Point 1 ` Public Finances in September
This is last set of monthly public finance figures issued by the NSO before publication of the budget for 2003.` It shows that the small improvement registered in the month of September (when compared to September of last year) is little consolation to the widely off mark budget for the current financial year.
The figure quoted officially speaks of a deficit of Lm86 million but reality is that the Lm21 million extraordinary revenue from the privatisation of MIA should be added to this bringing the real deficit to Lm106 million.
`The overall projected deficit for 2002 was Lm78 million. By government`s own figures by September we were already 10% over that figure. In reality we were 36% over that figure. This is the highest deficit ever for the first 9 months. As can be seen from the accompany table it is also much higher than the deficit position left off by Labour in Sept 98 which by government`s own figures was Lm86 million (the figures for September 1998 were issued by a Nationalist administration.` It was in the last quarter of 1998 that Min Dalli cooked the books to invent a deficit of Lm150 million for the whole year to produce a deceptively inflated negative starting position).
The overall projected deficit for 2002 was Lm78 million. By government`s own figures by September we were already 10% over that figure.` In reality we were 36% over that figure.
We will not know the real December (full year) 2002 figure until well into 2003 and by then we could be living after the election.` Min Dalli in presenting his budget, with his eyes on the election, can continue what he started in 1998 and paint the figures away from reality closer to his wishes.
January - September
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
362 409 447 467 506
less MIA extraordinary item
Net ordinary Revenue
362 409 447 467 485 A
366 382 403 434 471
Public Debt Servicing
41 46 50 52 55
44 64 58 69 71
451 492 511 555 597 B
less Contribution to Sinking Funds
and loan repayments
included in Public Debt Servicing 7 7 6 6 6 C
Structural Deficit A-B+C
-82 -76 -58 -82 -106
Central Government Debt
726 858 900 1,003 1,043
Point 2 ` And that`s not all!
By no means that is the whole picture.` To that deficit one must add the expenditure being financed by the Foundation for Tomorrow`s Schools (FTS) from loan given by commercial banks against government guarantee. APS bank has approved facilities of Lm15 million for this purpose. I don`t know how much will be drawn during this year but whatever it is it forms part of the structural deficit. Schools will never produce revenue streams to repay this debt.` It was hived off to a Foundation and borrowed from the banks against government guarantee simply to enable the government to hide this expenditure so that Min Dalli can paint the figures to his heart`s content.
Incidentally the Ministry of Finance gave its approval for this loan and for a total expenditure programme of Lm60 million to be similarly funded over several years saying that ` The budgetary allocation earmarked by this Ministry for the Foundation over the coming three years is Lm3.1 million per annum`.
After deducting the operational expenditure of FTS this would not be enough to pay interest at 5.125% on Lm60 million.` The message is clear. We spend and fund ourselves from hidden borrowing, just provide for the interest payment leaving it to our successors to face the problem of repaying the capital.
FTS joins similar disaster stories of similar dead borrowing for Water Services Corporation, Freeport, Gozo ferries/Gozo Channel and God only knows how many others.
`APS bank has approved facilities of Lm15 million for this purpose. I don`t know how much will be drawn during this year but whatever it is it forms part of the structural deficit ` Point 3 ` Preaching is not enough
The Governor of the Central Bank has every right to preach that this country needs consensus in tackling its structural deficit problems. The Opposition has shown itself more than willing to do its part provided government does not continue to spend money uselessly on the EU project.` The Leader of the Opposition suggested putting aside our EU differences by postponing such decision for a few years and work together on a national approach to our structural domestic problems.
But preaching, Mr Governor is not enough. When such falsification of the Public Accounts and misrepresentation of the structural deficit is going on under your very eyes you need to do more than preaching. You need to roundly condemn such practices. You should even warn that unless the deficit is addressed and not simply camouflaged you will not hesitate to tighten monetary policy to defend against inflation generated by unsustainable and fictitious borrowings.
Point 4 ` Another Bond
Another private corporate bond is on the market as of today. For those who read the prospectus they will find out that the borrower and its group have a pretty shabby profit record and that the financial position is highly leveraged.
`When such falsification of the Public Accounts and misrepresentation of the structural deficit is going on under your very eyes you need to do more than preaching` Few people do however read and understand the prospectus. They hear the publicity and are attracted by the coupon rate in this case 6.5% which is just about 1% above what similar government bonds go at.
The risk differential from government bonds merits a much wider margin than 1% but nobody is explaining this to the retail investor. The practice to allow the issue of such bonds before introducing a serious and respectable credit rating system to guide unsophisticated investor is dangerous. After destroying the equity market mainly because aggressive issues of 2001 have gutted investors` confidence, we may be producing a similar disaster for the bond market.
Point 5 ` Buy back
Bank of Valletta will announce next Friday its full year profits for financial year to September 2002.` At current equity price level it is likely that the shares will trade at a discount to Net Asset Value and the gross dividend payout will exceed 4% of the equity price.` If BoV do not announce a share buy-back programme to protect their faithful investors they would be failing their corporate responsibility to their shareholders.
Point 6 ` Turnaround
Last week was the third consecutive week that equity markets registered an improvement from the unthinkable lows hit in the first 9 days of October.` If next week the markets register progress again it would be fair to assume that the worst is definitely over and that international equities would be headed for a substantial recovery aided by better corporate profits and low interest scenario. `Add to this the proceeds from privatisation of Mid-Med Bank Lm85 million, and MIA`s Lm40 million and the financing gap of the last 4 years increases by a further Lm125 million to Lm442 million.`
Point 7 ` National debt
To finish off please look again at the Table under Point 1. `Central Government Debt which in September 1998, where Labour government left off, was Lm726 million has now climbed to Lm1,043 million. A growth of Lm317 million in four years.
But this is only part of the story. Add to this the proceeds from privatisation of Mid-Med Bank Lm85 million, and MIA`s Lm40 million and the financing gap of the last 4 years increases by a further Lm125 million to Lm442 million.
And yet there is more. The financing gap was financed by running down the sinking funds on local loans generating one-off extraordinary revenues which have financed Lm37 million of the borrowing requirement during the years 1999 -2001 and 2002 to date. This Lm37 million should also be added to the financing bill bringing the total to Lm479 million in 4 years. Yes, the deficit which Minister Dalli generated and has procured these last 4 years and which was financed by increase in central government debt, sale of assets and extraordinary revenue from abolition of the sinking fund amounts to Lm479 million over 4years equivalent to Lm120 million average per annum.
If` to this one adds the hidden debt through bank borrowing guaranteed by central government and other funding from the Treasury Clearance Fund it is clear we are not far off from the inflated Lm150 million which John Dalli fabricated for 1998.
Increased taxes which have jammed the economy and lowered overyone`s standard of living, have just been washed away in uncontrolled expenditure.` The deficit and national debt problem are still there staring us in the eye six years after they were discovered by the incoming Labour government of 1996.
Monday, 28 October 2002
Sunday, 27 October 2002
Waqt li Malta ghaddejja minn krizi f`kull aspett tal-hajja, il-gvern iridna nitkellmu u naljenaw ruhna biss fuq l-Unjoni Ewropeja.
