The Malta Independent 19 April 2024, Friday
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Stability and growth

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 26 February 2024, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Stability and Growth Pact is being updated, if that is the correct word for what it is being done to it. With the Pact as designed during the late 1990’s, EU member countries agreed that in the establishment of a single continental market, they would to the greatest extent possible keep their economies and finances running on the same track.

The Pact served as the Decalogue for euro zone members. A thousand difficulties were encountered since it got started, especially during the economic crisis of 2008 - 2012/3. In line with the Pact, a number of countries were obliged to launch programmes of deep austerity in order to stay solvent.

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During Covid, the Pact was suspended to allow members to deal with the pandemic. Before it would be restored, members had to consider how it could be updated. If no agreement about this could be reached, it would be run on the same basis as formerly.

An agreement to amend the Pact has been finally reached between member states and with the European Parliament. Those who claim that nothing much has changed are quite right. Supposedly, new conditions were going to be introduced to make the Pact more “socially” oriented and more “investment” friendly. One needs a stretch of the imagination if one is to agree that this has ben done.

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SOCIAL INEQUALITIES

Given the extensive range of social benefits and social security provisions prevalent here, given the growth rate of the local economiy that is quite good, and given the evident buoyancy of money in circulation, one can only find it difficult to understand how meanwhile, social inequality has been increasing.

Still, the evidence that its’ happening is there and it is being provided by organizations with credibility and they are not just the Opposition. The duty of the state – the government – is clear.

Opportunities and benefits are not becoming available to all. Indeed, some people are actually losing out because of the ongoing economic and social development. It is therefore important that where this is occurring, action is taken to prevent one and all from becoming rejects. The word “all” must be understood to include foreign workers living here as well as their families.

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ALWAYS SOME PROBLEM!

I just do not know whether I should smile or pretend not to have heard, when repeatedly complaints arise about how always (or almost) whenever a proposal for some new European law is made, the Maltese side claims that it would create too many problems for a small island. Indeed, from the Malta end, it is recognised that this is what happens, which generates sceptical irritation towards the island.

Both sides are right. The Maltese reality being what it is, rules devised on a continental scale will surely affect it in ways that whoever designed the law cannot comprehend. Nor is it reasonable to expect that the designer should change the parameters of what has been prospected because of the requirements of a small island. However, that island can hardly be expected then to keep back from doing all that needs to be done to safeguard its interests.

The argument that the rules of a continental market in the process of unification surely cannot accomodate the cirumstances of an island at the periphery is an old one. It was put in the drawer when the Maltese as a people decided in favour of the country becoming a member of the EU. But its logic and relevance have not faded at all.

                       

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