The budget: beyond the €s

Liza Minelli’s song “Money makes the world go round” is the underlying theme of the Budget speech delivered by Finance Minister in Parliament last Monday. The message driven home was that money and the accompanying affluence clearly indicate that we have never had it so good and that handouts to all are not a problem, both to those who need them, and, more importantly to those who don’t.

Today, taxation is a dirty word in our political lexicon: hence, it was suggested that the message that no increases in existent taxes or new taxes have been proposed is a positive one by the Honourable Minister. Handouts are for all, almost. First for those in need, secondly for most of the rest. The dictum “from each according to his means, to each according to his needs” no longer has any significance when trying to understand the political philosophy underlying the budget of this “labour” government.

Taxation collected in Malta apparently only has some significance when taxing foreign companies operating outside Maltese territory but having some small office, or just a letterbox, on this rock. This is done so that they can avail themselves of reduced taxation rates, substantially lower that those payable in the countries where they operate.

Similarly, companies operating in the financial services sector benefit from a tax package which offers them substantial savings on their tax bills in order to entice them to set up shop.

The government thinks it is smart, but all it is doing is encouraging tax avoidance. Malta’s message is clear: those who want to avoid tax in their country are welcome as long as they are prepared to pay a small part of the taxes avoided to the Maltese exchequer.

In this respect, the case study entitled “Toxic Tax Deals. When BASF’s Tax Structure is more about style than substance” published by the Green Group in the European Parliament around two years ago is indicative. In that study, it was concluded that BASF, the German chemical giant with its headquarters in Ludwigshafen, used mismatches in national tax systems in order to avoid paying its taxes. It is estimated that, over a five-year period spanning 2010 to 2014, BASF avoided the payment of close to one billion euros in taxes, paying instead a small amount of the taxes avoided, in gratitude for this wonderful opportunity made possible by the Maltese governments, blue and red.

In this context the Finance Minister’s declaration against tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering is deemed mere rhetoric. It has to be viewed in the context of the Panama Papers saga, as well as the established fact that a Cabinet Minister and the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister set up companies in Panama, a tax haven, and no punitive action was taken against them. With this background, the Minister’s sanctimonious declaration is in no way credible.

The Budget proposals strengthen the social safety net as it assists the vulnerable financially. However, the quality of life is not measured solely by financial metrics. The Budget has various green gaps that affect our quality of life.

The welfare of cars assumes an importance over human quality of life, as government considers it is important to widen and improve roads in order to facilitate the passage of cars, thereby aiming at reducing congestion. An inverted sense of logic: reduction of the number of cars on our roads should have been the target as that is the real and actual problem. Widening roads and improving road infrastructure with flyovers and underpasses only serves to grow the number of cars on our roads, thereby increasing the problem. Providing and facilitating alternative transport is the only solution. Paying lip service to alternative means of transport but simultaneously financing an exponential
increase of the problem signifies that we still have to learn the ABC of transport policy.

The government’s own transport master-plan places considerable emphasis on the need to reduce cars from our roads but it seems that the government is not interested.

Therefore, we have a government which is more interested in the welfare of cars than in our quality of life.

This is just one example. There are countless of others.

The Budget loses an opportunity to make a lasting difference in a number of areas important for our quality of life that goes beyond finances.

published (online) at Malta Independent

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Fl-Unjoni Ewropeja : l-immigrazzjoni problema tagħna lkoll?

Hollande 2

Mistiedna fi Franza tal-President Francois Hollande diversi mexxejja Soċjalisti ta’ Gvernijiet fl-Unjoni Ewropeja qed jaqblu li l-immigrazzjoni għandha tingħata iktar importanza.

Qalulna ukoll li l-operazzjoni Mare Nostrum immexxija mill-Gvern Taljan għandha tgħaddi f’idejn il-Frontex. Il-Gvern Malti jaqbel ma dan u ser jagħti l-appoġġ kollu tiegħu. Li kieku jseħħ hekk ikun tajjeb. Issa jekk dan isirx jew le ma nafx. Imma anke’ jekk isir, il-proċess ta’ salvataġġ huwa biss parti żgħira minn dak li għandu jsir. Wara li l-immigranti jkunu salvati x’ser jiġri? Hemm qegħda l-problema l-kbira. Dwaha ma hemmx qbil. Min irid il-push-backs u min ma jrid jagħmel xejn.

Issa ħa nkun ċar: jidher li hemm qbil minn Jean Claude Junker li l-Kummissjoni Ewropeja immexxija minnu tagħti prijorita’ lill-immigrazzjoni. M’għandix dubju li ser jipprova  jagħmel hekk. Fid-diskussjoni issemmiet il-ħtieġa ta’ politika olistika dwar l-immigrazzjoni. Junker wiegħed ukoll li ser jeżamina l-proposta tal-Ħodor għall-bdil fir-regoli ta’ Dublin.

Imma biex jittieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet meħtieġa huma l-Gvernijiet li jridu jiċċaqalqu u mhux il-Kummissjoni Ewropeja biss. Il-Kummissjoni tul is-snin għamlet bosta proposti. Iżda l-passi l-quddiem kienu ftit u bil-mod.