Hekk jaqbillu l-gvern.` Ghax jekk nitkellmu fuq il-problemi li qed jifnu l-pajjiz` il-gvern jidher gharwien. Mentri jekk nitkellmu fuq l-Unjoni Ewropeja il-gvern jipprova jevita gudizzju fuq il-krizi li wassalna fiha u minflok nitkellmu fuq il-futur li kullhadd jista` joholmu kif jidhirlu.
`Ghax jekk nitkellmu fuq il-problemi li qed jifnu l-pajjiz` il-gvern jidher gharwien` Filwaqt li nitkellmu fuq kif il-Partit Laburista jara li ghandhom ikunu l-ahjar relazzjonijiet ta` pajjizna ma l-Unjoni Ewropeja, addattati ghar-rejaltajiet taghna u bla ma nitilfu xejn mil-ftit li ghandna, irridu nitkellmu wkoll fuq l-affarijiet l-ohra li kuljum qed jifnu il-hajja ta` tant u tant maltin u ghawdxin.
Mela irridu ntambru li mhux minnu li l-gvern qed isolvi il-problemi finanzjarji tieghu.` Minkejja li ghasarna fuq li ghasarna bit-taxxi f`dawn l-ahhar erba snin, il-flus mit-taxxi ma marrux biex inaqqsu d-deficit izda biex tigi ffinanzjata nefqa dejjem tikber bla kontroll.
Meta il-Ministru Dalli minn hawn u ftit` gimghat ohra iressaq il-budget u jghid li lahaq il-miri tal-budget ta` din is-sena ikun qed jinsulta lill-verita`. Ghax mad-deficit li jiddikjara l-gvern ikun irid jizdied Lm21 miljun mill-privatizzazzjoni tal-MIA. Dawn gew mehuda bhala dhul ordinarju meta fil-fatt huma dhul straordinarju ta` darba li ma jirrepetix ruhu u ghalhekk m`ghandhomx jitnaqqsu mid-deficit izda ghandhom jittiehdu bhala finanzjament tad-deficit. `Meta il-Ministru Dalli minn hawn u ftit` gimghat ohra iressaq il-budget u jghid li lahaq il-miri tal-budget ta` din is-sena ikun qed jinsulta lill-verita
Ma dan irid jizdied ukoll mill-anqas Lm15 il-miljun ohra. Dan huwa infiq li qed taghmel il-Fondazzjoni ghall-Iskejjel t`Ghada li qed tissellef dawn il-flus mil-banek kontra il-garanzija tal-gvern.` Dan huwa loghob bil-bzallu.` Il-bini ta` l-iskejjel huwa spiza socjali tal-gvern. Il-gvern ma jkollu l-ebda introjtu mill-iskejjel ghax f`pajjizna ix-xibka socjali li bena gvern laburista twassal biex l-edukazzjoni pubblika hija b`xejn.
Zgur li ma hemm l-ebda gustifikazzjoni ghala spiza bhal din ghandha tigi ffinanzjata barra l-budget tal-gvern centrali. Qed tigi ffinanzjata mil-banek kontra l-garanzija tal-gvern sempliciment biex id-deficit tal-gvern jidher baxx meta fil-fatt dan ghadu` qed jizdied. Ghajb ghal min qed jaghmel dawn l-istrutturi fittizji.` Ghajb ghal banek li qed jikkoperaw biex issir din il-hadma. Ghajb ghar-regolaturi monetarji u bankarji li jafu b`dan kollu u jhallu kollox ghaddej qisu m`hu xejn.` Mhux bizzejjed ghal gvernatur tal-bank centrali li jaghmel priedki biex il-gvern u l-oppozizzjoni jpoggu fuq mejda u jilhqu ftehim fuq kemm huma sostenibbli s-servizzi socjali.
Halli dan isir jekk ikun hemm rieda tajba, izda qabel il-gvernatur irid jaghmel xoghlu u johrog pubblikament jikkundanna strutturi fittizji bhal dawn. `L-Ewropa mhux kollox. Ma nhalluhiex tkun aljenazzjoni.`
Irridu nibqghu nitkellmu fuq il-krizi ambjentali. Kif il-muntanja tal-Maghtab ghadha hemm u qed tikber.` Kif il-Power Station tal-Marsa ghada qed tniggez l-arja li nibilghu man-nifs. Hemm bzonn li dan il-pajjiz ma jibqax jaccetta kollox.` Hemm bzonn li jqum fuq tieghu u jibda` l-ewwel johlom dwar dak li huwa ambjentalment mixtieq u mbaghad jahdem biex holm bhal dan iwettqu rejalta.
Jien meta nghaddi mil-coast road nohlom li flok munatnja ta` skart hemm qed nara zvilupp ippjanat b`mod ambjentalment sabih b`hafna spazji miftuha` u bil-kosta mibdula b`mod biex il-familji Maltim jistghu igawdu il-bahar u jaghmlu barbecues b`mod ordnat u kontrollat fejn kullhadd jiehu pajcir u jnaddaf biex ta`warajh ikunu jistghu jiehdu pjacir ukoll.
Nohlom li flok il-power station tal-Marsa nara il-financial district ta` Malta fejn zvilupp ta` ufficini moderni u gonna li jsebbhu l-ambjent, jakkomodaw banek internazzjonali li jigu fostna biex irendu l-pajjizna bhal centru finanzjarju internazzjonali ghall-Ewropa u l-Mediterran hekk kif Singapore huwa centru finanzjarju fl-Asja.
Jehtieg nitkellmu fuq il-krizi socjali u morali ta` pajjizna.` Fejn l-gholi tal-hajja qed jifni lill-pensjonanti taghna li ma jlahqux ma l-ispejjez ta` l-ikel u l-medici.` Li ma jsibux mis-servizzi tas-sahha pubblici il-medicini li intitolati ghalihom b`xejn u minflok ikollhom juzaw il-flus tal-hajja biex jixtru medicini li dejjem joghlew.
Nitkellmu fuq kif is-socjeta` taghna sirna li hadd ma jista` jafda lill hadd. Hadd ma jaf jekk hux ser jithallas tax-xoghol li jaghmel.` Hadd ma` hu perzwaz li l-istrutturi tal-pajjiz intenjonati biex jaghtu sens ta` gustizzja u li jippotegu lill-individwu mis-sahha tal-flus u tal-istat hux tassew effettivi. Kull min jitlef kawza l-qorti jiddubita jekk il-verdett hux gust jew giex inkwinat minn forzi tal-flus. Min imur ghand l-Ombudsman jiddibuta kemm dan se jiddefendih kif suppost wara li l-gvern wera disprezz tant evidenti ghar-rwol ta` l-Ombudsman. M`inhiex nghid li dan huwa hekk.` Qed nghid li la dahal id-dubju iridu jghaddu s-snin biex innaddfuh.
Fuq dawn jehtieg inkomplu nitkellmu. L-Ewropa mhux kollox. Ma nhalluhiex tkun aljenazzjoni.
