It-turiżmu wara l-pandemija

It-turiżmu kien wieħed mis-setturi li l-iktar intlaqat bħala riżultat tal-pandemija Covid-19. Tul is-snin in-numri tat-turisti li ġew iżuruna żdied kull meta tjiebet il-konnettività: min-naħa l-oħra hekk kif il-konnettività naqset u eventwalment waqfet kompletament, ġara bil-maqlub.

Iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa bdew jaslu l-ewwel turisti fil-port u l-ajruport tagħna. Bil-mod qed terġa’ tiġi stabilita l-konnettività li twassal biex it-turiżmu jibda jirpilja bil-mod. Il-Ministru tat-Turiżmu Julia Farrugia-Portelli f’dawn il-ġranet ħabbret il-mira tal-Gvern: 700,000 turist sal-aħħar tas-sena. Iktar kmieni t-tmexxija tal-Ajruport Internazzjonali ta’ Malta kienet emfasizzat li jeħtieġ madwar sentejn biex il-wasla tal-passiġġiera tirkupra u naslu fejn konna qabel ma faqqgħet il-pandemija.

Jista’ t-turiżmu qatt jilħaq il-livelli ta’ qabel il-pandemija?

Jeżistu stimi diversi dwar il-kontribut tat-turiżmu lejn l-ekonomija. Stima minnhom tipponta lejn kontribut dirett ta’ 5 fil-mija tal-ekonomija. Imma, bħala riżultat tal-impatt fuq setturi oħra dan is-sehem jitla għal madwar 12 fil-mija. Barijiet, restoranti, ħwienet li jbiegħu bl-imnut, attivitajiet pubbliċi, l-industrija tad-divertiment u t-trasport (in partikolari l-kiri tal-karozzi) huma dipendenti fuq it-turiżmu. Setturi partikolari bħat-tagħlim tal-Ingliż u ċ-ċentri tal-għaddasa huma meqjusa bħala parti integrali mill-ekonomija turistika.

Intqal ħafna dwar l-impatt tal-pandemija fuq il-lukandi. Imma anke dawk li jipprovdu sodod turistiċi barra mil-lukandi ġarrew fuq spallejhom impatt sostanzjali avolja ftit li xejn issemmew fid-dibattitu konness mal-impatti tal-pandemija. Dan huwa settur li jinvolvi negozjanti żgħar u dawk li nirreferu għalihom bħala micro-businesses li kull wieħed minnhom jimpjega inqas minn għaxar persuni.

UNCTAD, l-Aġenzija tal-Ġnus Magħquda dwar il-Kummerċ u l-Iżvilupp, iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa ħabbret li l-iġġammjar tat-turiżmu minħabba l-pandemija ser jiswa’ lill-industrija globali tat-turiżmu madwar $1.2 triljun . Din l-istima tista’ tirdoppja skond kif tiżviluppa t-tieni mewġa tal-pandemija.

Il-Ġamajka tista’ titlef madwar 11 fil-mija tal-Prodott Gross Domestiku, t-Tajlandja 9 fil-mija, l-Italja 5 fil-mija. Fl-Unjoni Ewropeja l-agħar impatti huma mal-kosta Mediterranja fejn l-ekonomija hi dipendenti ħafna fuq it-turiżmu. Minbarra Malta hemm l-Italja, l-Kroazja, is-Slovenja, Cipru u l-Greċja li kollha ntlaqtu sew. It-Turkija u t-Tunesija, parteċipanti Mediterranji fl-industrija turistika ukoll iġġammjaw, wara li gawdew minn żidiet sostanzjali fin-numri ta’ turisti tul is-snin.

Jagħmel sens li l-Gvern, f’dan il-waqt, permezz tal-Awtorità Maltija tat-Turiżmu, qiegħed jiffoka fuq li jġib lill-industrija tat-turiżmu lura fuq saqajha. Dan imma, mhux biżżejjed. Jeħtieġ li nibdew naħsbu dwar il-futur tal-industrija u dan billi neżaminaw fid-dettall dak li l-industrja teħtieġ li tiffaċċja fit-tul.

Fi tmiem is-sena li għaddiet, l-2019, ilħaqna in-numru ta’ 2.8 miljun turista iżuruna. Il-punt hu jekk dawn in-numri humiex sostenibbli. Dan hu argument ta’ dejjem li ilu għaddej sa minnmeta n-numri kienu ferm iżgħar. Id-dibattitu kien, u għandu jibqa’ jkun dwar jekk għandniex niffukaw iktar fuq il-kwalità milli fuq il-kwantità.

Il-miġja fostna tal-linji tal-ajru low-cost bħala parti essenzjali mill-politika tat-turiżmu illum tpoġġi emfasi ikbar fuq in-numri. Din hi għażla politika li saret u li teħtieġ li tkun eżaminata u analizzata fil-fond. L-impatti ekonomiċi għandhom jitqiesu fl-istess ħin mal-impatti ambjentali. Irridu niftakru kontinwament li t-turiżmu jiġġenera bosta impatti ambjentali.

Wasal iż-żmien li nirrealizzaw li d-dibattitu meħtieġ dwar il-futur tat-turiżmu jeħtieġ li jsir fl-isfond tal-Patt l-Aħdar: The Green Deal.