Il-laqgħa ta’ Pariġu hi pass tajjeb. Iżda xi tfisser fil-fatt għad irridu naraw meta niġu għad-deċiżjonijiet. Pariġi kienu presenti rappreżentanti minn 10 pajjiżi, meta fl-Unjoni Ewropeja hemm 28 pajjiż! Kif jaħsbuha it-18-il pajjiż l-ieħor?

Fil-passat kemm il-Gvernijiet immexxija mis-Soċjalisti kif ukoll dawk immexxija mid-Demokristjani jew mill-Liberali dejjem qagħdu lura milli jaċċettaw li l-immigrazzjoni hi problema tal-pajjiżi kollha fl-Unjoni Ewropeja, u mhux biss ta’ dawk fuq il-fruntiera. Jekk is-Soċjalisti hux ser jibdlu it-triq għad irridu naraw.

Meta kienu Malta f’Mejju li għadda kemm Martin Schultz kif ukoll Jean Claude Junker tkellmu b’mod li jpoġġihom viċin ħafna tal-posizzjoni tal-Ħodor fil-Parlament Ewropew.

Jekk dak kienx tejatrin, għad irridu naraw.

Snippets from the EGP Manifesto : (3) A digital Bill of Rights

Digital Rights and Responsibilities

 

The Greens in the European Parliament are at the forefront of the fight for digital rights. We helped stop the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) and we are fighting for strong protection of personal data, for the right to privacy and for strict net neutrality. Now it is time to defend and protect both European citizens and the internet from pervasive corporate and governmental surveillance and to safeguard fundamental rights in the digital age. Personal data belongs to individual citizens, not to companies or governments. Privacy must be respected. The data retention law, which obliges telecom providers to store data about whom citizens communicate with, is a serious mistake and must be abolished.*   Governments have to abide by their own laws. Whilst national security is important, personal freedoms and liberties must not be overridden. Governments must ensure that national security agencies work for all citizens to secure freedom and liberty for everybody. (EGP 2014 Manifesto section entitled  : A Digital Bill of Rights).

 

* The European Court of Justice has early in April 2014 declared as invalid the Data Retention Directive.

Snippets from the EGP Manifesto: (1) European Renewable Energy Community

erene_klein

The European Green Party 2014 Manifesto proposes the setting up of a European Renewable Energy Community: Trade policy should support a sustainable industrial renaissancein Europe and show respect and solidarity for our global partners. One project of particular relevance in this context will be creating a European Renewable Energy Community to help break our addiction to fossil fuels. (EGP 2014 Manifesto section entitled  : Renaissance of Industry for a Sustainable  Europe)

The Council of the European Greens meeting in Malmö Sweden in October 2009 approved a resolution on the European Renewable Energy Community, in brief ERENE. Renewable sources are the only viable sources of sustainable energy, says the title of the resolution.

The existing community for cooperation on energy, the Euratom, is unsustainable and obsolete. The current framework for energy policies in Europe is an obstacle for increased cooperation in this field.

Climate change mitigation implies the reduction of greenhouse gases in Europe in the order of 90% by 2050.

Whilst in 2009 only 11% of the energy generated in Europe was renewable energy it is recognised that the economic potential for renewable energy in Europe greatly exceeds the expected use of electricity in 2050.

There are great differences in national potential for renewable energy. As a consequence, cooperation on the development and deployment of renewable energy and energy systems in Europe is crucial to an enhanced production and use of renewable energy.

Vast investments are needed to realize the potential.

 

A feasibility study on the subject published by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung is available here.

Never been so close

immigration05

 

The interventions in the local debate on immigration by Martin Schulz and Jean Claude Junker have moved both the PN and the PL closer to the AD position as well as closer to each other.

Both the PN and the PL have in the past supported pushbacks. They may blush about it when they are reminded. Fortunately they have now moved closer to upholding European values in immigration policy too.

The influx of immigrants in their thousands has transformed the Mediterranean Sea into a cemetery: a human tragedy developing around us. So many human lives are being lost. Each life lost is testimony to a failure which can only be addressed if we urgently put our heads together and come up with a long term solution.

Immigration through EU borders is not and should not be dealt with as an issue to be dealt with by the border states alone. Due to their geographic position the border states act on behalf of the whole Union. Immigration is a responsibility of all the member states of the European Union. The matter has been on the EU agenda for some years, even though some have been reluctant to handle it. Martin Schultz and Jean Claude Junker together with Green candidates José Bové and Ska Keller have focused on it a number of times in their speeches. Not only in Malta. In fact it cropped up in the Firenze Presidential debate last week too.

Being on the EU agenda means that all the political forces in Malta have succeeded in sensitising their sister parties in Europe on the matter. This has not only meant that the matter is now on the agenda but more so that the PN and the PL have identified more acceptable positions.

Would it be too much to desire the formulation of a national immigration policy which is truly national, that is, one owned by one and all. Whilst there are still a number of differences, it is about time that we recognise that the three main political parties have never been so close on immigration.

