The Malta Independent 5 March 2024, Tuesday
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Book stores

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 12 February 2024, 08:00 Last update: about 22 days ago

Bookstores have practically vanished. Since I’ve been travelling regularly to Brussels these last ten years, about five to six shops I used to visit there have closed down. In Strasbourg during the same period two to three closed. The numbers are not definitive because some stores, instead of going out of business, diversify into new lines of activity which render books a “minority” item in a place that was supposedly dedicated to selling them.

In Malta the situation is hardly any better. Even the most centrally located bookstore -- in Republic Street Valletta -- has ended up like a glorified bazaar while two other shops wellknown for selling books closed down long ago. Meanwhile the University of Malta is a place where no books get sold for the stores which operated inside its grounds or close by are no longer there.

One gets told: But what’s the problem? One can so easily buy books online! Sorry, it’s not the same thing.

The same problem applies equally to newspapers. However both here and abroad, these are progressively drifting towards just electronic publication. Books meanwhile are still getting published in print format.

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AGRICULTURE

The time had long been overdue for the Maltese farming community to make a public show of its discontent. At last this happened while all over Europe farmers were organizing public protests against European policies which have been affecting them badly.

What astonished me though was how the protest of Maltese farmers adopted exactly the same language as that of the European protests. Indeed the reasons given for the discontent in Malta was a copy and paste version of the statements being made by European farmers. True, the factors that are harming the interests of French and Geman farmers also do impact farming interests locally. But more than that, the deep reason for discontent in the island follows from how membership of the EU has been killing Maltese farming.

Those who try to overlook this reality will pretend otherwise. It is not in the interests of farmers to echo their mantra.

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CAMPAIGN

One understands and agrees that the European Parliament election campaigns in member states inevitably end up revolving around national issues. A main reason for this is that European matters are felt as being too distant from the daily lives of citizens who also find them incomprehensible.

In actual fact they are matters that get to be very important when political and economic priorities are being set and these do greatly affect people’s lives.  They deserve to be discussed and evaluated in public since different political parties at European level adopt contrasting positions about which electors must decide. At some stage, voters need to be given the opportunity to understand what the major options facing Europe in the coming five years are going to be. This should be done irrespective of the partisan squabbles that are ongoing among us, like they are in the rest of Europe.

So I do regret that this is not happening at all. The EP election campaign should include a clear dimension along which candidates can show what they agree and disagree with in the plans being hatched in Brussels and Strasbourg.

                       

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