L-emissjonijiet tal-ajruplani ser ikollhom ikunu indirizzati fil-futur qarib. Hu inevitabbli li jiddaħħlu taxxi dwar dawn l-emissjonijiet (carbon taxes) fi żmien mhux il-bogħod. Jekk mhux ser jittieħdu passi immedjati dwar dawn l-emissjonijiet ser ikun ħafna iktar diffiċli, biex ma ngħidx impossibli, biex ikunu ndirizzati l-konklużjonijiet tas-Summit Klimatiku ta’ Pariġi tal-2015. Summit li Malta ħarġet tiftaħar li kienet wieħed mill-ewwel pajjiżi li rratifikatu. F’dak il-mument (jekk nibqgħu ma nieħdux passi) mhux biss it-turiżmu jaqla’ daqqa kbira oħra imma tkun il-kwalità tal-ħajja tagħna lkoll li tieħu daqqa l-isfel.

Il-gżejjer Maltin, bħall-parti l-kbira tal-gżejjer imxerrda mal-ibħra, ikunu minn tal-ewwel biex jaqilgħu ġo fihom l-impatti tat-tibdil fil-klima. Il-kosta tkun effettwat bl-għoli tal-livell tal-baħar. Tajjeb li niftakru li l-infrastruttura tat-turiżmu qegħda kważi kollha mal-kosta! Iktar ma ninjoraw dan il-fatt bażiku ikbar tkun id-daqqa li naqilgħu.

S’issa naħseb li kulħadd irrealizza kemm l-industrija tat-turiżmu hi waħda fraġli. Kull xokk li l-industrija issofri jista’ jwassal għal tnaqqis kbir fl-impiegi f’din l-industrija. It-turiżmu għadu staġjonali wisq u dan minnu innifsu jwassal għal kundizzjonijiet tax-xogħol ta’ natura prekarja.

Jeħtieġ li nippjanaw iżjed billi nħarsu il-bogħod u fuq medda twila ta’ żmien: naħsbu u nippjanaw sewwa dwar l-impatti soċjali, ambjentali u ekonomiċi ta’ kull deċiżjoni. Dan wara kollox hu l-proċess li jwassal għal żvilupp sostenibbli. Hu l-unika mod kif nistgħu nassiguraw li l-impatti negattivi tal-industrija tat-turiżmu nistgħu nindirizzawhom illum qabel għada.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 5 ta’ Lulju 2020

Post-Covid Tourism

Tourism is understandably one of the hardest hit sectors as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the years, tourism numbers increased substantially as a result of an increased connectivity: the reverse happened the moment that connectivity was restricted or became practically inexistent.

Earlier this week saw the first arrivals at our air and seaports. Slowly, connectivity is being restored. It is expected that tourism will now start a slow recovery. Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia-Portelli is on record with a 700,000-tourist target for year end. Malta International Airport CEO had earlier opined that it will take at least two years to recover to pre-pandemic level airport movements.

Will tourism ever recover to the pre-pandemic levels?

There are various estimates of the contribution of tourism to the economy. One such estimate points at a direct contribution of around 5 percent of our economy. However, as a result of its impacts on other sectors the overall contribution rises to around 12 percent. Bars, restaurants, retail trade, events, entertainment and transport (in particular car hire), are heavily dependent on tourism. Specific sectors such as the English language school sector as well as diving are important sectors in the tourism economy.

Much has been stated on the impact of the pandemic on the hotel industry. The providers of non-hotel beds, however, have also been heavily impacted by the pandemic, but they have not featured much in the post-Covid-19 debate. This is a sector which involves a number of small-scale investors and micro-businesses each employing less than ten employees.

UNCTAD, the UN Trade and Development Agency, earlier this week stated that the four-month standstill of the tourism industry due to the pandemic Covid-19 could cost the industry around $1.2 trillion. This estimated cost could more than double, depending on the severity and spread of a second wave of the pandemic.

Jamaica could lose as much as 11 percent of its GDP, Thailand 9 percent, Italy 5 percent. In the EU, the worst impacts are along the Mediterranean coast where the economy is heavily dependent on tourism. In addition to Malta, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Greece are also heavily impacted. Turkey and Tunisia, Mediterranean players in the tourism industry have also been almost at a standstill, after experiencing a substantial expansion of their tourism industry throughout the years.

It is understandable that government through the Malta Tourism Authority is currently focused on getting tourism back on its feet. This is however not enough. We must start discussing a long-term view of the tourism industry.

At the end of 2019 the 2.8 million mark of tourists visiting the Maltese islands had been attained. The point at issue is whether this is sustainable in the long-term. This has been a perennial issue in tourism politics since the days when the numbers were much lower. The debate was and should be whether we should focus more on quality than on quantity.

The advent of low-cost carriers as an essential part of the tourism equation places more emphasis on numbers than on quality. It is a choice which may need to be analysed and revisited. Economic impacts have to be viewed concurrently with environmental impacts. We must remember that tourism has a considerable environmental impact. It is about time that the tourism debate is carried out within the parameters of the Green Deal.

