Il-messaġġ tal-Kummissarju Viviane Reding

Viviane Reding

Id-dibattitu fil-Parlament Ewropew dwar l-iskema ta’ ċittadinanza li qed jipproponi l-Gvern ġie u mar.

Kien hemm numru ta’ diskorsi. L-iktar importanti minn dawn, fl-opinjoni tiegħi, kien id-diskors tal-Kummissarju Viviane Reding, Viċi President tal-Kummissjoni Ewopeja u Kummissarju għall-Ġustizzja.

Deċiżjoni dwar iċ-ċittadinanza, qalet Reding, hi prerogattiva tal-istati membri. Imma, żiedet tgħid Reding, din id-deċiżjoni hi mhiex waħda newtrali. Għandha impatt fuq kull wieħed mill-pajjiżi l-oħra tal-Unjoni Ewropeja u dan għax iċ-ċittadinanza ta’ pajjiż membru tal-UE tagħti numru ta’ drittijiet li jistgħu jkunu eżerċitati fl-Unjoni Ewropeja kollha.

Għal din ir-raġuni l-Kummissarju Reding ġibdet l-attenzjoni ta’ kull min kien qiegħed jisma’ li t-trattat tal-Unjoni Ewropeja jitkellem ċar fl-artiklu 4.3 dwar it-tħaddim tal-prinċipju ta’ kooperazzjoni sinċiera bejn l-istati membri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja.

Dan, qalet Reding hu prinċipju bażiku. Fi ftit kliem din hi l-qalba tal-kwistjoni kollha.

Meta wieħed iwarrab il-paroli kollu li ntqal għall-gallarija, jibqa’ biss dan il-punt. Punt li kulħadd injora.

Fit-twettiq tal-politika tiegħu taċ-ċittadinanza għaliex ma kienx hemm konsultazzjoni bejn il-Gvern Malti u l-Unjoni Ewropeja? Huwa konxju l-Gvern Malti illi filwaqt li għandu kull dritt li jiddeċiedi xorta għandu l-obbligu li japplika l-“prinċipju ta’ kooperazjoni sinċiera”?

Dan hu wieħed mis-sisien tal-valuri Ewropej. Fl-Unjoni Ewropeja m’hemmx biss drittijiet. Hemm ukoll id-dmirijiet. Mhux għal Malta biss, sintendi!

ippubblikat fuq iNews il-Ġimgħa 17 ta’ Jannar 2014

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The Citizenship debate: a case of being trapped ?

trap

The issue of citizenship has been rightly described as being one of the areas which are reserved for the member states of the European Union. It logically follows that Malta (and every other European state) has the right to act. This line of thought is also reinforced by the principle of subsidiarity.

No one contests this except that it is not the end of the story.

Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner has placed the matter in its proper perspective by pointing out that EU member states are also bound by the principle of sincere cooperation enshrined in article 4.3 of the Treaty of the European Union. This principle is also known as the loyalty principle.

In the Citizenship debate Malta is apparently entrapped between the subsidiarity principle and the loyalty principle. The former gives it the right to act. The latter points towards the duty to cooperate.

This is the warning announced loud and clear yesterday by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding in the European Parliament.

Its about time that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat realizes the extent of the mess created. Time to start thinking Joe!

Parlament tad-dilettanti?

parlament

Il-Parlament hemm bżonn li jkun full-time.  Ma jistax ikun li nibqgħu b’Parlament tad-dilettanti. B’Membri Parlamentari li l-prijorita’ tagħhom hi l-professjoni jew ix-xogħol tagħhom.

Min għalih il-professjoni hi iktar importanti mill-Parlament jagħmel tajjeb li jiddedika l-ħin tiegħu jew tagħha għall-professjoni u jħalli s-siġġu tal-Parlament għal min hu lest li jagħti prijorita’ lill-ħidma Parlamentari.

Bħalissa għandna Parlament li fost il-Membri tiegħu għandu min il-prijorita’ tiegħu hi li  jara lill-klijenti fil-klinka jekk tabib, jew fl-uffiċċju jekk avukat jew Perit jew xi xogħol ieħor. Imbagħad, x’ħin ilesti, u  jekk ikunu baqa’ ħin imur il-Parlament.

Il-konsegwenza ta’ dan tidher fil-ħidma tal-Parlament, għax il-Parlament xogħolu m’hux jagħmlu, għax ħin biżżejjed x’jiddedika m’għandux.

