The Malta Independent 27 May 2024, Monday
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On paper

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 11 April 2024, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

The reforms that are being introduced in the tourism and restaurant sectors are necessary. They aim to ensure that workers in the sectors have a basic knowledge of the Maltese environment in which they work. If I understood correctly, the intention is to apply them to foreign workers who come from outside the EU.

The project has been widely praised. Still I doubt whether it will be effective in truly improving the current state of affairs. The reality is that tourism enterprises are finding it difficult to retain their staff and frequently need to improvise solutions. Prices for tourism services in Malta are not so competitive with those of alternative destinations even though wages in this sector are not at all lavish. A way out is being found by engaging workers from places where people are used to low wage levels.

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Actually even if tourism has continued to expand, this is not a solution that makes sense over the long term. Even less so if the necessary reforms being introduced are actually implemented, for they will raise costs. So probably they will not be enforced and will remain on paper. If they are carried out, the tourism industry will likely take a hit. Let’s hope I’m wrong,

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SOME WANT WAR, OTHERS NOT

The internal EU debate about what its defence ploicy should cover raises serious questions to which the replies being given are hardly clear. It seems as if the issue has become one of who wants war and who would rather not – of those who are quite ready to prepare for war as once it occurs, “everything” will be resolved; and those who worry about its expense, its dangers, the uncertainties of militarisation and are therefore at a loss what to decide.

Since the days long ago when the then Soviet Union invaded (and there’s no other word to describe what it did) Czechoslovakia in 1968, I doubt whether there have been so many uncertainties in Europe as there are today. Yet, hardly more than thirty years ago, the Soviet Union’s collapse was considered as an incomparable short cut to a long period of peace and stability all over Europe.

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SPRING

For people like me (up of now), who travel frequently between Malta and the centre or north of Western Europe, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of which season one is in. In Malta more often than not summer is beginning sooner, and the warm weather immediately ramps up. On the same day, one find out that in a city like Brussels grey weather is still in full course and the flowers that create colour everywhere are still those of the late winter, like tulips of all shades.

However, even for people who live there, soon the change of weather will happen all at once, and grey skies will change fast to torrid heat that will only be broken by spells of warmish rain. Spring seems to be disappearing everywhere or is present for such a short time that one almost fails to understand how it has just arived and is already leaving. Or perhaps spring never did  exist... except simply as a memory of European folklore?

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