The Malta Independent 26 May 2024, Sunday
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The European Parliament as an institution

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 15 April 2024, 07:59 Last update: about 2 months ago

While the political temperature slowly rises with the approach of the European Parliament elections, one needs to keep in mind what the role of the Parliament really is within the array of EU institutions. It is meant to serve as the direct democratic branch that links citizens to the Union’s institutions. In this, it should function as a counter-weight to the European Commission which is charged with the executive responsibiility over European programmes, and the European Council plus the Council of Ministers which together get to decide about strategic lines of European action.


The Parliament is always trying to widen the sphere of its competences in order to reflect better its “democratic” character. The other institutions seek to contain this development. In reality, the Parliament is still the weakest European institution although it has succeeded over the years to enhance its profile as a soft power centre while at times managing to raise a public consciousness over matters of interest to citizens that would otherwise have been sidelined.

From a purely Maltese perspective, the Parliament is the institution where we can exercise least influence. That Roberta Metsola was elected EP President has nothing to do with this, and even less some of the promises made by somebody or other about how from inside the EP he would provide all the right assurances about Malta’s future. In the Parliament there are just six (Maltese) representatives.  And there, neither the unanimity rule nor that of a qualified majority for decisions apply.



I met representatives of a society which protects the financial interests of European and other artists. They are responsible to collect fees due to artists on their artistic and cultural works when these are used or performed. They mentioned how recently, they had reviewed the tariffs that should apply to the works of Maltese artists updated in order to bring them in line with the inflation of the past years.

However for their conclusions to enter into force in Malta, they need to be endorsed by the Copyright Board. Now, according to these representatives, some time ago apparently a board member resigned and has not been substituted. In his absence or that of a replacement, the Board cannot function and indeed is no longer constituted. The decision to increase the tariff rates due to artists to compensate them for use of their work could not therefore be implemented.

I found it rather difficult to take this account at face value.



In Europe there exists a system by which in order to protect traditional products -- mainly farm items but not only -- regulations are set out to guarantee for them a product origin name that nobody else can borrow. An item which resembles the traditional one cannot be sold cheaply while being produced in non-traditional ways.

                        The system is prevalent in the sectors of wines, cheeses, and meats among others. In Malta we are told that this European process of certification of origin is being applied, as for honey. A number of products merit being certified in this way. Those which have acquired such certification or will be getting it, should be  accorded greater publicity on a national scale. Indeed, it would be a good idea to know who they are and to know more about them.


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