Il-Parlament Malti hu l-uniku wieħed fl-Unjoni Ewropeja li ma kienx kapaċi jirreaġixxi fid-dettall meħtieġ  għal mijiet ta’ proposti ta’ liġi tal-Unjoni Ewropeja. Dan id-dritt li inkiseb bit-trattat ta’ Liżbona u li permezz tiegħu l-Parlamentari tal-Istati Membri jistgħu jinfluwenzaw u f’xi każi jwaqqfu leġislazzjoni Ewropeja għalina l-Maltin qiesu ma jeżistix għax il-Parlament Malti huwa wieħed tal-part-timers. Parlament tad-dilettanti.

Il-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat waqqaf Bord  biex jagħtih proposti dwar kif għandhom ikunu imfassla s-salarji ta’ dawk li jokkupaw uffiċċju politiku. Din il-Kummissjoni li hi magħmula mill-Ombudsman, l-Awditur Ġenerali u l-Uffiċjal Elettorali Ewlieni, l-bieraħ t-Tlieta 15 t’Ottubru iltaqgħet ma’ Alternattiva Demokratika.

Jiena u Arnold Cassola tkellimna magħhom fit-tul u fissirnielhom il-proposti fil-programm elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika. L-ewwel fosthom li l-Parlament jeħtieġ li ikun wieħed ta’ full-timers u li l-Membri Parlamentari m’għandhom jagħmlu l-ebda xogħol ieħor għajr dak tal-Parlament.

Dan ifisser li m’għandhomx jinħatru fuq Bordijiet tal-Gvern, kif sar dan l-aħħar. Biex inkun preċiz mhux issa biss sar dan. Sar ukoll fi żmien Gvernijiet oħra. Imma issa sar fuq skala ikbar milli sar fi żminijiet oħra.

Ifisser ukoll li l-Membri Parlamentari jkollhom iktar ħin biex jagħmlu dak li suppost jagħmlu, jiġifieri li jiflu l-ħidma tal-Gvern.

F’Parlament tad-dilettanti l-Gvern jagħmel li jrid. F’Parlament fejn il-membri jkollhom il-ħin biex xogħolhom jagħmluh il-Gvern jimxi ħafna aħjar.

Dan hu l-Parlament li jixirqilna bħala pajjiż, mhux Parlament tad-dilettanti.

Ara ukoll l-istqarrija ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika li tinkludi l-proposti kollha sottomessi. Agħfas hawn.

F’ħoġor Herman van Rompuy

MUSCAT ROMPUY

Wara l-istqarrija tal-Ministru Manwel Mallia fil-Parlament huwa ġustifikat li nistaqsu: issa fejn sejrin?

Il-posizzjonijiet tal-Gvern u l-Opposizzjoni jikkuntrastaw mhux daqstant fl-iskop daqskemm fil-metodu.

Ilkoll kemm aħna naqblu li l-piż tal-immigrazzjoni għall-pajjiżna hu kbir. Naqblu lkoll li għandna nipproteġu l-ħajja bla limitu jew kundizzjonijiet iżda li dan l-impenn tagħna m’għandux ikun abbużat.

Ilkoll naqblu li l-għajnuna li tatna s’issa l-Unjoni Ewropeja biex nistgħu naqdu aħjar l-obbligi tagħna li nħarsu l-ħajja ta’ dawk li jeħtieġu din l-għajnuna ma jeżenta lil ħadd mill-obbligi kbar li hemm ta’ kull pajjiż li jifforma parti mill-Unjoni Ewropeja lejn il-pajjiżi fuq il-fruntiera.

Huwa ukoll fatt, li ħadd ma semma il-lejla fil-Parlament li billi l-materja tal-immigrazzjoni mhiex waħda mir-responsabbiltajiet komuni tal-Unjoni azzjoni dwarha teħtieġ l-unanimita’, jiġifieri li jaqblu l-pajjiżi kollha. U jekk din l-unanimita ma tkunx teżisti ftit li xejn jistgħu jittieħdu deċiżjonijiet .

Saru diversi tentattivi tul is-snin biex jintlaħaq xi forma ta’ ftehim. L-uniku pass li kien hemm qbil dwaru kien illi jgħin min irid, fuq bażi volontarja. Fuq it-TVM2 David Casa nhar il-Ħadd qal li kienu 4 biss il-pajjiżi li offrew l-għajnuna, liema għajnuna issarfet filli dawn ħadu madwar 700 immigrant f’pajjiżhom. Numru ferm żgħir li nqabeż anke mill-għajnuna li tatna l-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika.

Huwa f’dan il-kuntest li wieħed irid jiċcara li l-konflitt ta’ Malta mhux mal-Unjoni Ewropeja iżda mal-Kapijiet tal-Gvern li miġbura flimkien fil-Kunsill Ewropew jieħdu id-deċiżjonijiet li l-Kummissjoni tkun teħtieġ li timplimenta.  Għaxra mit-28 Gvern ta’ pajjiżi fil-UE huma immexxija minn Prim Ministri Soċjalisti, 13 minn Prim Ministri ġejjin mill-Partit Popolari. Id-diversita’ ta’ opinjonijiet hi kbira għax ilkoll kemm huma jridu jirrispondu għal opinjoni pubblika kritika f’pajjiżhom.