Friday, 25 October 2002
“To gain domestic electoral support
Many euro-zone countries made substantial sacrifices to come in line with the pact. Mr Solbes recently threw the book at
But the big countries seem to have the strength to dictate terms. To gain domestic electoral support
Rather than having the book thrown at them, out comes the EU commission president, with one eye on seeking to strengthen the role of the commission and the other eye on a future role in Italian domestic politics after his stint in
The ECB must dislike being placed in a position of having to tighten monetary policy purely because political convenience suggests fiscal policy needs to be more “flexible” than is permitted by the euro bedrock pact.
But last week was a week of euro-stupidities, it seems. Even Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen could not miss the opportunity to tell us a few. Most noticeable of which was the statement that out of membership
“Jobs depend much more on our ability to attract investment, which goes after competitive and efficient locations rather than club membership badges.”
The EU’s money has become a joke but at least outside membership we would save the hugely expensive compliance costs. Jobs depend much more on our ability to attract investment, which goes after competitive and efficient locations rather than club membership badges.
As regards democracy one wonders what democracy it is which allows referendum re-runs with the side in the EU’s bad books being starved of funds that are lavishly accessed by the pro-EU faction. Are the europhiles entitled to more democracy than the euro-sceptics or are
It is time to give the Maltese electorate a real choice and not the stupid door-to-door sales talk.
Monday, 21 October 2002
Verheugen did not mince his words. He said many people are still uninformed and he will ask the Commission reinforce the communications strategy to ensure that these people will be educated to the point of being brainwashed to vote yes in the referendum.
As happened in
“On the other side of the fence there is the message of the Labour party loaded with self-confidence and belief in making our own future.”
So we are being told that EU enlargement is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If we miss it now we will not have another opportunity. Not in my lifetime told us Verheugen. Every country is seeking to join, the argument goes, so on the outside on our own we will not be able to face the challenges of globalisation which can only be faced successfully by forming part of a much large organisation.
It is a message that the more the government exposes its incompetence the more it strengthens the argument for voting yes to EU membership.
On the other side of the fence there is the message of the Labour party loaded with self-confidence and belief in making our own future. It is a message that we have done best, economically and politically, after independence and when we declared ourselves neutral attracting international investment and changing our economy from largely dependent on defence spending by foreign powers to one that competes effectively in international markets.
“The reference by Ver Heugen to ask the Commission to strengthen the communications strategy for
There is no doubt that the positive message of the MLP is much stronger and appealing than the negative fear-laden message of the PN. However the battle will not be won or lost only on the message. The media will have a great say in shaping the electorate’s decision.
And it is on the media score that Labour is and will increasingly be playing at a great disadvantage. There will be absolutely no comparison between the media resources available to deliver Labour’s message of hope against the resources available to government’s message of fear of being left out. The reference by Verheugen to ask the Commission to strengthen the communications strategy for
Probably reacting to an article I published on the same day he appeared on Xarabank appealing to Verheugen to give us the facts and let us make up our mind, he readily admitted that the EU cannot be neutral on the issue and they will make it clear that they consider membership to be a win-win situation for Malta and for the EU. Like the door-to-door salesman the EU will tell that the wares they are trying to sell us are once in a lifetime bargain which will not be repeated if the salesman walks out of the door without our signing on the dotted line. They will not allow us space to think or to listen to any other message, no matter how right or reasonable.
Clearly this will be a straight fight between the message and the media. It would be unwise to assume that the strength of the message can overcome the disadvantages of the media.
In the circumstances Labour has to consider carefully whether it would be doing itself justice to compete in such an unlevelled playing field, tilted strongly in favour of the PN and their foreign masters or to take the sensible step of promising the electorate a truly informed and level-playing field referendum where the electorate would be able to take a binding and final decision on choosing between a fully explained partnership deal which Labour will negotiate as a matter of priority once elected, and membership which the PN will ‘negotiate’ by the end of the current year.
I believe in offering the electorate a real choice, not a choice between a loaded membership based on fear that the alternative for
Sunday, 20 October 2002
The Malta Independent on Sunday
With the funding myth fully exposed for what it is, there remains the myth of inevitability that needs to be addressed to ensure that in the up-coming referendum people do not vote for EU membership for the wrong reasons.
The myth of inevitability tells us that we should stop analysing whether or not membership in the EU is in our interest. We just have to accept it as given, as a fact of life, as inevitable. Then we just have to make the most of it. So it should not matter whether the EU would be paying us hundred million or whether we will be paying them twelve million. We just have to proceed regardless full speed ahead to full membership, whatever the cost or the consequences. In the end if there is no economic opportunity for our children in Malta they will have the freedom to do like so many mezzogiorno youngsters did before them and go to work in north European countries.
Thankfully Labour`s argument that a special relationship is not only possible but also in the interest of` a sustainable relationship with EU is finding support in the Convention on the Future of Europe where its vice-president, ex-Italian PM Giuliano Amato, has specifically advocated the inclusion of such a possibility specifically with Malta in mind.
`The current Association agreement guarantees full access of our domestic manufactures to EU markets even as enlarged.` But then why should anyone doubt that there are alternatives Even the status-quo is an alternative provided it is acknowledged for what it is and adopted for the future.` The current Association agreement guarantees full access of our domestic manufactures to EU markets even as enlarged. It permits us to source our international purchases from the most competitive suppliers without obligations to finance the farm folly of the EU. It could be easily up-graded to a free-trade area excluding agriculture and fisheries.
So even without any further negotiation there is a ready alternative. With skilful and clever negotiations it could be enhanced through a give and take exercise where we participate gradually in freedom of movement of capital, services and people but always keep the lever in our hands to keep the tempo of our liberalisation fully tuned to the rate of development of our economy to ensure that no shocks are suffered which could tear apart our social fabric.` In short we would do what the Swiss have done. `With skilful and clever negotiations it could be enhanced through a give and take exercise where we participate gradually in freedom of movement of capital, services and people`
It is now clear that the urgency for Malta`s inclusion in the next enlargement is more from the EU side than our own. Malta`s accession to membership would make us share our sovereignty with the much larger EU countries losing control of our own affairs. EU membership is for the long-term. It is irreversible. As the EU continues to evolve we will be very poorly placed to withstand the evident trend for central decision making by majority rule. We will not be joining just the EU of today against known rules. We will be joining the EU of the future with rules yet unknown but which inevitably lead to weakening of our ability to influence our own affairs.
Our loss of sovereignty will be the EU`s gain. The EU is behaving towards Malta as if we have already shed away our neutrality, a wish often expressed by our Prime Minister. Rhetoric declarations that our neutrality will be safeguarded carry little value.
