Pro-EU voters: time to use one’s head
The determining pro-EU vote has to use its head, now more than ever, since Labour has become more difficult to read than it was in 2003 and in 2008.
Everything hinges on whether Joseph Muscat is a Eurosceptic or a convinced pro-EU integration exponent. It is unfortunate that he blinked and proved hesitant on Angela Merkel’s full endorsement of Malta’s economic success.
Let’s use our heads: Labour alleged partisan bias by Merkel because her party and the PN are both in the Popular Party. If so, then the EU is in trouble since Germany’s drive for financial rigour cannot apply to 20 out of the 27 EU members. Only seven have centre-left governments! Muscat, as a former MEP, should distance himself from the allegation against Merkel.
Muscat needs to unequivocally prove that he is in favour of greater EU integration necessary to prevent the recurrence of the great nightmares brought about by the difficulties experienced by Ireland, Spain, Greece and, to a lesser extent, France and Italy and which economically risk dangerously to be adrift of both the euro and effective participation in the Single Market.
The contrast with Malta’s successful economy couldn’t be more striking when compared to the draconian austerity measures spurred by the German Government and imposed by EU institutions on the economically drifting countries mainly of southern Europe.
Ten years from Malta’s accession to the EU, the electorate could have thought that the question of membership might not be at issue. Yet, in fact, would this be so?
Tactically, Muscat is determined to avoid the EU membership question from rearing its head at this election and what he wants Labour acquiesces to in a manner not seen since the heydays of Mintoffianism. The quick, clinical and decisive manner in which Muscat removed the ‘relevant’ presence of Anġlu Farrugia would be proof enough of that.
EU scepticism, although still rampant within Labour’s rank and file and in its media, will undoubtedly be kept in check during the campaign.
In fact, Alfred Sant, Labour’s most vociferous anti-EU campaigner, will not contest the elections and is, ironies of ironies, earmarked to contest the next MEP elections. It was Sant who recently equated the EU to the Soviet Union and its satellite countries.
The facts corroborate Merkel’s endorsement, which is reflected by authoritative local appreciation of the Government’s success in keeping us economically firmly in the EU, particularly from the commercial community.
“The country’s adoption of the euro, together with the implementation of important regulation,” stated economist Gordon Cordina in The Commercial Courier, “led to an outstandingly strong and resilient financial sector allowing the economy to retain employment levels, even during the worst of the crisis, thus avoiding the negative impact of weak labour markets”.
New Labour deputy leader, Louis Grech, confirmed his misgivings of whether the EU was good for Malta’s financial services. It is hoped that now he knows.
Tancred Tabone, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, pointed out that our booming tourism “played a major role in sustaining economic activity and accounts directly to 10 per cent of our gross domestic product”, not to mention 29 per cent of GDP if indirect impacts are considered.
Malta, therefore, is not considered an economy at risk. The GDP for 2012 is expected to grow by one per cent.
One still hears rumblings among Labour senior ministers of “renegotiating” membership conditions without any information released by Labour on what this entails.
Pro-EU Yes voters, be prepared to use your heads now more than ever since any mistake on our part now may mean the economic unravelling of so much that was achieved over the past decade of EU membership.