The gathering storm between the Polish government and the European Union will give rise to diverse dilemmas. One follows from the question regarding which sanctions the EU could deploy if it eventually decides to “punish” Poland for not behaving according to the Union’s democratic values.
The “strongest” measure would be to withdraw Poland’s voting rights. Even if all the other EU member states agree to this, how could the decision be maintained for long without provoking a greater crisis?
In the medium run, such a decision would lead to Poland’s forced departure from the Union. But how can such an option be implemented? The “technical” problems that have characterised Brexit, even in a process during which both sides agreed to negotiate an “amicable” divorce, have been easy to see.
Other sanctions could take the form of denying EU funds to Polish projects. Again, this would trigger further problems. Initially, it would hurt Poland. But then one could envisage that the Polish government would strike back, say by witholding its contributions to the Union budget.
It is curious how Professor Bannister has completely fallen out of grace with the PN. Up to some time ago, he also enjoyed the confidence of a substantial portion of the Labour camp, while the current administration gave him its support.
What happened to make the PN turn so strongly against him?
When in 1996/1997, the Labour government replaced him with Professor Scicluna, now finance minister, as chairman of the financial services centre of those days, leading PN figures took it very badly.
I had then been thoroughly unimpressed by how Professor Bannister and former finance minister John Dalli fell foul of the US when negotiating the renewal of the double taxation agreement between the two countries. At least we managed to smooth over with the Americans the mess they left behind them. The effects of the agreement we reached were felt post 1998. The Fenech Adami administration, which had created the problem in first place, got the credit for having solved it!
As far as I know, a similar situation does not obtain today.
Any judgement about Professor Bannister’s record can neither be all negative, nor all positive. He had greater success in promoting Malta’s financial services than in running a robust regulatory framework for the sector.
It is clear that when talking while carrying out our everyday chores, we utilise ever newer forms of expression, spicing them with foreign terms, usually in English.
This is a natural phenomenon that occurs all over.
The extent to which it should affect the way by which we write Maltese is not and cannot be however a simple matter. I totally disagree with those who when writing Maltese hold that they should unreservedly reflect the way by which we express ourselves – though obviously they are fully entitled to practise what they believe in.
It seems to me that written Maltese should maintain a system of rules covering what is “said” and how it is “said” that distinguishes it from spoken Maltese. This should not prevent the written language from changing with time. But it needs to do so at a much slower pace than that followed by the spoken word.