Kien hemm żmien mhux daqstant ilu, meta l-Unjoni Ewropea kienet mitqiesa bħala organizzazzjoni li tinsab fuq quddiem nett fid-difiża tal-valuri soċjali tas-solidarjetà. Kienu jqisuha hekk unjins u għaqdiet tas-soċjetà ċivili li kienu jsibu l-appoġġ tagħha fl-oqsma tas-servizzi soċjali, tal-ħarsien tad-drittijiet tal-ħaddiema, tal-ambjent, tas-saħħa tal-familji u oħrajn. Mhux biss kienet tipproklama l-valuri imma wkoll tipproponi azzjoni fuq skala Ewropea għal kif jitwettqu.

Illum, l-Unjoni tilfet ħafna mil-lostru soċjali li kellha. Għadha tipproklama l-valuri ta’ qabel. Madankolu fil-prattika – speċjalment fiż-żona tal-ewro – qed titħabat għal miżuri (u timbottahom) li għandhom konsegwenzi soċjali negattivi fuq ħafna nies.

Dan mhux qed jiġri għax id-diriġenti Ewropej saru aktar ħorox u reazzjonarji milli kienu qabel. Qed jiġri għax il-miżuri ekonomiċi u finanzjarji li fasslu jagħtu l-aqwa importanza lill-istabbiltà finanzjarja f’soċjetà ta’ kummerċ ħieles. Qed jirnexxu f’hekk imma qed jiżirgħu fl-istess waqt iż-żerriegħa ta’ instabbiltà politika u soċjali.

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MAR-RENJU UNIT

Ilna aktar minn żewġ sekli f’relazzjoni “privileġġjata” mar-Renju Unit – fis-sens li bħala kolonja u wara l-Indipendenza, l-ekonomija u l-aspirazzjonijiet tagħna kienu marbuta qatigħ ma’ dak il-pajjiż. F’kummerċ, industrija, turiżmu, investiment, edukazzjoni teknika u professjonali, migrazzjoni, normi ta’ tmexxija – kull pass li ħadna ta’ spiss kien jirrifletti influwenzi għat-tajjeb u għall-ħażin ukoll forsi, ġejjin mir-Renju Unit.

Dawn baqgħu qawwija anke meta Malta daħlet membru taż-żona tal-ewro.

Hemm ċans li fl-aħħar dil-qagħda tinbidel bil-kbir, jekk jitwettaq il-Brexit, ikun xi jkun, artab, iebes jew bla ftehim. Għall-ewwel darba, Malta se tkun mija fil-mija marbuta ma’ sistema ta’ tmexxija, dik tal-Unjoni Ewropea, li suppost se tkun distinta għal kollox minn dik tar-Renju Unit. Meta sekli ilu, ġara hekk mal-Italja, id-distanza tagħna minn dak il-pajjiż saret ħafna akbar minn dik ġeografika.

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WOLVES

Veru, meta ta’ kull ġimgħa, joħorġu r-riżultati u jsiru l-kummentarji, il-logħbiet tal-Wolverhampton Wanderers fil-lega Ingliża tal-futboll jingħataw attenzjoni sekondarja.

Biss, għal xi ħadd tal-ġenerazzjoni tiegħi, id-dehra mill-ġdid tagħhom fl-aqwa kompetizzjoni mhi xejn ħlief mirakoluża. Qishom il-feniks li reġa’ qam u ħa l-ħajja mill-istess irmied tiegħu.

Niftakruhom mal-aqwa, jekk mhux l-aqwa, dejjem b’ċans tajjeb li jispiċċaw iċ-champions. Flimkien mal-players tal-Manchester United u forsi Arsenal, bħala tfal, konna nsibu u nġemmgħu r-ritratti tal-membri tat-tim tal-Wolves fuq il-pakketti taċ-ċereali li tiekol filgħodu.

Meta l-Wolves ġew relegati dejjem aktar ’l isfel, jien l-ewwel wieħed tlift kull interess fil-futboll Ingliż.

Issa mod ieħor. Il-Wolves qed jilagħbu tajjeb. Is-sena d-dieħla jekk jibqgħu sejrin hekk, jerġgħu ikunu mal-aqwa, jekk mhux l-aqwa.

English Version – Social debate

There was a time, not so long ago, when the EU as an institution, was considered to be at the forefront in promoting the social values of solidarity. Those who viewed it in this light included unions, as well as civil society organizations, which all got it to back them in the fields of social services, the defence of workers’ rights, the environment, family welfare and other questions. The EU would not only proclaim social values. It would also propose action at a European level toensure they were put into practice.

Today, the Union has lost much of the gloss it had gained on the social front. It still proclaims the same values as in the past. However in practice – especially within the euro zone – its efforts have been directed to propose and lobby for policies that were sure to have negative social consequences for many people.

This has not really happened because European leaders became more hardnosed and reactionary than they were in the past. The reason is that economic and financial measures have been adopted which attach the utmost importance to financial stability in societies where the principles of free trade apply. While succeeding in this aim, the same measures have sown the seeds of political and social instability.

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UK ties

For more than two centuries we have been in a “privileged” relationship with the UK – in the sense that as a colony and even after Independence, the economy as well as our aspirations were strongly linked to that country. In commerce, industry, tourism, investment, technical and professional education, migration, management norms – every step we took frequently reflected tendencies for the better and also perhaps for the worse, reaching us from the UK.

These remained quite influential even when Malta became a member of the eurozone.

But there is a likelihood now that the situation could change drastically once Brexit comes into force, no matter whether it is soft, hard or no-deal. For the first time, Malta would be totally tied into a operating system, that of the EU, which supposedly will be completely distinct from that of the UK. When centuries ago, this happened with Italy, our distance from that country became much bigger that the one determined by geography.

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Wolves

Granted: when every week the results are published and match commentaries are delivered, the games played by Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English league are given second to third place by way of attention.

However for people of my generation, their reappearance in the top competition is nothing if not miraculous. They’re like the phoenix rising out of its own ashes.

We remember their team as one of the best, if not the best, always endowed with a good probability of becoming champions. Together with the players of Manchester United and possibly Arsenal, we as children would look for and collect the photos of Wolves players on the packets of breakfast cereals.

When Wolves plunged ever deeper down the relegation spiral, I was among the first to lose interest in English football.

Now things are really looking different. The Wolves are playing well. If they keep it up, next year they should again be among the best, if not the best.