PM’s political interview to
Over the weekend, the magazine Politico which focuses on news about the EU, carried an interview with Malta’s prime minister.
One can find the complete text of the interview on the website http://www.politico.eu/article/maltapm-joseph-muscat-brexit-talks-will-be-like-the-greekbailout/ or a summary on our website http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2016-1003/local-news/Brexit-talks-will-be-like-the-Greekbailout-PM-Muscat-says-in-Politico-interview6736164622
The article’s title and its initial statement juxtaposes Britain with Greece. That may have been the journalist’s choice but it gives, right from the beginning, a wrong impression. Britain is not Greece and the problems with the EU are in no way comparable.
What the journalist probably understood from the prime minister’s words was that the EU will play hardball in its coming negotiations with the UK over Brexit. In the interview Dr Muscat appears to reflect what is being said in the European Council.
In taking upon himself to reflect the opinions of his fellow leaders in the Council, the prime minister is risking taking upon himself a role that is not his (there is Donald Tusk for this) and for
which he was never delegated.
Maybe he was right in what he said, but he gained no credits for himself nor for Malta by doing so. By announcing the EU will be playing hardball, he must have overlooked the possibility that pro-UK countries are sending a different message to London. Nor does he seem to have considered the possibility of the EU sending a more temperate message in case the British are ready to seek an accommodation with regards to immigration control and freedom of movement.
After all, that is what the negotiations are all about – as there would be no negotiations otherwise. It is always a better policy to speak less before the negotiations begin and to let the talk be reserved for the negotiations themselves.
Otherwise, what the interview says later on is more or less what any well-read European would say. The point however is that Dr Muscat was being portrayed all the time as chairing the rotating presidency at the time when the UK triggers Article 50 and thus, by implication, he is portrayed as somehow having a larger role. But as Dr Muscat hurried to point out on Monday, Malta will not be leading the Brexit negotiations.
It would seem from this that Dr Muscat and