govern the Union should be changed. The intention behind such a proposed change would surely be to extend further the rule by which major decisions are not taken unanimously but by a majority of a certain size.

Guided as it was by a federalist impulse, that was the line adopted by the Conference. But in no way should it be considered that the conference had some democratic legitimacy beyond that of coming up with ideas and suggestions. In a democratic framework, its conclusions cannot bind any nation.

Clearly, in the near future, diplomatic efforts will be deployed to increase the dose of federalism in European management. I would not be too surprised if this took the format of a discussion between elites who pick and choose whom they will speak to and with whom  they will speak.

                       

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