The recycled summit

leaders-of-the-european

 

The Valletta Migration Summit is over. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has described it as a ‘historic summit’. It seems to me that it would be more accurately described as the ‘recycled summit’.

In one of the last speeches at the Summit, on Thursday morning, Senegalese President Macky Sall encapsulated in a few words the sentiments of the African side when he stated that African nations would have no need of aid if multinationals corporations active on the African continent paid their fair share of taxes and a fair price for the natural (African) resources. Of course President Sall left out an important last sentence: he avoided any reference to corrupt politicians generally in sync with these multinational corporations.

Earlier in the week had seen the 20th anniversary of the judicial killing of environmental activist Ken Saro Wiwa and his colleagues, who were executed on the orders of a secret military tribunal on the basis of trumped-up charges in Nigeria on 10 November 1995. Ken Saro Wiwa and his colleagues had  stood up in defence of the Ogoni people against Anglo-Dutch multinational Shell, who ignored one and all in its intensive corporate greed.

The conclusions of the Valletta Summit are nothing but a re-cycling of measures that have been discussed for some time: EU leaders have continued to focus on returning migrants and outsourcing problems to frontline states. This is an approach that the EU had previously attempted with Libyan dictator Gaddafi who, way back in 2010, had demanded €5 billion as his price-tag to stem the flow of immigrants across the Mediterranean. In contrast, the initial carrot dangled before African heads of state was a mere €1.8 billion. Another €3 billion was simultaneously being offered to Turkey by Frans Timmermans Vice President of the EU Commission.

Bargaining with non-EU countries in the hope of trading EU funds in return for re-admission mechanisms is not the right approach. The original EU proposal of linking funds to a take-back of immigrants who did not qualify for asylum had to be withdrawn as the African side of the Summit refused the bait.

The causes of immigration into the EU are various. They range from repression and civil war to the accumulating impacts of climate change – primarily drought and the resulting collapse of domestic agriculture. Matters are made worse as a result of tribal rivalry, as well as the absence of the strong institutions of a democratic state. Consequently, the resulting vacuum is filled by corrupt politicians who, after taking their fill from accommodating multinational corporations seek to top up their spoils through additional contributions from Brussels.

The situation is tricky for the EU as there is no one else to talk to. It is for this reason that the Action Plan tied the proposed €1.8 billion assistance to specific projects subdivided into sixteen priority areas built around five priority domains.

Will this Action Plan solve anything? It is too early to tell, as it is a long-term issue which will be implemented within a number of timeframes specified in the plan itself. The main point of contention remains the immediate short term, during which the pressures on the EU borders will keep increasing to the point that, as Donald Tusk indicated, the whole Schengen process is under threat.

In this context it is pertinent to underline that Malta has recently been spared the troubles as the flow of immigrants ending in Malta has decreased to a trickle as a result of Italy taking up all immigrants that it has intercepted or rescued in Malta’s search and rescue area. The reasons why Italy is behaving in this manner are not yet officially known: the rumour mill has it that oil exploration rights are part of the equation. Originally, Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela had indicated that there was some informal agreement with Italy only for him to come back and state that he had been understood.

As stated by Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian Prime Minister and Liberal leader in the European Parliament : “The EU leaders have let us down.”

While the Valletta Summit has agreed to a reasonably detailed Action Plan which can form the basis of action in the long term, it has failed at containing the migration crisis in the short term.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 15 November 2015

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L-approvazzjoni ta’ Karmenu Vella

Karmenu Vella.pensive

Uħud qed jogħruk jdejhom li Karmenu Vella kien approvat miż-żewġ kumitati tal-Parlament Ewropew li għarbluh.

Kien mistenni li jsir hekk minkejja li uħud kellhom u għad għandhom dubji dwar dan. Huma esprimew dawn id-dubji fil-laqgħat li saru, kemm fil-pubbliku kif ukoll fil-privat.

Il-kritika ndirizzata lejn Karmenu Vella kienet ta’ żewġ tipi.

L-ewwel tip ta’ kritika kienet dik dwar ir-responsabbiltajiet tiegħu. Fir-realta’ din kienet kritika iktar indirizzata lejn Jean Claude Juncker u l-mod kif huwa qassam ir-responsabbiltajiet bejn il-Kummissarji differenti proposti. Id-diffikulta tal-Membri Parlamentari Ewropej kienet li minħabba li diversi materji ta’ importanza ambjentali ġew assenjati bħala responsabbilta ta’ Kummissarji oħra huma riedu jkunu jafu l-fehma ta’ Karmenu Vella dwarhom. Dan minħabba li bħala membru tal-Kummissjoni Ewropeja Karmenu Vella bla dubju ser ikun mitlub jieħu sehem fit-teħid ta’ deċiżjonijiet dwarhom. Allura kien meħtieġ li jkun stabilit x’kienet il-ħegga u l-viżjoni ambjentali ta’ Karmenu Vella. Izda dwar dan ħarġu ferm disappuntati.

It-tieni tip ta’ kritika kienet dwar il-preparazzjoni. Karmenu Vella kellu ħmistax-il jum (biss) biex jipprepara ruħ. Kellu preparazzjoni raġjonevoli dwar is-Sajd u l-Politika Marittima imma l- preparazzjoni dwar l-ambjent kienet waħda ferm fqira.

Imma xorta ġie approvat.

Għaliex sar dan?

L-unika grupp li appoġġah b’mod assolut kien dak Soċjalista. Il-Popolari kellhom riżervi dwar it-tweġibiet li ta’ imma kienu lesti li jagħtuh ċans. Il-Liberali riedu assugurazzjoni dwar l-impenn tal-Kummissjoni kollha favur l-iżvilupp sostenibbli. Il-Greens dehrilhom li ma kienx addattat u fuq kollox li ma kienx ser joħroġ għonqu għall-Ambjent u Sajd jekk ikun ikkonfrontat minn interessi proposti.

Huwa ċar li ġaladarba qablu bejniethom is-Soċjalisti u l-Popolari, Karmenu Vella kellu l-appoġġ tal-maġġoranza fil-kumitati tal-Parlament Ewropew li deher quddiemhom. Wara li s-Soċjalisti iddeċidew li jagħtu l-appoġġ lill-kandidatura ta’ Jean Claude Juncker bħala President tal-Kummissjoni kien ċar li ħlief f’kaz li jinqala’ xi ħaġa gravi m’hu ser ikun hemm l-ebda Kummissarju Socjalista jew Popolari li ma jkunx approvat. Jekk ma jseħħx dan, kull naħa għandha x’titlef. (Nafu li hemm ta’ l-inqas sitt Kummissarji li qegħdin taħt attakk.)

Fil-ġranet li ġejjin irridu naraw kif ser jiżviluppaw il-laqgħat tal-Parlamentari mal-Kummissarji proposti kif ukoll kemm Jean Claude Juncker ser jagħti kaz tal-kritika li saret, lilu u lill-Kummissarji proposti.

Bl-istampa sħiħa d-diskussjoni tkun ferm iktar interessanti.

 

Żieda : 8.20am

Sadanittant il-BBC għadu kemm ħabbar li Jonathan Hill, il-Kummissarju prospettiv nominat mir-Renju Unit għadu ma ġiex approvat mill-Kumitat Parlamentari. Għadhom m’humiex sodisfatti u fil-fatt sejħulu biex jidher mill-ġdid għal iktar mistoqsijijiet il-ġimgħa d-dieħla.

 

Anke l-Kummissarju Spanjol għandu l-problemi biex ikun ikkonfermat. Ara hawn.