Matul l-ewwel nofs ta’ dis-sena li waslet għal tmiemha, Malta tat wirja tajba sew bħala President tal-Kunsill tal-Unjoni Ewropea. Kienet ħidma komplikata li ħafna ħasbu li l-gvern ma kienx se jlaħħaq magħha minħabba ċ-ċokon tal-pajjiż.
It-tħejjijiet li saru biex id-dmirijiet li se jinqalgħu jkunu ttrattati kif imisshom kienu metikolużi u serji mill-bidu sal-aħħar. Ir-riżultati dehru ċari. Anke f’oqsma fejn Malta ftit għandha esperjenza jew familjarità, ix-xogħol li kellu jsir twettaq b’ħila teknika.
Mill-bidu nett, jien qiest li dan kien eżerċizzju fejn il-pajjiż ħtieġlu juri ruħu kompetenti imma li s-suċċess mhux se jinżamm favurik wara; kulħadd se jinsieh. Mentri l-falliment jissarraf f’mazzra li żżommok ’l isfel. Jibqa’ l-imperattiv li toħroġ b’suċċess. Hekk għamel il-gvern Malti.
Anke jekk das-suċċess iddgħajjef malajr fil-memorja, jixraqlu li jiġi mfakkar. U fuq quddiem nett dawk l-għexieren ta’ diplomatiċi, burokratiċi u tekniċi Maltin, ħafna minnhom żgħażagħ, li fit-tmexxija tal-materji li qamu għad-diskussjoni, kienu lesti u fiduċjużi.
Kont wieħed minn dawk li bla riżervi, faħħru l-wasla tal-kumpanija Crane f’Malta bil-proġett li jwaqqfu fabrika ġdida li tipproduċi l-karti tal-flus.
Kemm ilna li dħalna fl-Unjoni Ewropea, kif ipprevedejt, l-industrija f’pajjiżna qalgħet diksata; naqset kważi bin-nofs. Li jersaq lejna investiment bħal tal-Crane kien xi ħaġa tassew mixtieqa. Kienet ovvja li dan seta’ ġara biss jekk il-gvern joffri lill-kumpanija Amerikana kondizzjonijiet vantaġġjużi.
Madankollu, l-aħbar li Crane inbiegħet lil kumpanija oħra bilfors iqajjem riżervi. Mhux għall-fatt tal-bejgħ, daqskemm għall-ispjega dwar x’ġara, spjega li ma ġietx miċħuda. Qalulna: Il-bejgħ deher tassew interessanti għall-kumpanija Amerikana li “belgħet” lil Crane għax bil-ftehim li din għamlet f’Malta, il-valur tagħha tela’ wisq aktar milli juru l-kontijiet awditajti.
X’inhu jiġri? Biex insostnu industrija ġdida fostna, issa li ninsabu membri tal-Unjoni Ewropea, se jkollna nsostnu l-investimenti minn barra b’“sussidji” li huma għolja żżejjed?
Fil-Katalunja, iċ-ċittadini vvotaw. Id-deċiżjoni tagħhom hi dik li hi. Maġġoranza urew fehma favur l-indipendenza tar-reġjun. Jien li minn barra, ma narax li din hi deċiżjoni siewja, naqbel li r-rieda tal-poplu kif espressa b’mod demokratiku, trid tiġi rispettata.
Nara li t-tattika li segwa l-Prim Ministu Rajoy u l-partit tiegħu tal-Popolari, ġiet sfiduċjata bil-kbir. Hemm bżonn ta’ bidla radikali fl-atteġġjament tal-gvern Spanjol.
Nifhem li l-qagħda li ħadet l-Unjoni Ewropea mhijiex sostenibbli. Min-naħa din tippriedka favur il-valuri “Ewropej” li jinkludu l-istat tad-dritt u l-ħelsien tal-popli biex jiddeċiedu kif se jitmexxew. U mill-oħra tinħeba meta trid, wara skużi legalistiċi biex tinjora xinhi l-volontà tal-popli.
English Version – The first half
During the first half of this year, now coming to a close, Malta performed very well in the Presidency of the EU Council. It was a complex assignment that many believed would be outside the government’s ability to manage given the island’s small size.
The preparations undertaken to ensure that the emerging obligations would be well met were meticulous and serious from beginning to end. The results were clear. Even in areas where Malta has minimal experience or with which it has no familiarity, technical competence was displayed in dealing with issues.
Right from the start, I considered that this was an exercise over which the country needed to show competence but that success would not be held to our credit later; it would be forgotten by all. By contrast, failure would turn into a difficult burden for the future. So it remained imperative to reach for success. That’s what the Malta government did.
Even if the remembrance of such success soon got blurred, the record merits a further mention. At top of the list, so does the performance of scores of diplomats, bureaucrats and technical experts from Malta, many of them young people, who were well prepared and confident when dealing with the items that came up for discussion.
I was one of those who without any reservations, praised the arrival in Malta of the Crane company and its project to invest in a new factory here that would produce paper currencies.
Since we joined the EU, as I had forecasted would happen, local industry has had a beating; it declined by close to fifty per cent. That an investment like Crane’s had been secured was a more than desirable outcome. Obviously, this could only have happened if the government had offered the American company advantageous terms.
However the news that the Crane company has now been sold to another corporation inevitably gives rise to reservations. Not because of the sale itself, as much as because of the explanation given for it – one that has not been denied. We have been told that the sale was so attractive to the company that took Crane over because the deal the latter had finalised in Malta, actually drove its real value to a much higher level than that shown in its audited financial accounts.
What is going on? In order to promote new industries in Malta as a member of the EU, shall we need to extend “subsidies” to foreign investment that are way too high?
In Catalonia, the citizens have voted. Their decision is their decision. A majority expressed a view in favour of the region’s independence. From outside, though I cannot see this as a correct decision, I agree that the will of the people as democratically set out, must be respected.
One can only conclude that the tactics followed by Prime Minister Rajoy and his Popular Party have been hugely discredited. A radical change needs to occur in the approach adopted by the Spanish government.
My understanding too is that the position taken by the EU is not sustainable. On the one hand, the Union preaches in favour of “European” values that include the rule of law and the freedom of peoples to decide how they want to be governed. On the other hand, when expedient, it hides behind legalistic excuses to ignore the wish that citizens have expressed.