The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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Von der Leyen

Alfred Sant Monday, 24 June 2024, 08:00 Last update: about 24 days ago

I do not agree that Ursula von der Leyen has been an adequate President of the European Commission in the past few years. She did show certain managerial skills in how she explained and ran programmes launched by the EU which were quite big. But then too she displayed a limited ability to explain and promote them. This was even more so when she faced unexpected strategic challenges like those arising from Covid, competition from China and the Ukraine war. There is even less to say about her role in the “war” in Gaza (or better call it a massacre that unfolded in two chapters).

Von der Leyen’s problem is that she projects no political vision regarding the state of the EU as of now and regarding which direction she would want it to take. At least Roberta Metsola does this, even if in a vague way with her rather naive statements about “European values”. Von der Leyen seems restricted to the routine of a bureaucratic conceptionof Europe. Her predecessaor Jean-Claude Juncker although also guided by the German way of thinking, was of a much higher calibre.

There is no partisan colour in these comments. All the politicians mentioned belong to the European People’s Party.

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GERMAN SOCIALISTS

The results of the European Parliament elections dealt German socialists a huge blow. Never before had the peercentage of votes they obtained gotten so low, especially in areas which have been consdered as “theirs”. Even their core voters abandoned them.

A problem is that they are in a coalition government with two parties which try to pull them in opposite directions. The disputes that this led to continually has lost them esteem and credibility. To make matters worse, decisions actually taken (or  avoided)... not least for “European” reasons... served to alienate their own voters who felt that their interests and needs were being ignored.

This helped the extreme right to pick up votes from among ex-socialist supporters. Yet, unfortunately, there were still other socialist votes which migrated to other parties while a substantial number of socialists stayed at home on voting day.

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THE BOOM IN TOURISM

This summer’s boom in tourism is not occurring in Malta only but across the Mediterranean and central Europe as well. From all over, the demand for holiday travel of European citizens to go abroad is still growing fast, despite inflation, hot temperatures that continue to rise and flaccid economic growth rates. Many destinations are getting ready to receive record numbers of tourists.

What is driving all this? Are people still making up for the frustrations caused by the Covid pandemic which kept them locked up at home? That’s difficult to believe. Have families gotten completely used to the idea that for every kind of break that they decide to take, best travel?

Clearly what is also going to happen is that no matter what advantages tourism brings in its wake, the ongoing boom will create huge inconveniences in the places where tourists visit. In some places already, existing infrastructures are buckling under the strains they are being subjected to by the usage to which they are being put.

                       

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