Just consider this.` In the first Avis of 1993 the Commission explicitly said that Malta would have to change its constitution requiring a two-thirds parliamentary majority to fulfil its membership obligations. In the second Avis of 1999 the Commission noted government`s assurance that the Maltese constitution permits membership without need of two thirds parliamentary approval but still pointed out that the neutrality provisions in the Constitution could inhibit `Malta`s participation in the future development of the Common Foreign and Security policy (CSFP). `In the first Avis of 1993 the Commission explicitly said that Malta would have to change its constitution requiring a two-thirds parliamentary majority to fulfil its membership obligations`
In recent reports the issue has disappeared altogether. Take the last report published this month about Malta`s state of readiness for membership. Reporting on Chapter 27concerning the CSFP the word neutrality is not mentioned even once. Instead the government keeps behaving as if neutrality is a dead letter in the constitution.` We are told that our Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instituted the posts of interlocutors for the Political and Security Committee and the EU Military Committee. A Liaison Officer to the EU Military Committee has also been appointed. Furthermore Malta has confirmed its preparedness to contribute the EU Rapid Intervention Force with Maltese forces being integrated into the Italian contingent. Furthermore Malta is obliged to ensure that its foreign policy orientation remains in line with the EU developing foreign and security policy.
Empty assurances about safeguarding of our neutrality are meaningless compared to the reality of its neglect by our own government.
Even before joining we are giving up for nothing the only natural resource God has endowed us with, that of having a geo-strategic importance much bigger than our size. This endowment has since time immemorial been included in the equation which enabled us to earn our living from our foreign masters or partners. Under the now near defunct Italian Financial Protocols we used to be paid handsomely for preserving our neutrality.` Before that we used to be paid for renting facilities for military or defence purpose. Now we are just about giving them for free.
Inevitability is a myth. Alternatives exist but only for a country led by a government that has the national interest at heart and who can negotiate with foreign partners as equals not as servants.
Qed terga` tqum il-kwistjoni jekk il-Kostituzzjoni ta` Malta, fejn hemm provdut li Malta hija pajjiz newtrali u non-allinjat li jahdem attivament ghal paci, hix konformi ma shubija shiha fl-UE fejn Malta trid tifforma parti mil-politika komuni dwar Foreign Affairs u Security (CSFP).
Ta` min ifakkar x`intqal b`mod ufficjali dwar din il-haga kemm mill-UE kif ukoll mill-gvern Malti.
`Fil 11 ta` Settembru ta` l-1992 il-gvern Malti kiteb hekk lill-UE:
1993 AVIS it might be necessary to amend the Constitution if Malta is to participate fully in that policy as it develops over the next few years. Any such amendment requires a two-thirds majority in parliament` The Maltese Government believes it to be in Malta`s interest to subscribe to the European Union`s foreign policy, including the eventual framing of a common defence policy which might lead in time to a common defence.`
Fi kliem semplici il-gvern Malti qal li jikkunsidra li huwa fl-interess ta` Malta li jabbanduna in-newtralita` u jaghmel poltika komuni barranija ma l-UE anke f`dik li hija difiza u mhux biss fis-sigurta` u affarijiet barranin.
Fir-risposta taghha fl-Avis ta` l-1993 l-UE qalet hekk:
`..(this) does not alter the fact that it might be necessary to amend the Constitution if Malta is to participate fully in that policy as it develops over the next few years. Any such amendment requires a two-thirds majority in parliament. The principle of neutrality and of Malta`s non-aligned status set out in the Constitution raises the problem of their compatibility with Title V of the Maastricht Treaty` and could lead to difficulties in the area of `joint action` and future co-operation on defence.`
1999 AVIS `The first article of the Constitution confirms Malta`s adherence to a policy of non-alignment and refusal to participate in any military alliance. A two-thirds majority would be required to change the Constitution.` Fit-tieni Avis ta` Frar ta` l-1999 l-UE kellha dan xi tghid fuq l-istess suggett:
Malta remains a neutral country with its strict neutrality provisions anchored in the Constitution. The first article of the Constitution confirms Malta`s adherence to a policy of non-alignment and refusal to participate in any military alliance. A two-thirds majority would be required to change the Constitution.
Although the government has stated its intention to support the objectives of the CFSP, the principle of neutrality and non-alignment set out in the Maltese Constitution could lead to difficulties in future CFSP arrangements of the Union.
Ma nahsibx li hemm wisq x`targumenta.` L-UE qalet lil-gvern Malti li biex jippartecipa fil-CFSP irid jibdel il-kostituzzjoni u jnehhi n-newtralita u non-alinjament .
Izda gara li minn dak in nhar `l hawn ma ntqal xejn izjed fuq din il-haga.` `Il-Gvern Malti baqa ghaddej u accetta il-provvedimenti kollha ta` Kapitlu 27 dwar is-CSFP u ma talab l-ebda deroga jew perjodu tranzitorju.
Izda issa Alla jbierek kullhadd donnu li bidel fehmtu u qed jghidu li n-newtralita` mhux problema. Qed jghidu li pajjizna jista` jibqa` newtrali` u non-allinjat u fl-istess hin jiehu sehem fil-poltika komuni tas-CSFP u anke jippartecipa fl-arrangamenti tad-difiza komuni.
L-ahhar rapport li hareg dwar Malta fil-fatt kellu dan xi jghid: `Ma gara xejn mill-1999 `l hawn li ghandu jbiddel l-opinjoni ta` l-UE dwar htiega ta` bdil fil-Kostituzzjoni.` Il-Kostituzzjoni ghada dik li kienet.`
`Malta has confirmed its preparedness to contribute . . to the EU Rapid Intervention Force missions (Maltese forces will be integrated into the Italian contingent).` Since last year the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instituted the posts of interlocutors for the Policy and Security Policy and the EU Military Committee. A Liaison Officer to the EU Military Committee has been appointed.`
Fil-prattika qisu n-newtralita` ta` Malta ga spiccat.` Filwaqt li bid-diskors nghidu li n-newtralita` ta` Malta tista tibqa`, fir-rejalta` igibu ruhhom qisu n-newtralita` m`ghadiex fil-kotituzzjoni. Jippretendu lijaqbzu l-bahar bil-hwejjeg bla ma jixxarbu.
Ma gara xejn mill-1999 `l hawn li ghandu jbiddel l-opinjoni ta` l-UE dwar htiega ta` bdil fil-Kostituzzjoni.` Il-Kostituzzjoni ghada dik li kienet. L-UE qed torbot lil membri taghha kollha li jkollhom Politka Barranija u ta` Sigurta` komuni u qed thalli biss` opt-outs f`dak li ghandu jaqsam mal-politka komuni ta` difiza.` Il-gvern Malti qal li kien ghalih jippartecipa anke fil-politka komuni ta` difiza u fil-fatt qed jibghat suldati Maltin fl-armata ta` l-UE taht il-bandiera taljana.
In-nazzjonalisti n-newtralita ramweha fil-landa taz-zibel.` Irridu nkunu ahna, gvern laburista gdid, li nigbruha, innadfuha, nippregjawha u nuzawha biex naqilghu x`nieklu minnha flok biex inservu l-barranin u niggieldu l-gwerer ta` haddiehor.
Friday, 18 October 2002
The Malta Independent
This evening you make a re-appearance amongst us in the seemingly endless procession of EU dignitaries who invariably warn us not to miss the next enlargement.