Aeroplane emissions will at some point in time in the near future have to be addressed. Carbon taxes will sooner or later come into play. Unless they are addressed immediately it will be more difficult, if not practically impossible, to address the Paris Climate Change conclusions to which Malta has adhered. At that point it will not be just the tourism industry but our whole lifestyle which will be in for the chop.

The Maltese archipelago, like all islands, will bear the brunt of climate change impacts. The coastline will be severely hit by a sea level rise. It may be pertinent to remember that the coast houses practically all of the tourism infrastructure. The longer we ignore this basic fact, the more severe will the impacts be.

By now all of us are aware that Tourism is a very volatile industry: any shock will result in mass redundancies. Tourism is currently way too seasonal, and consequently it only serves to create precarious working conditions.

It is the time to plan ahead: thinking carefully of the social, environmental and economic impacts of all decisions. This is what sustainable development is, after all, about. It is the only way to ensure that the negative impacts of the tourism industry are addressed by us sooner rather than later.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 5 July 2020

It-turiżmu għarkuptejh

It-turiżmu hu ewlieni fost l-oqsma tas-setturi ekonomiċi milquta mill-pandemija Covid-19. Dan japplika iktar għat-turiżmu tal-massa li għadu s’issa settur importanti li fuqu hi dipendenti l-industrija turistika Maltija. Julia Farrugia-Portelli, Ministru għat-Turiżmu, (flimkien mal- Ministri għat-Turiżmu tal-Italja, Ċipru, Spanja, Franza, l-Portugall, il-Greċja, ir-Rumanija u l-Bulgarija) f’laqgħa virtwali iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa fittxet kunsens biex jinħolqu kurituri siguri għat-turiżmu fit-triq lura lejn in-normalità u f’żona ħielsa mill-Covid-19.

Sfortunatament, tal-inqas fl-immedjat, irridu ngħixu mal-virus Covid-19 u l-limitazzjonijiet li ħoloq fuq il-ħajja normali tagħna. It-triq lura lejn in-normalità hi waħda twila. Ir-restrizzjonijiet straordinarji fuq ħajjitna li huma fis-seħħ presentment ma jistgħux jibqgħu għaddejjin b’mod indefinit u dan minkejja li illum huma meħtieġa.

Ir-restrizzjonijiet kważi totali imposti fil-gżejjer Maltin tul il-ġimgħat li għaddew kienu effettivi biex ikunu indirizzati il-biżgħat dwar is-saħħa. Bħala riżultat ta’ dawn ir-restrizzjonijiet, f’Malta, l-mixja tal-virus kienet imrażżna, kif jixhdu l-aħbarijiet ta’ kuljum imxandra mis-Supretendent dwar is-Saħħa Pubblika.

It-turiżmu qiegħed għarkuptejh. Prattikament waqaf, kullimkien madwar id-dinja, anke jekk temporanjament.

Fl-Unjoni Ewropea mit-turiżmu jiddependu qrib is-27 miljun impieg li jiġġeneraw madwar għaxra fil-mija tal-prodott gross nazzjonali. F’Malta u fil-pajjiżi ġirien fin-nofsinnhar tal-Ewropa, aħna dipendenti iktar mit-turiżmu mill-medja Ewopeja. Ix-xibka tad-dipendenza tal-ekonomija tagħna fuq it-turiżmu hi ferm ikbar minn hekk. It-tbatija kkawżat illum hi għaldaqstant ikbar u r-ritorn għal xi forma ta’ normalità inevitabilment tieħu iktar fit-tul.

Meta ser nirritornaw lura għan-normal? Ċertament li mhux fl-immedjat. Hu ferm dubjuż jekk din ix-xewqa għar-ritorn lejn in-normal magħruf tistax tintlaħaq, anke jekk inħarsu ftit fit-tul. Li hu żgur hu li ma hu ser jinbidel xejn mil-lum għal għada.

Iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa l-Ministri tat-Turiżmu tal-Unjoni Ewropea iddiskutew inizjattivi biex jinkuraġixxu t-turiżmu intern fl-unjoni nnifisha u dan permezz tal-ħolqien ta’ speċi ta’ passaporti tas-saħħa bejn żoni ħielsa mill-Covid-19. Sakemm tibqa’ fis-seħħ il-miżura dwar iż-żamma ta’ distanza soċjali, l-proposta mhiex waħda realistika, ta’ l-inqas għall-futur immedjat u probabbilment għal bosta xhur wara.

Sfortunatament l-ivvjaġġar b’mod ġenerali, u b’mod partikolari t-turiżmu, għandu l-potenzjal li jservi għat-tixrid tal-pandemija bl-istess mod kif fil-passat kien il-kummerċ li serva biex xtered mard ieħor f’kull rokna tad-dinja. Fid-dawl ta’ dan, hu probabbli li t-turiżmu tkun fost l-aħħar mill-attivitajiet ekonomiċi li jibdew t-triq lura għan-normal, u dan wara li l-Covid-19 tkun taħt kontroll effettiv fl-Ewropa b’mod ġenerali.