Kollox ser idur fuq il-kapaċita ta’ Herman van Rompuy President tal-Kunsill li iktar kmieni din is-sena kien hawn Malta u indirizza l-Parlament Malti. Van Rompuy għandu l-fama ta’ consensus builder u l-probabbilta’ li l-problema tispiċċa f’ħoġru.

F’Ġunju li għadda lill-Parlament kien qallu “I am fully aware of Malta’s concerns.”  Jekk minn dan l-għarfien jirnexxilux iwassal għal soluzzjoni iżda għad irridu naraw.

 

Enemalta Chairman and alternative energy

Enemalta Chairman yesterday  was reported as saying that generating renewable energy is almost impossible in Malta.

When Enemalta’s Chairman Engineer Louis Giordimaina makes such a statement one is bound to take notice.

Is Mr Giordimaina aware of the implications of what he is saying? Does this mean that Malta is not in a position to honour its EU committments to have 10% of the energy used by the year 2020 generated from renewable sources?

Did Mr Giordemaina shoot from the hip, or was he preparing the way for some policy reversal by Government?

I only hope that this statement is one other product which by now one associates with Enemalta Corporation, the result of incompetence.

Living on Ecological Credit

published

Saturday July23, 2011

An informal meeting of EU ministers of the environment held in Poland earlier this month reminded us that we are living on ecological credit. Our balance sheet with nature is in the red. It is healthy that EU politicians have recognised this fact.

Environmentalists have been campaigning for ages that the world is living beyond its means. International NGO WWF, for example, publishes information relative to ecological footprint analysis. From the information available, Malta’s ecological footprint is 3.9 hectares per person. This can be compared to an EU average of 4.9 hectares per person (ranging from a minimum of 3.6 for Poland and Slovakia to a maximum of 7.0 for Sweden and Finland) and a world average of 2.2 hectares per person.

This adds up to a total impact for Malta of about 50 times the area of the Maltese islands. A clear indication of the extent of Malta’s reliance on ecological credit.

Malta’s environmental impacts are accentuated due to the islands’ high population density.

Malta’s small size is in some respects an advantage but this advantage has been generally ignored throughout the years. The reform of public transport, currently in hand, could someday put the issue of size to good use by developing an efficient system of communication. This reform, however, has to be properly managed. Preliminary indications point to a completely different direction. I do not exclude the possibility of the achievement of positive results even if, so far, I am disappointed.

The results the Greens hope to be achieved from the public transport reform would be the increased use of public transport and, consequently, a reduction in the number of cars on the road. This will come about if bus routes are more commuter-friendly. A reduction of cars on the road will lead to less emissions and a reduction of transport-generated noise. It would also cut a household’s expenditure through the reduction of fuel costs.

Water management in Malta also contributes considerably to the island’s ecological deficit.

The commissioning of the Ta’ Barkat sewage purification plant means that Malta is now in line with the provisions of the EU Urban Wastewater Directive. But the actual design of the sewage purification infrastructure means that by discharging the purified water into the sea an opportunity of reducing the pressure on ground water and the production of reverse osmosis-produced water has been lost. The purified water could easily be used as second-class water or it could be polished for other uses. When the Mellieħa sewage purification plant was inaugurated it was announced that studies into the possible uses of the purified water were to be carried out. These studies should have been undertaken before the sewage purification infrastructure was designed as they could have led to a differently designed infrastructure. The system as designed means that any eventual use of the purified water will require its transport from the purification plants to the point of use. A properly designed system could have reduced these expenses substantially by producing the purified water along the route of the public sewers and close to the point of use.

Public (and EU) funds have been wrongly used. Water planners have not carried out their duty towards the community they serve through lack of foresight and by not having an inkling of sustainability issues.

It also means that those who advised the head of state to inform the current Parliament’s inaugural session in May 2008 that “the government’s plans and actions are to be underpinned by the notion of sustainable development” were not aware what that statement signifies. Repeatedly, the government, led by Lawrence Gonzi, falls short of addressing adequately environmental impacts, as a result pushing these islands further down the road of dependence on ecological credit.

The government could have opted for a fresh start in May 2008 by implementing the National Sustainable Development Strategy, approved by Cabinet some months prior to the 2008 election. Instead, I am reliably informed that the National Commission for Sustainable Development has not met a single time during the past 42 months. As a consequence, the strategy has been practically shelved and discarded.