We do of course appreciate that your job demands that you execute the enlargement of 10 countries, Malta included, on the basis of the Nice treaty. It will not look good on you and on the Commission, if Malta opts out. `Malta`s inclusion is very much in the interest of the present members of the EU, particularly the big countries. Their voting weight will dominate EU decisions and will force small countries like us to follow their wishes even where we consider it not in our interest to do so.
`your official documents you never even attempt to make the case that membership is in Malta`s interest` In fact in your official documents you never even attempt to make the case that membership is in Malta`s interest. You only make an analysis of the extent that Malta has in actual fact deformed itself out of its natural shape to fit the EU one size fits all model, transition periods apart.
It is only in verbal pronouncements that you have a habit to overstep your official role and tell us that EU membership suits us. Till some time back you used to fan our hopes that generous funding would more than make up for the pain of adjustment to the acquis.` This has now been abandoned as the generosity of current EU members to take on their brothers from the east and the south seems to have dwindled.` The Financial Times editorially commented that whereas applicant countries have made substantial adjustment to join, existing members refuse to make the necessary adjustment for enlarging the Union. Indeed this is so. Current beneficiaries of EU farm folly continue to resist its change that would permit a much more generous deal for new members.
`So now the case for membership is no longer on how beneficial and fitting it is, but is shifting on there being no real alternative ` So now the case for membership is no longer on how beneficial and fitting it is, but is shifting on there being no real alternative.` We are told to stop thinking on exploring other alternatives and just assume that we have to accept what`s on offer, irrespective whether it is good or bad, as the only realistic way forward. We are told that we just have to make the most of it.
You yourself some time ago said that without membership Malta would be a meaningless island between Europe and Africa losing out on the globalisation process.
I would respectfully ask you to mind your language.` Or else please explain why on this meaningless island between Europe and Africa we host a dozen embassies all spending their governments` funds that cannot be justified by the miniscule volume of international trade we generate. `Please mind your language and stick your case to the official position as resulting from official documents`
The basic credentials for EU membership is upholding democratic values.` Democracy demands that people are given a fair chance to be informed on all alternatives before making their choice. The fact that Malta is the only applicant country where there is a sharp division at the political level about the membership project, should, in the name of democracy, make you take a very reserved position in pouring your wisdom upon us rather than allow us to decide on our own.` Just like the door to door salesperson you can never be impartial about the wares you are trying to sell us.
Please mind your language and stick your case to the official position as resulting from official documents. Undocumented promises of future funding and soft promises of future investments these days impress no one. And as to there being no alternative this is beyond your brief as Enlargement Commissioner. But that does not mean that alternatives do not exist. The same reason which keeps a dozen fully fledged embassies working amongst us will help us exploit alternatives that you prefer to keep out of our view.
Thursday, 17 October 2002
Dal-gvern tilef rasu.` M`ghadux jirraguna. Xhieda ta` dan hija d-determinazzjoni li jibqa` ghaddej kemm jista jkun malajr biex lill-pajjizna idahhlu membru shih fl-Unjoni Ewropeja (UE).
Jekk nidhlux jew le fl-UE hija decizjoni kbira. Decizjoni li torbot il-pajjiz ghal zmien twil hafna. Decizjoni bhal din trid tittiehed bil-kalma u wara li nkunu nfurmati bizzejjed dwar l-implikazzjonijiet kollha taghha.` Decizjoni li jehtieg niehdu bhala pajjiz maghqud kunfidenti dwar il-futur tieghu.
Dan ma jistax isehh jekk igieghluna niehdu din id-decizjoni ftit xhur jew gimghat qabel l-elezzjoni meta s-shana politika tikkarga. L-opinjonijiet diversi dwar din il-haga m'humiex maqsuma strettament skond il-partiti. Jien naf hafna nazzjonalisti li fuq l-UE jaqblu mal-Partit Laburista. Japplika wkoll l-argument vici-versa.
`Il-gvern minn dan ma jimpurtah xejn. Ma jiddejjaq xejn li fost il-pajjizi kandidati ghall-UE il-gvern taghna huwa l-aktar wiehed li ghandu mandat elettorali qadim u ghalhekk l-aktar wiehed li fadallu ghomor qasir` Il-gvern minn dan ma jimpurtah xejn. Ma jiddejjaq xejn li fost il-pajjizi kandidati ghall-UE il-gvern taghna huwa l-aktar wiehed li ghandu mandat elettorali qadim u ghalhekk l-aktar wiehed li fadallu ghomor qasir. Ma jaghtix kaz li anke jekk jirbah ir-referednum ma jkunx fadallu zmien biex id-decizjoni iwettaqa.
Is-shubija ta` Malta fl-UE ma tistax issir qabel Jannar ta` l-2004. Anke dan huwa improbbabli ghax il-process ta` ratifikazzjoni jaf jiehu ferm aktar minn sena. Izda sa Novembru 2003` il-gvern irid ixolji l-parlament u l-elezzjoni ssir sa l-ahhar ta Jannar tas-sena 2004. Ghalhekk f`Jannar 2004` `l aktar `l aktar in-nazzjonalisti jkunu ghadhom fil-gvern bhala purtinara. Zgur mhux prudenti u sewwa li Malta tiddahhal fl-UE minn gvern purtinar.
Huwa car li n-nazzjonalisti qed ipoggu l-interessi taghhom, u personalment dawk tal-Prim Ministru, qabel l-interess nazzjonali.
L-interess nazzjonali jitlob li l-gvern imur ghal referednum wara l-elezzjoni.` Ir-raguni semplici. Il-kuncett ta` referendum jippresupponi li l-gvern ghandu zmien legislattiv bizzejjed biex iwettaq id-decizjoni tal-poplu. Jekk il-mandat elettorali ma jigix mgedded qabel ir-referednum dan ma jistax isehh.
`Is-sekwenza ta` elezzjoni qabel ir-referendum hija fl-interess nazzjonali.` Is-sekwenza ta` elezzjoni qabel ir-referendum hija fl-interess nazzjonali. Jekk ghall-argument il-Partit Nazzjonalista jirbah l-elezzjoni allura jkun ferm probabbli li r-referendum imbaghad jghaddi b`magguranza kbira kif tixraq decizjoni daqshekk strategika. Jekk min naha `l ohra jirbah il-Partit Laburista dan ikun jista` jmur jinnegozja ir-relazzjoni specjali li qed ifittex bla ma jkun imxekkel minn rizultat ta` referendum li jaf inaqqas` l-ispazju li jkollu bzonn biex jinnegozja tajjeb. Ghax ibqghu zguri li biex takkwista trid tinnegozja sew ghax xejn ma jigi wahdu fuq platt tal-fidda.
Izda n-nazzjonalisti jigu jaqghu u jqumu mill-interess nazzjonali. In-nazzjonalisti jharsu lejn ir-referednum bhala ghodda poltika. Filwaqt li bil-paroli jghidu li r-referendum huwa ghazla nazzjonali `l fuq mil-politika, bil-fatti ghalihom ir-referendum huwa l-uniku staffa li jista` jqabbizhom ic-cint gholi ta` l-elezzjoni.