Kulħadd jifhem u japprezza l-ħeġġa tal-Ministeru tat-Turiżmu biex jonqsu r-restrizzjonijiet fuq l-ivvjaġġar u allura fuq dawk is-setturi li minnhom hi dipendenti l-industrija tat-turiżmu. Sfortunatament, iżda, fil-futur immedjat dan mhux realistiku li jintlaħaq. Hemm dubji kbar anke dwar x’jista’ jseħħ fuq tul ta’ żmien.

L-ekonomija tal-parti l-kbira tan-nofsinnhar tal-Ewropa, u in partikolari dik tal-pajjiżi Mediterranji, hi dipendenti fuq it-turiżmu u dan billi tipprovdi vaganzi bi prezzijiet raġjonevoli tul is-sena kollha għal dawk ġejjin mit-tramuntana u ċ-ċentru tal-Ewropa f’kuntest ta’ suq Ewropew wieħed. Il-miġja tal-vjaġġi b’irħis mifruxa mal-Ewropa kollha komplew kabbru l-firxa ta’ din ix-xibka ta’ dipendenza.

F’dan il-kuntest huwa ċar li ftit jista’ jsir ippjanar bil-quddiem. Hemm ħaġa waħda li hi ċara: il-futur huwa nċert u t-turiżmu għad ma nafux x’sura ser jieħu fix-xhur u fis-snin li ġejjin. It-tbatija mhux ser tintemm hekk kif nieqfu nistennew. Għax it-turiżmu qiegħed għarkuptejh.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum: il-Ħadd 3 ta’ Mejju 2020

Tourism is on its knees

Tourism has been among the hardest hit sectors of the economy as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. This applies more so to mass tourism which still constitutes an important sector on which Malta’s tourism industry is dependent. Julia Farrugia-Portelli, Minister for Tourism, (together with Tourism Ministers from Italy, Cyprus, Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria) in an online meeting earlier this week advocated the creation of safe corridors, desperately seeking to create a return to normal in a Covid-19 free zone.

Unfortunately, at least in the short term, we have to live with a virus that has overturned ordinary life. The path back to normalcy will take a very long time even though it is clear that the extraordinary restrictions currently enforced cannot go on indefinitely, notwithstanding that today they are clearly a necessity.

The partial lockdown in operation in the Maltese islands for the past weeks has been effective in addressing public health concerns. As a result, in Malta, the spread of the virus has been contained and adequately managed as is evidenced by the daily briefings of the Superintendent of Public Health.

Tourism is however on its knees. It has been practically wiped out, temporarily, everywhere across the globe.

Within the European Union tourism accounts for close to 27 million jobs and around 10 per cent of GDP. In Malta, as well as in other neighbouring Southern European countries, tourism makes a larger contribution to the GDP. The web of dependence of the economy on tourism is larger. The pain is consequently larger and the expected time for recovery will be much longer.

Will we return to normal? Certainly not in the short term. It is even doubtful whether such a return to the “known normal” is achievable in the long term. Definitely any recovery will not occur overnight.

Earlier this week EU Tourism Ministers discussed whether initiatives should be taken to encourage internal tourism within the EU itself through some sort of health passports between areas within the EU which are Covid-19 free. As long as keeping a social distance rule remains in force this is not a realistic option, at least for the foreseeable future, certainly not for a number of months.

Unfortunately, travel in general and tourism in particular has the potential of being the perfect vehicle for the spreading of the pandemic just as trade, in the past, served to spread other pandemics across the globe. Keeping this in mind, most probably tourism would be the last economic activity to be reactivated once Covid-19 is sufficiently under control, at least on the European mainland.

It is understandable that the Ministry for Tourism seeks an early scaling down of the restrictions on travel and consequently on the sectors servicing the tourism industry. It has however to be underlined that this is not realistic to achieve in the short term. It is also dubious as to what lies in store in the long term.

The economy of the greater extent of Southern Europe, and in particular that of Mediterranean countries, is reliant on tourism primarily through providing reasonably priced holidays, not just during the summer months, for citizens of Northern and Central Europe within an EU single market. Low-cost flights throughout the European area further adds to this web of dependence.

Even though in this context it is difficult to plan ahead, one thing is certain: the future is as yet undefined and tourism will never be the same. Recovery will be as painful as the waiting time. Tourism is definitely on its knees.

Published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 3 May 2020

Is-siġar taż-żebbuġ taħt theddida

Studju ippubblikat dan l-aħħar jitkellem dwar marda li tattakka s-siġar taż-żebbuġ (Xylella fastidiosa). Ftit li xejn, safejn naf jien, smajna lill-awtoritajiet ta’ l-agrikultura f’Malta jitkellmu dwarha, inkluż dwar x’passi qed jieħdu jew fi ħsiebhom jieħdu.

L-istudju ġie rilaxxjat nhar it-Tnejn 13 t’April 2020 u jindika li l-marda jista’ jkollha impatt serju ħafna fuq in-nofsinnhar kollu tal-Ewropa fejn is-siġar taż-żebbuġ huma prevalenti. Il-marda mhix ġdida. Ilha magħna is-snin, sa mill-2013, u diġa għamlet ħafna ħsara.

Hu stmat li l-impatt fuq Spanja jista’ jlaħħaq mas-€16.9 biljun, fuq l-Italja €5.2 biljun u fuq il-Greċja €2 biljun. L-istudju sar minn xjenzjati mill-Università Olandiża ta’ Wageningen.

