Meta l-Ewropa kienet magħquda fi spazju Nisrani matul iż-Żminijiet tan-Nofs, il-kejl ta’ x’kien morali jew le fil-ħajja privata u publika kien l-istess kullimkien. Kellna ċentru wieħed ta’ ġudizzju u poter morali li tajjeb jew ħażin kien aċċettat minn kulħadd jew kważi. L-Ewropa kienet bħall-Iran illum.

Ma jfissirx li ma seħħewx abbużi u rewixti ta’ kull tip u minn ħafna, imma l-istabbiltà fil-valuri ta’ imġiba kienet ċara.

Bil-qawmien ta’ ħsieb li seħħ fis-Seklu tad-Dawl u bl-iskoss li qanqlet ir-Revoluzzjoni Franċiża daħlet ir-regola li wara kollox tinsab fil-Vanġelu: dak li hu ta’ Alla għal Alla, dak li hu ta’ Ċesri, lil Ċesri.

Dan ġab miegħu il-ħtieġa ta’ moralità sekulari fit-tmexxija publika u fil-ħajja privata. Il-prinċipji li jiggwidaw dil-moralità huma fluwidi. Inbidlu kemm-il darba fl-aħħar żewġ sekli. M’hemmx kunsens dwar sa fejn għandhom iwasslu. Niddubita kemm il-kunsens hu possibbli.

Forsi aħjar hekk. Il-ħajja tal-bniedem ma tistax tingħalaq fil-kxaxen ta’ regoli li qatt mhuma se jinbidlu.

“COVERED BONDS”

Ma nużawhomx f’Malta. F’pajjiżi ewlenin tal-Unjoni Ewropea jagħtu kontribut kbir ħafna lis-setturi finanzjarji. Jissejħu “covered bonds” – “ċedoli mgħottija” fi traduzzjoni litterali li ma tantx tfisser.

Jikkonsistu filli banek u istituzzjonijiet finanzjarji joħorġu self garantit permezz ta’ lott ta’ proġetti tal-aqwa valur, waqt li xorta, min qed jissellef ikun jista’ jdur lejn il-bank jew min qed joħroġhom jekk iqumu l-problemi.

Tant huma sodi dawn iċ-ċedoli li matul ir-riċessjoni tal-2008, kienu fost l-għodod finanzjarji li baqgħu l-aktar imfittxija.

Sal-lum, dejjem ħarġu fuq bażi nazzjonali. Issa, bħala parti mill-isforz biex tinħoloq għaqda tas-swieq kapitali fl-Ewropa, hemm ħidma biex il-“covered bonds” jinħarġu fuq skala Ewropea.

Qed nagħmilha ta’ rapporteur għas-soċjalisti tal-Parlament Ewropew f’dan l-eżerċizzju. Għalija, l-aqwa għan hu li niżguraw kif dak li qed jaħdem tajjeb fuq bażi nazzjonali, ma jixxekkilx b’xi sidrija Ewropea.

GIO. NICOLO MUSCAT

Ħadt sehem m’ilux ħafna fit-tnedija ta’ ktieb tal-istoriku Frans Ciappara “Church-State Relations in late eighteenth-century Malta”. Jittratta dwar Giov Nicolo Muscat, persuna li ftit kont naf dwarha qabel. Kien l-“avukat ġenerali” tal-Gran Mastru de Rohan u stinka bil-kbir biex jiddefendi l-awtonomija tat-tmexxija tal-Ordni f’kwistjonijiet ta’ natura ċivili.

Muscat hu bniedem tassew interessanti. Imma għadhom nieqsa bosta elementi tal-biografija personali u professjonali tiegħu. Frans Ciappara għamel biċċa xogħol tal-akbar siwi għax sab, ġabar u analizza b’reqqa ammirevoli l-informazzjoni dwar ħidmietu.

Nirrikommanda dal-ktieb lil kull min jinteressa ruħu fil-ġrajjiet ta’ pajjiżna, mhux l-anqas dawk li jirriflettu fuq direzzjonijiet tat-tmexxija publika.

English Version – A secular morality

When Europe was united in one Christian space during the Middle Ages, the measure of what was morally acceptable or not in public and private life was (almost) the same all over. There existed one centre with the requisite moral and judicial weight which rightly or wrongly was accepted by one and all (or again almost). Europe was not so different from today’s Iran.

Which does not mean that abuses and revolts of all kind by the many did not happen, but standards for public and private behaviour were clearly a stable affair.

The new ideas that emerged in the century of the Enlightenment and the upheavals generated by the French Revolution brought into application a rule that can be found in the New Testament after all: what is God’s, give to God – what is Caesar’s, to Caesar.

However this triggered the need for a secular morality in public affairs and the conduct of private lives. Over the last two centuries, these have changed a number of times. There is still no consensus about how far they should be taken. I doubt whether such a consensus is feasible.

Perhaps it is better like so. Human life cannot be bound within the confines of rules that should never change.

***

Covered bonds

We do not employ them in Malta. In leading European Union countries they are very important components of the financial scene, labelled “covered bonds”.

Banks and financial institutions issue them as loans that are fully guaranteed by pools of high quality projects while over and above, if problems arise, the bond purchaser still has recourse to the bank or whichever credit institution is issuing them.

Bonds of this sort are so solid that during the 2008 recession, they were among the financial instruments that retained the highest trust.

Up to now, issues have been launched on a national basis. Presently, as part of the efforts to create a capital markets union in Europe, an exercise is being undertaken to establish covered bonds on a European level.

On this matter, I’m acting as rapporteur for the S&D group in the European Parliament. As I see it, a main aim is to ensure that what is working well on a national basis does not end up being constrained by some strait jacket designed in “Europe”.

***

Gio. Nicolo Muscat

Not so long ago, I took part in the launch of “Church-State Relations in late eighteenth-century Malta”, a book by the historian Frans Ciappara. It deals with Giov Nicolo Muscat, a figure about which previously, I hardly knew anything. He served as “advocate general” to Grand Master de Rohan and laboured greatly to defend the autonomy of the Order of St John in the management of matters relating to the application of civil law in Malta.

Muscat turns out to be quite an interesting personality but many elements of his personal and professional biography are still missing. Frans Ciappara did a very valuable job for he discovered, put together and analysed with admirable acumen information about his activities.

I would strongly recommend this book to all readers with an interest in the country’s historical developments, not least those which impinged on how public policy came to be directed.