I cannot and will not say that there have not been any environmental initiatives. While various initiatives have been undertaken, some only address impacts partially. Others have been embarked upon half-heartedly. It is also clear to all that government environmental action does not form part of a holistic vision. It rather resembles the linking up of loose pieces of unrelated jigsaw puzzle bits.

This contrasts sharply with the public’s awareness and expectations. The public is one step ahead awaiting its representatives to act in a responsible manner in accordance with their much-publicised statements.

Excessive ecological credit will inevitably lead to ecological bankruptcy. No EU or IMF will bail us out. It’s better to take our environmental responsibilities seriously before it is too late.

Dealing with Environmental Crime

published July 9, 2011

 In late 2008, the European Union, through a joint decision of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, adopted Directive 99/2008 “on the protection of the environment through criminal law”.

Member states had to implement this directive by not later than December 26, 2010. Malta, together with 11 other EU member states, did not comply. As a result, on June 16, the EU Commission issued a warning to all 12 states to comply within two months.

The EU directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law does not create new environment legislation. It aims to consolidate existing laws through harmonising penalties that should be inflicted as well as by ensuring that these penalties are really a deterrent.

Annex A to the directive lists EU legislation (some 70 directives and regulations) subject to this directive’s provisions. This is wide ranging and includes legislation regulating waste, GMOs, air quality, quality of water for human consumption, use of sewage sludge in agriculture, use and transportation of hazardous materials, protection of water from nitrates originating from agriculture, trade in endangered species and many others.

Within EU structures, the Maltese government opposed provisions of the proposed directive. So it is no surprise that this resistance is also reflected in the implementation process. This gives a new significance to the Maltese government’s declarations on the importance the environment has in its political agenda.

During the discussion stage in the EU structures, representatives of the Malta government expressed a view contrary to the harmonisation of sanctions primarily on the basis of the economic disparity across the EU member states.

The impact assessment produced by the EU on the proposed directive had emphasised that, in the EU, there are three areas that organised crime focuses on to the detriment of the environment. These are illicit trade in ozone depleting substances, illicit hazardous waste treatment and disposal and illicit trade in endangered wildlife species. A study entitled Organised Environmental Crime In EU Member States (2003) quoted by the EU impact assessment also states that 73 per cent of researched environmental crime cases involve corporations or corporate-like structures.

Organised environmental crime, which has a turnover of billions of euros in the EU, can have a devastating effect on the economy. There are various examples which we can draw upon. The case of the contaminated mozzarella in the Naples environs in March 2008 is one such example. Organised crime pocketed substantial landfill charges for the handling of toxic and hazardous waste, which was subsequently dumped in areas that were reserved for the grazing of buffalo. The resulting buffalo mozzarella was contaminated with dioxin. The impacts on the mozzarella industry were substantial.

Proof of the operations of the eco-Mafia has also surfaced some time ago when Francesco Fonti, a Mafia turncoat, took the witness stand against the Calabria Mafia. We do recall information given as to the sinking in the Mediterranean of about 42 ships laden with toxic, hazardous and nuclear waste. One of the said ships has been located and identified off the coast of Reggio Calabria.

This network of organised environmental crime is so vast that, at a time, it also dumped toxic, hazardous and nuclear waste in Somalia. The warlords in the Somalia civil war were financed by the eco-Mafia. They supplied them with arms in return for their consent to the dumping of the toxic, hazardous and nuclear waste. Italian journalists (RaiTre) who had tracked down the shipments were shot and murdered in Mogadishu.

The dumping of toxic, hazardous and nuclear waste in the Mediterranean Sea can have very serious impacts on Malta. It contaminates what’s left of fish stocks but also, depending on the location used for dumping, it can impact Malta’s potable water, 60 per cent of which originates from seawater processed by reverse osmosis plants.

Given these serious impacts I would have expected that the Maltese government would be at the forefront in implementing the directive on environmental crime in order to ensure that issues of cross-border organised environmental crime are adequately tackled. It is indeed very unfortunate that the tools which the EU provides so that Malta can protect its real interests are continuously ignored. One cannot help but ask why.

Law firm Hugo Lepage & Partners, in a comparative study commissioned by the EU Commission and entitled Study On Environmental Crime In The 27 Member States (2007), repeatedly identifies penalties for environmental crime in Malta as being at the lower end of the scale in the EU. The message that gets through is that environmental crime is treated lightly in Malta. Malta is not alone in this respect: it enjoys the company of a small number of other countries.

Environmental crime should be punished through penalties that are effective and proportionate to the environmental damage carried out or envisaged. It is in Malta’s interest that this is done expeditiously.