Il-ħsara ma issirx f’daqqa iżda fuq numru ta’ snin skond kemm u kif tinfirex il-marda. Huwa għalhekk importanti li jittieħdu passi immedjati jekk irridu nħarsu l-investiment f’dan il-qasam agrikolu li anke f’Malta jitla’ għal ammont sostanzjali.

L-interess fis-siġar taż-żebbuġ u fil-produzzjoni ta’ żejt taż-żebbuġa żdied ħafna tul is-snin. F’Malta, bħall-bqija taż-żewġ naħat tal-kosta tal-Mediterran s’issa hawn klima li tiffaċilta dan l-interess. Mhux biss illum. Hi ħidma li kienet teżisti minn snin ilu, ukoll, kif jixhdu id-diversi fdalijiet arkejoloġiċi li nstabu tul is-snin.

X’inhu jagħmel il-Gvern? B’mod partikolari x’inhu jsir fejn tidħol l-importazzjoni ta’ siġar taż-żebbuġ mill-pajjiżi milquta mill-marda?

Ġejt infurmat li din il-marda (xylella fastidiosa) ma tattakkax biss lis-siġar taż-żebbuġ imma tattakka madwar 123 speċi ta’ siġar oħra inkluż frott irqieq, ċitru u dwieli fost oħrajn.

L-impatt fuqna jekk nimpurtaw din il-marda għaldaqstant ikun wieħed enormi.

Is-segwenti hu estratt mill-istudju:

Abstract: Xylella fastidiosa is the causal agent of plant diseases that cause massive economic damage. In 2013, a strain of the bacterium was, for the first time, detected in the European territory (Italy), causing the Olive Quick Decline Syndrome. We simulate future spread of the disease based on climatic-suitability modeling and radial expansion of the invaded territory. An economic model is developed to compute impact based on discounted foregone profits and losses in investment. The model projects impact for Italy, Greece, and Spain, as these countries account for around 95% of the European olive oil production. Climatic suitability modeling indicates that, depending on the suitability threshold, 95.5 to 98.9%, 99.2 to 99.8%, and 84.6 to 99.1% of the national areas of production fall into suitable territory in Italy, Greece, and Spain, respectively. For Italy, across the considered rates of radial range expansion the potential economic impact over 50 y ranges from 1.9 billion to 5.2 billion Euros for the economic worst-case scenario, in which production ceases after orchards die off. If replanting with resistant varieties is feasible, the impact ranges from 0.6 billion to 1.6 billion Euros. Depending on whether replanting is feasible, between 0.5 billion and 1.3 billion Euros can be saved over the course of 50 y if disease spread is reduced from 5.18 to 1.1 km per year. The analysis stresses the necessity to strengthen the ongoing research on cultivar resistance traits and application of phytosanitary measures, including vector control and inoculum suppression, by removing host plants.

Il-ħatra ta’ Joseph Cuschieri bħala ambaxxatur għall-Greċja

Joseph Cuschieri

It-Times online tal-bieraħ ħabbret li hu imminenti li l-Gvern iħabbar il-ħatra tas-Sur Joseph Cuschieri bħala ambaxxatur ta’ Malta għall-Greċja.

Kull Gvern jagħmel ħatriet bħal dawn. Uħud minn dawn il-ħatriet ikunu ta’ benefiċċju għall-pajjiż. L-oħrajn ikunu ta’ benefiċċju biss għall-partit fil-Gvern.

Wasal iż-żmien li l-ambaxxaturi li jkunu ser jinħatru ikunu mgħarbla fil-pubbliku mill-Kumitat għall-Affarijiet Barranin tal-Parlament Malti. Bl-istess mod li jimxi s-Senat Amerikan qabel ma jiddeċiedi jekk jikkonfermax jew le l-ħatriet ta’ ambaxxaturi mill-President tal-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika.

 

Ngħinu lill-Griegi jiksbu d-dinjità ta’ pajjiżhom lura

Malta-Greece

Il-vot LE tal-Griegi l-bieraħ qabel kollox hu vot ta’pajjiż favur id-dinjità tiegħu. Huwa vot ta’ poplu li qed jara lill-pajjiżu jikkollassa biċċa biċċa. Huwa vot favur il-pensjonijiet li qed jisparixxu. Huwa vot favur l-isptarijiet u l-mediċini, vot favur li fl-aħħar tax-xahar il-gvern Grieg ikun jista’ jħallas il-pagi tiegħu. Huwa vot kontra l-awsterità.

Dan kollu jfisser li hemm bżonn jingħata iktar piz lill-fatt li s-solidarjetà ma kienitx preżenti biżżejjed fit-taħditiet bejn il-Gvern Grieg u t-troika [il-fond Monetarju Internazzjonali, il-Bank Ċentrali Ewropew u l-Kummissjoni Ewropeja]. Il-Greċja waslet fejn hi għax kulħadd għalaq għajnejħ għal snin twal għall-korruzzjoni w it-tberbiq u fl-aħħar wasal iż-żmien tal-kontijiet. Żmien li jasal fuq kulħadd.