Ghal prim ministru ir-referendum issa huwa essenzjali biex jinkuruna il-karriera politika tieghu fi tmiemha bi progett li jorbot idejn ta` warajh u jnizzluh fir-ritratti tal-istorja. X`jimporta ghal Prim Minsitru li bl-ghaggla zejda tieghu ser jimliena b`hafna frieh ghomja`
Tant huma ghamjin b`din l-istrategija li mhux jaraw il-perikli li ser jidhlu fihom. Ghax trid tkun tlift rasek biex tahseb li l-poplu ser jivvota favur ir-referednum issa li gie konfermat li ghat-tbatija kollha li ser nghaddu minnha mhu ser ikun hemm xejn fondi mill-UE.` Qabel kienu jghidu li tbatija ngorruha ghax b`kumpens ser niehdu hafna fondi.
`Meta ghad nivvutaw LE fir-referendum ma nkunux qed nghidu LE ghall-UE.` Nkunu qed nghidu LE ghas-servilizmu tan-nazzjonalisti u IVA ghal relazzjoni ta` ugwaljanza ma l-UE li tirrispetta s-sovranita` taghna.` Izda issa li gie konfermat dak li ahna ilna nghidu zmien, li m`hemmx fondi ghalina, ghalfejn jahsbu li l-poplu malti xorta ha jivvota favur shubija fir-referendum` Biex nghollu l-valur tal-propjeta` ghaz-zghazagh li jridu jixtru fejn joqghodu` Biex nitilfu l-impjiegi taghna ha nhallu l-barranin jigu jahdmu fostna Biex neqirdu il-biedja u s-sajd` Biex nigu ma nikkmandaw xejn f`pajjizna` Biex nixorbu l-luminata mil-fliexken tal-plastic halla nkomplu ngharrqu l-ambjent` Biex nitilfu l-bilanc tal-kacca u l-insib u nitilfu d-delizzju taghna waqt li l-ispanjoli u l-inglizi jibqghu joqtlu l-barri u l-volpi` Biex nghollu l-hajja, ngherru l-pensjonijiet u nbaxxu l-livell tal-hajja tal-haddiema`
Tant hemm setturi tas-socjeta` li ser jingiedmu bis-shubija fl-UE li huwa genn tan-nazzjonalisti, issa li tilfu il-kwistjoni tal-fondi, li jibqghu ghaddejjin qisu ma gara xejn. Jidher li jahsbu li bil-pubblicita` u bil-mass media f`idejhom jistghu jwerwru l-poplu malti li qarsa kemm hi qarsa l-UE fil-fatt m`hemmx alternattiva.` Mhux ta` b`xejn qed jaghmlu minn kollox biex johonqu lehen il-Partit Laburista u lehem kull min jaqbel li Malta ghandha alternattiva serja u vijabbli ghas-shubija fl-UE.` Li kien ghalihom lanqas jaghtuna cans nispjegaw xejn lill-poplu.
Jien ferm nippreferi li l-ewwel immorru ghall-elezzjoni u mhux ghal referendum u dan skond l-interess nazzjonali. Izda jekk in-nazzjonalisti jridu referendum allura nzidu, nirduppjaw u nittriplaw` il-hidma biex infehmu l-poplu li l-ghazla ta` relazzjoni specjali ma l-UE li qed joffri l-Partit Laburista hija hafna ehfef u ahjar.
Meta ghad nivvutaw LE fir-referendum ma nkunux qed nghidu LE ghall-UE.` Nkunu qed nghidu LE ghas-servilizmu tan-nazzjonalisti u IVA ghal relazzjoni ta` ugwaljanza ma l-UE li tirrispetta s-sovranita` taghna.
Monday, 14 October 2002
Joining or not joining the EU is a big decision. It would probably shape the future of this country for many legislatures to come. It is a decision that we have to take serenely on a fully informed basis. It is a decision that we should take as one nation away from the political heat of an election. The division of opinion on this matter is not strictly along party lines. There are PN supporters who are adamantly against EU membership. Equally there are Labour supporters who are quite sympathetic to it.
The government would have none of this. It gives no weight to the fact that its mandate is now four years plus old and is the most dated mandate of all the governments of candidate countries for EU membership. It cares nothing that it has no tenure to execute the mandate of a referendum.
The earliest enlargement can take place is January 2004. This legislature has to terminate by November 2003 and at best in January 2004 the government would have care-taker status; hardly the sort of mandate required for taking such an eventful step that could be undone just one month later if the government loses the election.
“It is clear that government is putting party interest, and personal interest of the PM, before the national interest.”
The national interest demands that this country goes to an election before facing a referendum. The reason is simple. A referendum presumes that the government has a current mandate long enough to execute the people’s decision. This can only be the case if the electoral mandate is refreshed before the referendum.
This sequence is also in the national interest. If the PN wins the next election then the ensuing referendum in favour of EU membership would in all probability find a broad based support so much necessary for a strategic decision that could shape our future for many legislatures to come. If the MLP wins, then this country can explore alternative relationship with the EU without having decided specifically on the issue in a prior referendum. This would give a new Labour government much more room for manoeuvrability in negotiating its option with the EU.
But the PN cares nothing about the national interest. All they care is to use the referendum as a political tool. They consider the referendum as their only chance to avoid an electoral disaster considering the level of discontent among the electorate with a government that seems to have given up on all domestic problems and looks at EU membership as the cure for all our ills, whether home-made or imported.
“They are so obsessed with this strategy that they are blind to the risks it involves and the consequences it could have on the national interest”
They are so obsessed with this strategy that they are blind to the risks it involves and the consequences it could have on the national interest.
They must be mad to think that they can win the referendum when they can only present pains without any gains. Many people were supporting the pain on the expectation that upon accession the gain will be immediate and tangible in form on millions of liri of EU aid pouring over our heads. This mirage has now been identified for what it is. At best Malta’s budgetary position will be roughly neutral and at worst we could be net contributors to the tune of Lm12 million p.a.
So what are people to vote yes for:
“Voting NO in the referendum would not be voting NO for the EU. It would be voting NO to total submission and YES to Labour’s policy to seek a partnership of equals with the EU.”
So you can understand why the government is fighting tooth and nail to ensure that Labour is not allowed to explain its alternative for EU relationship and flesh it out into a realistic and doable project.
I would much prefer that the referendum be postponed till after the election. But if the government insists on putting its own interest above those of the nation, then we as Labour must double and treble our efforts not only to expose the raw deal government has got in the negotiations, but also to explain our alternative as the one most suitable for our circumstances.
Voting NO in the referendum would not be voting NO for the EU. It would be voting NO to total submission and YES to Labour’s policy to seek a partnership of equals with the EU.
Sunday, 13 October 2002
Qed noqorbu lejn zmien il-hsad. Dal-gvern li issa dahal fl-ahhar sena tieghu dalwaqt ser jidher quddiem il-poplu malti biex jaghmel il-kontijiet mieghu.
