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It’s not three against three - Peter Agius

Amid the tonnes of images of European election candidates braving the heat touring every single festa in the Maltese islands, this week I was surprised to follow the supposed mattanza of MEPs David Casa and Roberta Metsola by some of the Labour party candidates on their own social media channels.

The grave sin by Casa and Metsola would be the employment of second degree relatives in the accomplishment of their mandate. Labour politicians accusing of nepotism must come in the series “incredible but true”, but the point I want to share with readers goes beyond that.

Having worked in EU institutions myself for the last 16 years, I have seen first-hand the clear difference between cacophonous circus traders and veritable European politicians who get things done for their electorate.

They may both be elected on popular support, but not all of them will give their voters their due: an effective voice and pen capable of adapting European decisions to local needs.

The mark of pedigree of the latter kin is the ability to work with others way beyond borders of party, nationality or sectors of interest. It may come as an undue complication for the Maltese champions but getting anything done in Europe requires, by default, a compromise crossing two or three political families and normally a minimum of 15 governments from the member states.

There are 751 MEPs to conquer, and conquer them we must if we are to make of European Union the tool for opportunity and prosperity

Any prospective candidate for an MEP seat should therefore gear his/her narrative to take heed of the fact that this is not a game of three vs three, with the three Maltese Labour MEPs trying to “make up for the mud-slinging” of  the three MEPs of the Nationalist Party, as declared by more than one Labour candidate.

Our ambition should go way beyond three vs three. Once we go beyond that micro-mentality we would realise that there are 751 MEPs to conquer, and that conquer them we must if we are to make of European Union the tool for opportunity and prosperity that it was meant to be on accession.

For this to happen we must turn our attention to details beyond the petty debasing of them against us, and take a long look at the choices conditioning the prospects and welfare of our children and our people at their workplace, at the grocer or at home.

Starting from the services industry, the jewel in the Maltese crown being thei-gaming industry, is seeing markets shrinking all over Europe with a supposed freedom of establishment finding no defence in European quarters.

Proceeding to the situation of Maltese farming, where most, if not all, of our farmers are seriously considering quitting for a day job away from the heartbreak of the outdated pitkali system and massive foreign imports gulping any of their remaining competitiveness.

Proceeding to the Kafkian situation with the application of our European legacy in Malta where we have 12 blue flag beaches in winter but tuna slime in summer, where we have the world best food standards and Europe’s highest pesticide readings, or where we have European rules against money laundering and damning European Banking Authority reports pointing to their infringement.

If we are to see serious solutions to the above problems and many others of their sort we need to put the outdated petty political arsenal aside and propose a real political debate around the policy choices and their possible solutions.

Anything short of that will see us electing comedians to the negotiating table. The show will come to an abrupt end as soon as the comedian is asked: what is your counter-proposal?

Peter Agius is former head of the European Parliament office in Malta.

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