Imma sfortunatament il-piz tal-awsterità ma ntrefax minn min berbaq jew minn min ħa sehem fil-korruzzjoni. Dawk kollha, bħal dejjem issa sparixxew.

It-triq il-quddiem hi waħda li twieżen lill-fqir u li tirfed l-istat biex jibqa’ jiffunzjona u jkun jista’ jibqa’ jservi lill-batut u lil min jiddependi mis-solidarjetà soċjali ankè biex sempliċement jeżisti.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu d-deċiżjonijiet m’humiex faċli. L-ovvju hu li d-djun tal-Greċja mhux ser jitħallsu, la fil-futur qarib u probabbilment l-anqas iktar fil-bogħod. L-obbligu tal-Unjoni Ewropeja għaldaqstant (inkluż l-obbligu tal-Gvern Malti) hu li l-Gvern Grieg ikun mgħejjun jibni l-pajjiż mill-ġdid. It-triq m’hiex faċli għax il-prijorità m’għandhomx ikunu l-flus imma n-nies.

Nittamaw li fil-ġranet li ġejjin tinstab soluzzjoni, mibnija fuq is-solidarjetà, mhux fuq l-awsterità.

Ir-retorika ………… l-unika ħaġa ċerta

Joseph Muscat Martin Schulz

 

Der Spiegel International irrapporta illi l-Kunsill Ewropew li ltaqa’ fi Brussels fi tmiem il-ġimgħa ittratta l-immigrazzjoni b’mod retoriku. Għal Der Spiegel ma tirriżulta l-ebda deċiżjoni ta’ sustanza dwar l-immigrazzjoni. Paroli biss.

Fil-fatt il-Kunsill Ewropew ippospona deċiżjoni dwar l-immigrazzjoni għal Diċembru li ġej.  Il-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat ġustament  ikkummenta li għalkemm il-kliem li intqal u inkiteb kien promettenti, s’issa għadu biss kliem.  Il-Partit Laburista min-naħa l-oħra  jidher li hu sodisfatt filwaqt li l-PN ikkummenta li Joseph Muscat ġie lura Malta b’idu f’idu.

Alternattiva Demokratika jidhrilha illi hu tal-mistħija li l-Kunsill Ewropew jibqa’ jipposponi deċiżjoni dwar x’passi għandhom jittieħdu fuq livell ta’ Unjoni Ewropeja dwar l-immigrazzjoni fil-Mediterran. Dan jfisser li l-Kunsill Ewropew fis-siegħa tal-prova ma kienx kapaċi jqiegħed fil-prattika l-valuri Ewropej ta’ rispett lejn il-ħajja u id-dinjita tal-bniedem. L-Unjoni Ewropeja issa ilha s-snin tipposponi li tieħu deċiżjoni dwar solidarjeta’ prattika u effettiva.

Malta għandha pubblikament tappoġġa l-posizzjoni mittieħda mill-Partit tal-Ħodor Ewropej (European Green Party) dwar solidarjetá effettiva (responsibility sharing), riforma tal-Konvenzjoni Dublin II kif ukoll il-ħolqien ta’ metodi legali għall-migrazzjoni fl-Unjoni Ewropeja. Posizzjoni li diġa ħa ukoll Martin Schultz il-President Soċjal Demokratiku tal-Parlament Ewropew.

Minflok dan kollu l-Kunsill Ewropew ser jiddiskuti l-immigrazzjoni f’Diċembru li ġej meta l-Kummissjoni Ewropeja ser tresssaq ir-rapport ta’ ħidma tat-Task Force dwar il-Mediterran li twaqqfet diġa u dan “bil-ħsieb li jittieħdu deċiżjonijiet operazzjonali”.  Dwar x’inkunu dawn id-deċiżjonijiet u jekk fil-fatt jittieħdux għadu kmieni ħafna. Iktar u iktar meta niftakru li numru ta’ pajjiżi membri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja (x’aktarx madwar tlettax) ma jaqblux li għandhom ikollhom xi sehem biex jerfgħu l-piż tal-immigrazzjoni fil-Mediterran. Ma dan ma irridux ninsew li biex tittieħed deċiżjoni  irid ikun hemm qbil unanimu. Jiġifieri minkejja d-dikjarazzjoni ta’ Joseph Muscat li rnexxielu jikseb l-appoġġ tal-Prim Ministri Soċjalisti kollha fil-Kunsill Ewropew għad m’hemm xejn ċar dwar kif ser jiżviluppaw l-affarijiet.

L-unika ħaġa ċerta s’issa hi r-retorika.

Minkejja dan kollu, f’din is-siegħa ta’ prova, Alternattiva Demokratika tappoġġa l-insistenza tal-Gvern Malti dwar il-ħtieġa li l-Unjoni Ewropeja taġixxi immedjatament dwar l-immigrazzjoni, insistenza li jidher li hi appoġġata minn 15-il Gvern fl-Unjoni Ewropeja, fuq quddiem dawk tal-Greċja u l-Italja. L-immigrazzjoni fuq il-fruntiera Mediterranea tal-Unjoni Ewropeja hi materja li tikkonċerna l-Unjoni kollha u hi ta’ serjeta’ u gravita daqs kull materja Ewropeja oħra.