Dan ma kienx gvern bhal gvernijiet `l ohra.` Kien gvern li ha l-poter qabel iz-zmien frott ta` hidma djabolika biex mandat elettorali li l-poplu kien ta lil-partit laburista fl-1996 intemm hesrem wara biss 22 xahar.
`Il-poplu jaf li l-problema tal-hofra finanzjarja xejn ma kienet hrafa.` Dan kien gvern li kiseb il-poter bi premessi foloz. L-ewwel premessa kienet li mhux veru li pajjizna kellu l-hofra finanzjarja li Alfred Sant kien tkellem fuqha matul it-22 xahar li dan Prim Ministru. It-tieni premessa kienet li hekk kif Malta tkompli bil-progett ta` ghaqda shiha fl-Unjoni Ewropeja nibdew nibbenefikaw minn madwar mitt miljun kull sena biex inkomplu l-festa ta` xalar li kien beda l-partit nazzjonalista fil-gvern li wasslet biex il-pajjiz imtela` bid-dejn.
Il-poplu emmen lin-nazzjonalisti. Hija fin-natura tal-bniedem li dejjem lest jisma` izjed lil min igiblu ahbarijiet sbieh` milli minn ikellmu fuq il-problemi, anke jekk dawn ikunu rejalta` sagrosanta.
Illum il-poplu jaf min kellu ragun.` U jaf dan a spejjez tieghu stess. Il-poplu jaf li l-problema tal-hofra finanzjarja xejn ma kienet hrafa.` Kienet u ghada rejlata` qarsa, frott it-tmexxija hazina ta` Fenech Adami li mil-poltika ta` flus mhux problema wassal lil pajjiz ghal xifer falliment, mimli sa xfar ghajnejh bid-dejn u li jkollu jbiegh it-tezori tieghu fi privatizzazzjoni bla sens biex ilahhaq ma interessi fuq id-dejn ta` madwar sebghin miljun kull sena.
Il-poplu jaf kemm zdiedu t-taxxi f`dawn l-erba snin specjalment fuq iz-zghir u fuq il-klassi medja biex il-gvern ilahhaq ma` l-infiq tieghu bla ma qed isolvi il-problema tal-hofra tal-pajjiz li ghada hemm u qed terga` tikber. `Fi zmien il-hsad il-poplu zgur ser jiftakar li mhux talli ma gewx mitt miljun mill-UE halli nkomplu x-xalata talli dawn il-mitt miljun illum qed inhallsu d-doppju taghhom f`taxxi lil gvern li issa qed maghsur idur ghal denbu ha jara min fejn ser jaqta l-ispejjez ghax ma jistax ilahhaq`
Il-poplu jaf kif b`mod selvagg il-gvern qed inaqqas il-beneficcji socjali.` Kif ic-Children`s Allowance kwazi ma ghadix tezisti. Kif pensjonanti qed ikollhom ihallsu lura mil-pensjoni mizera taghhom sa lanqas centezmu ta` xi beneficcji li kienu hadu zejda fis-snin ta`qabel. Dan waqt li jinhafru b`mod ufficjali taxxi ta` min suppost hallas u baqa` xalata. Kif il-pensjonanti intitolati ghal medicini b`xejn mhux isibuhom mill-isptar u minflok qed ikollhom juzaw il-pensjoni biex jixtruhom privatament u b`hekk jonqsulhom il-flus biex ilhaqqu mal-hajja li dejjem toghla.
Fi zmien il-hsad il-poplu zgur ser jiftakar li mhux talli ma gewx mitt miljun mill-UE halli nkomplu x-xalata talli dawn il-mitt miljun illum qed inhallsu d-doppju taghhom f`taxxi lil gvern li issa qed maghsur idur ghal denbu ha jara min fejn ser jaqta l-ispejjez ghax ma jistax ilahhaq. Min kien ghajjar lill-gvern laburista ghax naqqas l-overtime fil-pulizja illum gie kostrett li dan l-overtime itajjru ghal kollox.
Il-gvern nazzjonalista rabat il-futur tieghu kollu ma l-progett ta` ghaqda shiha fl-Unjoni Ewropeja.` Ma nghidiliex shubija ghax bhal membru shih fl-UE Malta ma tkunx shab izda tkun haga wahda maghha.` Issa l-gvern irid li l-poplu jbierek dan il-progett.` Izda ser ikollu jersaq quddiem il-poplu u jammetti li l-weghdi tal-flus jaqghu bhal manna mis-sema ta` l-UE kienu kollha weghdi fierha.` Li flus m`hemmx u mhux se jkun hemm u jekk ma nohorgux flus mil-but bejn wiehed w` iehor nigu taghna f`taghna.
U l-popu ser jistaqsi: mela ghalfejn dawk il-weghdi kollha li saru qabel. Ghalfejn mela din l-ghaggla biex nidhlu la r-raguni li jekk ma nidhlux issa ma niehdux il-miljuni, din issa sfumat fix-xejn. Il-poplu jistaqsi: ghala ma naghtux cans lil Partit Laburista biex issa jmiss lilu jipprova li tassew tezisti triq ohra u mbaghad wara jkun jista jaghzel liema miz-zewg toroq tassew hija l-ahjar ghal pajjizna. `Fi zmien il-hsad il-poplu Malti jehtieg jemmen fih innifsu.` Jehtieg jemmen li tassew hemm triq ohra. `
Ghal dan in-nazzjonalisti ser jifthu bumbardament li mhux tassew tezisti triq ohra. Ser jghidu u ser igibu lil min jghid li it-triq laburista ta` partnership,` shubija li ma taghmilnix haga wahda indistingwibbli mill-UE,` izda li permezz taghha nikkoperaw bil-qawwi` ma xulxin,` hija holma irrejali li ma tistax titwettaq.
L-argument taghhom ser ikun li iebsa kemm hi iebsa it-triq tan-nazzjonalisti,` il-poplu malti ma ghandux ghazla hlief li jaghti lura dak kollu li kiseb mill-indipendza `l hawn u jerga` jsir ma jikkmanda xejn f`pajjizna.
Fi zmien il-hsad il-poplu Malti jehtieg jemmen fih innifsu.` Jehtieg jemmen li tassew hemm triq ohra. Jemmen li min jghidlu li m`hemmx triq ohra qed jghidlu hekk biex iqarraq halli l-poplu jghazel li jerfa` piz tqil li mhux addattat ghalina bis-suppost sagrificcji ghal uliedna.
Il-poplu malti jehtieg jemmen` li t-triq laburista hija mhux biss possibli izda hija l-ahjar triq ghalina ghax tirrispetta dak li ahna u tibni fuq il-karatteristici taghna biex lill-uliedna naghtuhom pajjiz sovran u kompettittiv fejn isibu xoghol f`pajjizna stess li minnu jistghu jghixi ta` nies.
In-nazzjonalisti ser jahsdu li zerghu.` La zerghu il-gideb u l-qerq ma jistax ikun li l-poplu Malti ma jurix ir-rabja tieghu li dahqu bih u ressquh f`xifer rovina tant li issa qed jghidulu li wahedna ma nistghux immexxu.` Il-poplu Malti ser jurihom li la ma jistghux imexxu huma hemm haddiehor li jista` jmexxi bla ma jbiegh pajjizna lil barrani.` Qed joqrob zmien il-hsad.
