Malta Independent

European rules

- Alfred Sant is a Labour MEP Alfred Sant

In Malta, nobody or almost has any idea regarding what “covered bonds” refer to. We just do not use them here. In countries like Germany, Italy and Denmark they served for centuries as one way by which to finance with minimal risk highly useful projects. In the last three years, efforts were carried out to merge into a European framework the national markets within which covered bonds were being issued.

I took part in the exercise from the European Parliament corner.

It involved a continuous struggle not to let the creation of a European framework serve as a pretext by which to choke out what had been a success in national markets. As usual, some wanted to adopt one size fits all models.

We overcame that challenge. A European single market is being created for covered bonds without the destructio­n of the national basis on which up to now, they have been a great success in the countries where they were launched.


My last visit to Strasbourg for the European Parliament plenary during the present mandate was dominated by two “issues”.

At the beginning of last week, there was that enormous fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. We followed it live on French television stations which gave rise to huge emotions, that I too shared. Over the years, I felt a relationsh­ip to that monument much closer than to the Eiffel tower, or whatever, in what they symbolised for me as the the basis of life in Paris.

Then, while leaving the office from which I had worked these past five years at the Strasbourg Parliament, I couldn’t but remember what had happened soon after I entered it for the first time. I got a phone call to announce the death of Anton Cassar, ex-general editor of the Union Press. I had worked closely with Anton in the field of political communciat­ions since the year 1982. He was a gentleman par excellence, to a degree that I never met before or since.

I would have so much liked to invite himto Strasbourg as my guest.

Alan Garcia

I saw Alan Garcia in action at a meeting of the Socialist Internatio­nal in Lima in 1986, during his first mandate as President of Peru. It was held in the shadow of the coup d’etat that the army was threatenin­g to launch. Garcia led Arpa, the social democratic party that was trying to usher social reforms in the country, against terrific resistance. Because of the coup attempt, the Socialist Internatio­nal meeting was about to be cancelled.

It still proceeded even if many delegation­s chose not to attend. Dr Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, then Prime Minister of Malta, decided – rightly – to go. I accompanie­d him.

The tension in Lima was huge. In the central square fronting the Presidenti­al Palace, military tanks were being deployed—for and against Garcia?

But he did come to address the Socialist Internatio­nal meeting. He explained what his government’s intentions were. In my view, he spoke well.

At a later stage, Garcia lost popular support. He changed his political orientatio­n. Eventually he was re-elected President. I am in no position to judge about what he did then.But I was shocked by the news that he committed suicide just as he was about to be arrested on charges of corruption.

The decision in the coming elections

The decision that the Maltese will have to take in the coming European elections relates quite closely to the question: What kind of representa­tives do they wish to have in the European Parliament? Do they wish to have MEPs who focus on generating as much resistance as possible within EU institutit­ons to the government of their country? Or do they prefer MEPs who even if critical of the government of the day, exercise prudence when talking and behaving negatively about their country?

Such a question would have been deemed peculiar if during the past EP mandate, we had not witnessed the manoeuveri­ngs of Nationalis­t MEPs. They went beyond criticism and even got to the point of lobbying for a Maltese candidate to the European Court of Auditors, like Leo Brincat, to be declined the endorsemen­t of the European Parliament.

I believe that a big majority of the Maltese people disagrees with such behaviour and will ask: Who of the candidates on offer will be adopting it? Those who propose to adopt it or continue to adopt it do not deserve to be elected.

The Libyan problem

The mayhem in Libya has gone on for far too long. A country that has much to offer its citizens and neighbouri­ng peoples remains divided and paralysed. Worse, no national direction exists to truly safeguard the people’s security, while acts of violence and war are still part of everyday life.

Foreigners – among whom the Europeans – are also responsibl­e for this state of affairs. Unfortunat­ely, up to now, apart from the deep divisions among the Libyan people, the intentions of foreign powers regarding Libya still require clarificat­ion. They seem to simply want that a Libyan government is establishe­d which would be in line with their wishes and interests.

Such an aim is neither legitimate nor worthwhile. For if say, the Europeans, in their relations with Libya, have a strong interest that rightly outweighs all other considerat­ions, this would be to prevent Libya from becoming a terrorist haven.

For the rest, Europe needs to understand that in very first place, Libya has to reacquire stability. Without it, no peace, no democracy can be possible.

Patients abroad

A priceless benefit extended through the health services of our country is one by which patients who require treatment or an operation that cannot be carried out locally, are sent abroad at government expense. I guess that by now, thousands of patients have benefitted from this procedure.

Recently I talked to one of them who spent long months in the UK after undergoing an important operation. He was most grateful that the Maltese state had, effectivel­y, saved his life.

However, he told me, a person with a medical condition like his, would find him/herself totally lost when hospitalis­ed alone and abroad. I was not in this situation, he explained, for my wife and daughter came along and supported me right through. We paid for their travel and living expenses during their stay. But patients from families which cannot afford the expense will not have such support. The government does not pay for the expenses of those who accompany a patient sent abroad.

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