Alternattiva Demokratika filwaqt li tifhem li hu neċessarju li l-Gvern Malti jgħaddi kummenti iebsa fil-konfront tal-istituzzjonijiet Ewropej tittama, iżda,  li dan il-kliem iebes ma jkunx ta’ ostaklu biex id-deċiżjonijiet li jiġu mittieħda ikunu tali li jirrispettaw id-dinjita’ umana tal-immigranti f’kull ħin.

Ippubblikat f’ iNews : It-Tnejn 28 t’Ottubru 2013

Għal darba oħra ……………… Lampedusa

smell the coffee

Żewġ traġedji f’ġimgħa. Fit-tieni waħda kienu protagonisti l-Forzi Armati ta’ Malta li salvaw mal-150 persuna mill-għarqa. Veru li għamlu dmirhom. Imma li jirnexxilek tagħmel dmirek f’ċirkustanzi bħal dawn hu ta’ sodisfazzjon mhux żgħir.

Din id-darba kien pożittiv ukoll l-atteġġjament tal-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat. Hu ta’ sodisfazzjoni li bidel l-attitudni li kien ħa iktar kmieni din is-sena. Nittama li l-ħsara li laħqet saret tibda tissewwa. Dan jista’ jseħħ, iżda jieħu ż-żmien. Dejjem jekk il-bdil ta’ attitudni mhiex biss u sempliċiment bdil ta’ tattika.

Kif kien xieraq il-prijorita’ kienet li jsalvaw in-nies. Imma ġustament ġie emfasizzat li l-Unjoni Ewropeja teħtieġ li tiċċaqlaq.

Sal-lum id-dħul tal-immigranti m’hiex responsabbilta’ tal-Unjoni Ewropeja iżda tal-Istati membri individwali. Dan m’għandux jibqa’ hekk. Għax  l-istati fuq il-fruntiera tan-nofsinnhar tal-Ewropa (Malta, l-Italja, Spanja, l-Greċja u Ċipru) qed jerfgħu piż kbir li lkoll, kif nafu, ma jifilħux għalih.

Ir-responsabbilta’ għall-immigranti għandha tintrefa’ mill-Unjoni Ewropeja kollha, f’isem u għan-nom tal-istati membri kollha. Għax dak li jiġri mill-fruntiera l-ġewwa hu responsabbilta’ ta’ kulħadd, inkluż tagħna l-Maltin. Jiġifieri hu meħtieg li r-responsabbilta’ li tatna l-ġografija jgħinuna nerfgħuha.( Il-fruntiera mhiex importanti biss biex jinġabar dak dovut għad-dwana.)

Biex dan iseħħ hemm bżonn li jinbidlu r-regolamenti tal-Unjoni Ewropea magħrufin bħala Dublin II (magħrufa ukoll bħala l-Konvenzjoni ta’ Dublin). It-tibdil meħtieġ jagħmilha possibli li immigranti jiċċaqalqu mill-pajjiż fejn jaslu għal pajjiż ieħor fejn tkun tista’ tiġi ipproċessata t-talba tagħhom għal status ta’ refuġjat.

Alternattiva Demokratika ilha snin li ikkonvinċiet lill-partiti l-Ħodor Ewropej li din hi t-triq il-quddiem: triq li permezz tagħha r-responsabbilta’ li illum qed terfa’ Malta u l-istati l-oħra fuq il-fruntiera tan-nofsinnhar tal-Ewropa tibda  tintrefa’ minn kulhadd flimkien.

Imma mhux kulħadd jaqbel ma dan. Il-Partiti l-oħra fl-Ewropa s’issa ma qablux ma dan.

Il-Ġermanja, per eżempju hu wieħed minn 24 pajjiż fl-Unjoni Ewropeja li ma jridx jibdel l-affarijiet. Jippreferi  li d-deċiżjonijiet dwar kemm il-pajjiż jieħu refuġjati joħodhom hu. Fil-fatt fil-Ġermanja matul is-sena li qegħdin fiha ser ikunu ġew aċċettati 100,000 refuġjat.  Punt interessanti fl-aħbarijiet fi tmiem il-ġimgħa kien dak li intqal minn Katrin Göring-Eckardt co-leader ġdida tal-Ħodor Ġermaniżi li indikat li biex  id-diskussjonijiet dwar il-formazzjoni ta’ Gvern ġdid Ġermaniż bejn id-Demokristjani u l-Ħodor jipproċedu huwa essenzjali (fost ħafna affarijiet oħra) li jkun hemm tibdil fil-posizzjoni dwar l-immigrazzjoni attwalment f’idejn il-Ministru tal-Intern Hans  Peter Friedrich, allejat lemini ta’ Angela Merkel mis-CSU tal-Bavaria. (ara New York Times  tal-11 t’Ottubru 2013 : Sinking of Migrant Boat off Italy complicates politics in Germany).

Fid-dawl ta’ dan hu ċar li l-uġiegħ ta’ ras ta’ Joseph Muscat qabel ma jikkonvinċi lill-istituzzjonijiet Ewopej hi biex jikkonvinċi lil sħabu fil-partiti Soċjalisti Ewropej li minn fosthom hemm 10 Prim Ministri.  Jekk dawn jagħtuh l-appoġġ ikun iktar faċli li naslu bħala pajjiż. Imma ħlief Enrico Letta, Prim Ministru tal-Italja, s’issa l-ebda kap ta’ Gvern fl-Unjoni Ewropeja għadu ma esprima ruħu.