Friday, 11 October 2002
The Times of Malta
This paper`s editorial of October 7th, 2002 had hard words for Labour`s EU stand.` I quote `The emptiness of` Labour`s alternative is so profound, so meaningless, next to what membership of the EU is all about that it should not be all that difficult for the government to make people understand (and to) generate confidence and excitement in a project that should see Malta take its rightful place in the new Europe.`
I mean to challenge the assertion that Malta`s rightful place in the new Europe can only be taken through EU membership. I also challenge the gratuitous assertion that Labour`s alternative is profoundly and meaninglessly empty.
`I assume that the rightful place can be measured by achieving prosperity, security and employment not much inferior to EU averages.` Now that the argument about EU membership coming wrapped in generous funding has fallen away, the supporters of membership must necessarily push the argument of inevitability to justify their case.
If EU membership is an automatic claim for a rightful place in Europe why have the backward regions of Europe, mostly in the southern part of the EU Mediterranean countries, failed to find their rightful place` I assume that the rightful place can be measured by achieving prosperity, security and employment not much inferior to EU averages.` Many of these regions are far from such average measures in spite of benefiting from generous funding which will not be available to Malta.
My thesis is that it is more likely to achieve EU average standards, and hence our rightful place in Europe, through a partnership agreement, rather than true membership.` The case is built on logic. To achieve prosperity a small country like Malta, needs to secure three properties:` Differentiation, Flexibility and Leverage.
Differentiation means we can only compete effectively by being different. If we are just like the rest our economies of scale disadvantages would throw us out of the game. Flexibility will enable us to move quickly to grasp as they arise, opportunities thrown up by our policy of differentiation.` Leverage will ensure that we put into the equation of our negotiations our geo-strategic location and gently demand compensation for using these facilities to generate peace in the region rather than place them at the disposal of those that would be willing to pay us handsomely to use them for defence values. `Malta`s membership is good for the EU. The loss of our ability to leverage the geo-strategic location is their gain`
Reflection would easily lead to the conclusion that differentiation, flexibility and leverage as above described are the exact anti-thesis of EU membership that is built on principle of uniform application of common rules and policies.`
A partnership arrangement would on the other permit maximum use of differentiation, flexibility and leverage as the uniformity of application rule would not apply. The EU should be much more accommodating in meeting our needs within a partnership model than they can ever be within membership. The problem of precedent is an obstacle to negotiate concessions in the membership model which will not arise in similar strong terms in the special relationship model.
`It is time to focus on our rightful place in the world by seeking a fresh electoral mandate as soon as the final budget offer is known` `There remain two points which I can presume pro-membership readers would be quizzing me about at this stage. Why do I take it for granted that a partnership model is possible when so many visiting EU dignitaries make it a point to stress that we really have no alternative to membership` Secondly why should I be optimistic that Malta will find the internal discipline to negotiate a good special relationship package and impose on ourselves the desired level of discipline which membership would force upon us by compulsion`
Malta`s membership is good for the EU. The loss of our ability to leverage the geo-strategic location is their gain.` So the urgency for us to join is more from their side. It`s up to us not to let ourselves be rushed into an irreversible position without exploring all alternatives.` The argument that we will miss generous funding if we do not join in 2004 is now dead and buried. Like heaven, the EU can wait until it decides what shape it will emerge from the Convention and the following ICG.
Regarding our ability to negotiate a better deal outside membership I believe it` because with an electoral mandate to seek such a relationship, the EU will not be able to force membership upon us and would be more than willing to make a reasonable deal with Malta as we are too important to be disregarded. Obviously nobody will tell us so explicitly but unless we know our strengths and weaknesses we can never negotiate intelligently.
It is time to focus on our rightful place in the world by seeking a fresh electoral mandate as soon as the final budget offer is known to ensure we do not waste more time on a road which evidently, given the discontent with the economy and the negotiations, looks like leading to nowhere.
The Malta Independent
In a 130 page document about Malta`s state of readiness for becoming a full EU member there is nothing which explains in tangible form the benefits which await us for doing so.
In general the report explains to what extent have we deformed our natural characteristics to adapt them to the EU standards and what still needs to be done to achieve complete adaptation by accession date.
Few do in fact realise that the EU in its official documents does not even attempt to make an assessment of whether or not EU membership is good for Malta. Only visiting dignitaries pour on us their wisdom that membership will be very good for us and unless we join now we will not have another opportunity to do so. Occasionally they go further and tell that we really have no alternative and so whether it is good or bad is quite irrelevant. We just have to make the most of it.
`It is indeed wrong that we have brought ourselves in such cul-de-sac` It is indeed wrong that we have brought ourselves in such cul-de-sac.` In the past government made the case that the sacrifices of complying with EU acquis, designed for countries with very different characteristics from our own, were more than justified by the generous funding which EU membership will favour us with, permitting easy financing of the country`s modernisation.
The funding case has now foundered.` The Prime Minister had to admit that the seven million euro` p.a. net benefit indicated for the first three years (and this only if the temporary compensating funding will be accepted by the EU council as otherwise we will be net contributors to the extent of some 25 million euro p.a.) are a mere pittance.
Isn`t it obvious that the EU accession project needs re-evaluation What happened to past assertions that we will join only if we get the right conditions` Were they mere platitudes which could not co-exist with another oft mentioned claim that we really have no alternative`
It is obvious that the urgency for Malta to join is now from the EU side. There is nothing from our side which make it urgently compelling that we should join. `It is only logical to explore them before deciding on an irreversible road which has nothing to justify it but the pretence of our inability to run our own affairs.`
Malta is like no other applicant country.` The East European candidates need EU membership because their large agriculture sector can benefit from EU funding but more importantly because after experiencing 50 years of Russian hegemony they are eager to integrate themselves into Europe`s democratic mainstream lest Russian ambitions re-emerge once they work through their economic problems.
Cyprus has a prior order need for EU membership. They consider it as the only effective lever to push Turkish forces out of their northern territory and re-unify as a single sovereign state with guaranteed rights for minorities. This dream has eluded Cyprus for nearly 30 years.
Malta has no such higher order need neither to move away from an occupied past nor to integrate our territory. Quite the contrary. EU membership could make move forward back into our past where a sovereignty that has to be shared (sharing is very inappropriate description as it tends to imply a 50:50 arrangement whereas in fact our share would be minuscule, almost invisible) leaving us practically no control over our own affairs.
Indeed it is time to stop and reflect. Malta has alternatives. It is only logical to explore them before deciding on an irreversible road which has nothing to justify it but the pretence of our inability to run our own affairs.
Monday, 7 October 2002
“The reason why FDI is not being attracted is because we do not have the right mix of ingredients which is necessary to score successes and deliver in clear and tangible manner.”
“we will have a much more expensive outfit and the creation of more jobs for the boys in ME whilst existent resources are shifted to join the idle labour force in the public service”