The Malta Independent 29 May 2024, Wednesday
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Changes in the European Commission

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 31 August 2023, 08:00 Last update: about 10 months ago

The current European Commission still has a year and two months in office but it is already projecting the image of an institution that is fading down. Three Commissioners will have left in recent months.

Mariya Gabriel who was responsible for research and the sciences, was asked to set up a new government in Bulgaria and resigned her post. Vice President Frans Timmermanns responsible for the Green Deal, resigned to lead a coalition of Socialists and Greens in the coming Dutch election campaign. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, charged with the EU’s competition policy, is keeping back from functioning in her post as she wishes to become President of the European Investment Bank.


The absence of Timmermanns and Vestager will make a difference. The two are endowed with a forceful personality. Both know what they want and what to do to get it. The measures laid out in the Green Deal and initiaitives undertaken in the field of competition policy were determining factors in how the profile of this Commission developed. Personally I was most impressed by Vestager, even if I did not alwys agree with her orientation. She knows how to listen and explain in measured, intelligent, coherent ways.



Complaints about there being too much traffic on our roads have continued to multiply, month after month, year after year. We thought the problem would be resolved with the construction of big new highways. That did not happen.

One reason for the mayhem which is rarely mentioned is that the Maltese people remain too fixated on cars. People cannot do without them. The more time passes, the more it has become unsatisfactory to go anywhere on foot. For the least errand, including if it is just round the corner, one prefers to go by car, even despite the parking problems that will have to be faced. As one carries out such an expedition, inevitably one will need to complain about how  traffic has become excessive.

There can only be one solution to this problem: tax cars and tax driving so heavily that people will abandon cars and start insisting that public transport become really efficient. Such a solution would be considered as political suicide and will be discarded on the basis of claims that it is socially unjust, since in the main, it would affect negatively low income earners.



Gradually, a discussion about Malta’s neutrality is again takng shape. It might be that the war in the Ukraine and the manner by which Finland and Sweden have given up on their neutral status, have revived local interest in the subject. What I have noticed is that some participants in the debate were likely I would imagine, to have been born after the neutrality clause was inserted in the Consitution in 1987, or they must have been very young children at the time.

Clearly this aspect is of interest because the perspectives that are being brought into the review would probably not be repetitions of the ancent arguments that prevailed when the merits of neutrality were still under discussion.

As it happens, I am discovering that those who argue “against” neutrality rather seem to be reproducing the same positions of those who were against in the 1970’s, while those “in favour” are producing new arguments and approaches.



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