Ħafna drabi jsir l-iżball li ninsisitu b’qawwa kbira dwar x’għandha tagħmel l-Ewropa mingħajr ma nirrealizzaw li l-Ewropa hi aħna ukoll, kif ukoll dawk ta’ madwarna.

Alternattiva Demokratika diġa’ ħadet posizzjoni ċara dwar dan kollu. Għax aħna ukoll parti mill-Ewropa għamilna l-parti tagħna u wittejna t-triq. Wrejna li hu possibli li fuq livell ta’ Unjoni Ewropeja jkun hemm appoġġ biex ir-responsabbilta’ għall-immigranti li illum qed jintrefa minn Malta waħedha tibda jintrefa minn kulħadd. Il-Ħodor Ewropej bdew. Il-Ħodor Ewropej tawna l-appoġġ billi qablu ma ħtieġa ta’ riforma tal-Konvenzjoni ta’ Dublin bħala pass essenzjali biex ir-responsabbilta’ għall-immigranti nerfgħuha flimkien. Dan hu l-uniku mod li bih nistgħu naslu. B’solidarjeta’ ta’ vera.

kif ippubblikat fuq iNews it-Tnejn 14 t’Ottubru 2013

Sharing our responsibilities

lampedusa-letta-e-barroso-contestati

The Lampedusa tragedy was a tragedy waiting to happen. .

Human persons in need of help have been on our doorstep, Europe’s doorstep. The help they sought was not available.

Malta has a government which belongs to that family of political parties, the socialist family, which describes itself as being the champion of the vulnerable and the downtrodden. In migration policy, in just seven months, the Labour Party led government in Malta has failed miserably in living up to its core values.

At this point in time none are more vulnerable than migrants fleeing persecution: in particular Somalis and Eritreans who account for the vast majority of migrants at this doorstep of Europe. The Labour Party in Government is not interested in their plight. It is more interested in a populist discourse to impress its hangers-on. Labour’s populism has diluted its core values  beyond recognition.

Labour’s push-back policy was not implemented due to the timely intervention of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Those who think that  Joseph Muscat’s pushback policy was an exercise in bluff would do well to remember that  when still Leader of the Opposition Joseph Muscat had made statements on the need to suspend Malta’s international obligations if faced with large numbers of boat-people.

Many crocodile tears are currently being shed by those who in the past weeks advocated a hard-line inhumane attitude. Those who advocated push-backs are apparently shocked by what has happened.

Are they?

When we criticise the European Union for tackling immigration inappropriately we are also criticising ourselves as since May 2004 Malta and the Maltese are an integral part of the European Union. Malta forms part of each and every decision-taking structure within the European Union. Together with all the other member states Malta participates whenever a decision is taken.

The European Union needs a common migration policy which recognises that each and every refugee within its borders is its responsibility. The border states like Malta, Italy, Spain, Greece and Cyprus are shouldering a disproportionate responsibility which must be shared by all  members states.

So far, in the struggle between life and death the European Union (Malta included) has not opted to give adequate assistance to the living. As a result we are collectively responsible for the Lampedusa deaths. It is useless shedding tears for the dead if we did not respect them when they were still alive.

The Lampedusa tragedy was no accident. It is the direct consequence of the fact that on migration there is still a free for all in the European Union. A common policy is required to give flesh to practical solidarity and bury once and for all the culture of indifference.

The Greens in Europe are all in favour of responsibility sharing. That is, the recognition by European Union institutions that once a migrant crosses the EU borders he is its responsibility. Common borders are not just a tool for the payment of customs duties. A humanitarian migration policy is a must in every corner of the European Union. Crossing the border into the European Union should mean moving into an area which respects every human person, with no exceptions being permitted.

A first step would be amending what is known as the Dublin Convention such that the arrival of a migrant within any of the member states would not signify any more that he is restricted to remain in the country of arrival. Such an amendment to the Dublin Convention would facilitate the movement of migrants within the European Union and, consequently, their applying for refugee status, if this is applicable,  within any one of the member states.

This is the official policy of the European Green Party to which policy Alternattiva Demokratika has contributed considerably through constructive engagement with our European partners. The Greens in Europe are the only European Political Party which has fully appreciated the situation which EU border states are facing. Without any stamping of feet or smelling “pushover” coffee the European Green Party is the foremost proposer and supporter of an EU which shoulders its responsibilities through a policy of migration responsibility sharing.

The others just stamp their feet and indulge in inconsequential rhetoric interspaced with crocodile tears.

It is about time that the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party accept that their approach to migration has failed. They should take a leaf from the policy book of the European Greens and seek to convince their partners in the European Union of the need to share responsibility for migration with the border states.

Whether the Lampedusa tragedy will serve as a wake-up call is still to be seen. The comments from Jose Barroso and Cecilia Malmström at Lampedusa on Wednesday are good indications.

Well Muscat can smell that coffee now.

As published in The Times of Malta, Saturday 12 October 2013