Widen­ing process is un­der threat

On 29 March this year, the United King­dom for­mally set in train the pro­ce­dures un­der Ar­ti­cle 50 of the Lisbon Treaty so as to sever its mem­ber­ship with the Euro­pean Union. Cer­tain gross po­lit­i­cal blun­ders can­not be eas­ily reme­died

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Carmelo Mif­sud Bon­nici Dr Mif­sud Bon­nici is a Na­tion­al­ist MP and former Min­is­ter

We may not agree, but this fact will cer­tainly have an ef­fect on our lives in the com­ing years. The exit will not be easy; it will en­tail ne­go­ti­a­tions. The Treaty spec­i­fies that th­ese must be con­cluded within two years, but few be­lieve that a coun­try which has been a mem­ber for 44 years can cut off its ties in such a short time­frame. The ne­go­ti­a­tions will be com­plex and fraught with dif­fi­cul­ties hard to re­solve.

Some time has elapsed since the ref­er­en­dum, but there is a gen­eral im­pres­sion that the con­se­quences of this de­ci­sion have not been suf­fi­ciently re­flected upon. It is dif­fi­cult to fore­tell all the reper­cus­sions, for reper­cus­sions there will surely be. It does not seem prob­a­ble that many con­ces­sions will be made. What is cer­tain is that there will not be ben­e­fits ac­cru­ing to ei­ther side. The loss in po­lit­i­cal unity will not en­hance peace, jus­tice and the com­mon good in our con­ti­nent.

At­ten­tion is due to cer­tain con­sid­er­a­tions. First of all on the spe­cific demo­cratic na­ture of so dras­tic a de­ci­sion be­ing taken on the ba­sis of the vote of a mere 37% of the per­sons en­ti­tled to vote, in a coun­try long deemed to be a model of the demo­cratic method of gov­er­nance. Se­condly, how could such a de­ci­sion be im­posed on two com­po­nent parts of the King­dom, Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land, who have ex­pressed them­selves against this de­ci­sion, in a coun­try with a long tra­di­tion of lib­erty? Scot­land has there­fore replied with a re­quest to hold a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum, whilst North­ern Ire­land is weigh­ing the other­wise un­think­able and hith­erto mi­nor­ity op­tion of unit­ing with the Ire­land that re­mains in the Euro­pean Union.

Cer­tain gross po­lit­i­cal blun­ders can­not be eas­ily reme­died. The ma­jor loss for Bri­tain will be that it will no longer have a voice, as Malta and all the other mem­ber states will con­tinue to have, when de­ci­sions are taken af­fect­ing the des­tinies of the con­ti­nent of which the Bri­tish Isles will con­tinue to form part. Brexit in it­self is a de­ci­sion which di­min­ishes the po­lit­i­cal weight of the con­ti­nent in a de­vel­op­ing world sit­u­a­tion in which the former bal­ances are chang­ing. It has not in­creased the rel­a­tive im­por­tance of a not too united a King­dom.

What his­toric irony. One re­mem­bers what our fore­bears went through to achieve our po­lit­i­cal in­de­pen­dence from Great Bri­tain and com­pares those birth pangs with the shal­low­ness of the Brexit cam­paign. Our pre­de­ces­sors aimed at achiev­ing po­lit­i­cal self-de­ter­mi­na­tion with­out re­nounc­ing to time-hon­oured ties which had, to a cer­tain ex­tent, given our coun­try a mind­set and po­lit­i­cal cul­ture dif­fer­ent from that of other Euro­pean coun­tries. As my grand­fa­ther, Il- Gross, put it in 1932: “We want to adopt English ways, but not such as to co­in­cide with sub­servience to Bri­tain; we want to as­sert our na­tional man­hood and to make cap­i­tal of the ad­van­tages ac­cru­ing from our con­nec­tion with the Em­pire”. There is now no doubt that our di­rect ties with the United King­dom might change and per­haps lose in their in­ten­sity. The United King­dom is now to be em­broiled in its di­vorce ne­go­ti­a­tions whilst we will be analysing the im­pli­ca­tions of a Europe in which cer­tain mem­ber coun­tries would fur­ther en­hance their in­te­gra­tion, while others re­main within the present lev­els. The United King­dom stands to lose its in­flu­ence within the Union; our coun­try is, and will con­tinue to be, in­volved in the strength­en­ing of the Union’s in­flu­ence in world af­fairs. It is a for­lorn hope that the United King­dom might re­tract its steps in the un­der­stand­ing that no ben­e­fit can be reaped out of its de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union. On our part, we must in­crease our ef­forts at making our mem­ber­ship even more use­ful for us and for the Euro­pean Union as a whole.

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