Ħarsien tal-privatezza f’era diġitali

digitalprivacy1

 

Ix-xahar li għadda l-Qorti Ewropeja tal-Ġustizzja (ECJ) ħassret Direttiva tal-Unjoni Ewopeja (Data Retention Directive) li kienet tippermetti l-ħażna u l-użu ta’ data elettronika personali mill-awtoritajiet fl-istati membri. Dan l-ECJ għamlitu wara li kienet mitluba mill-għola Qrati fl-Irlanda u l-Awstrija biex teżamina din id-Direttiva minħabba numru ta’ kawżi dwar dan li kienu pendenti f’dawk il-pajjiżi.

Id-dinja diġitali hi l-fruntiera l-ġdida tad-drittijiet tagħna. Id-Direttiva imħassra (Data Retention Directive) kienet tagħti aċċess faċli għad-data diġitali personali kemm lill-Gvernijiet kif ukoll lill-Korporazzjonijiet. Il-Qorti Ewropeja tal-Ġustizzja fil-fatt qalet li, kif imfassla, din id-Direttiva tiġġenera is-sensazzjoni li l-ħajja personali tagħna hi taħt sorveljanza kontinwa.

Minħabba d-dipendenza tagħna fuq it-teknolġija diġitali kif applikata, per eżempju, fit-telefonija kif ukoll bl-użu kontinwu tal-internet, kull wieħed minna jħalli warajh traċċi kontinwi ta’ informazzjoni diġitali ta’ natura privata li jekk isir abbuż minna tista’ isservi ta’ theddida kontinwa għall-privatezza tagħna. Permezz tal-mobiles inħallu, per eżempju traċċi diġitali ta’ kull fejn inkunu f’kull ħin. Anke fuq l-internet, kif nafu ilkoll, inħallu warajna ħafna informazzjoni dwarna infusna. Ħafna minn din l-informazzjoni tista’ ma tfisser xejn, imma inħallu warajna ukoll, xi drabi bla ma nafu ħafna informazzjoni privata sensittiva. Min irid jabbuża minn din l-informazzjoni fil-fatt għandu fejn jixxala.

Ovvjament din it-tip ta’ informazzjoni jista’ jkollha użu importanti fil-ġlieda kontra l-kriminalita’. Imma daqskemm hi utli fil-ġlieda kontra l-kriminalita, daqstant ieħor tista’ issir ħsara jekk din l-informazzjoni, essenzjalment ta’ natura privata tiġi f’idejn u tintuża minn min m’għandux jedd għaliha.

Anke’ meta l-istat qiegħed jiġġieled kontra l-kriminalita’ m’għandu l-ebda jedd li jinjora d-drittijiet tagħna. F’kuntest diġitali l-iktar li jsir emfasi hu fuq il-privatezza tad-data kif ukoll li s-sidien tad-data huma n-nies individwali. Dan ifisser li la l-istat u l-anqas il-Korporazzjonijiet m’għandu jkollhom xi jedd assolut fuq informazzjoni diġitali ta’ natura privata. Fi ftit kliem la is-sigurta’ nazzjonali u l-anqas il-kummerċ m’għandhom iservu ta’ skuża biex fid-dinja diġtali jitnaqqru id-drittijiet tagħna.

Huwa essenzjali li f’din l-era diġitali kull ċittadin ikun imħares minn sorveljanza żejda mill-Gvernijiet u l-Korporazzjonijiet. L-informazzjoni personali la hi tal-istat u l-anqas tal-korporazzjonijiet. Għaldaqstant la l-istat u l-anqas il-korporazzjonijiet m’għandu jkollhom drittijiet fuq din l-informazzjoni li hi tagħna u mhux tagħhom.

Alternattva Demokratika u l-Ħodor Ewropej qegħdin fuq quddiem nett f’din il-ġlieda biex id-drittijiet diġitali tagħna jkunu imħarsa.

 

Ippubblikat fuq iNews it-Tlieta 6 ta’ Mejju 2014

L-iżball tal-Ministru George Vella

George Vella 5

George Vella hu persuna valida. Għandu l-ideat tiegħu. Ħadem favur tagħhom biex jara politika aħjar. L-affarijiet mhux dejjem ġew kif xtaq. Għandi kull rispett lejh. Diġa ktibt dwaru xi drabi oħra fuq dan il-blog.

Fl-intervista riċenti li kellu fuq is-CNN, George Vella bħala Ministru tal-Affarijiet Barranin qabad il-problema tal-immigrazzjoni irregolari minn sieqha.

Il-kundizzjonijiet fil-kampijiet tal-immigranti huma fatt. Ir-rewwixti f’dawn il-kampijiet huma fatt ukoll. Pero’ dawn m’humiex il-problema.

Il-problema hi waħda: sempliċi u ikkumplikata fl-istess ħin.

Ir-regoli interni tal-EU magħrufa komunement bħala l-Konvenzjoni ta’ Dublin, jew Dublin II wara xi emendi żgħar li kienu sarulha, ma jippermettux illi refuġjat jiċċaqlaq mill-pajjiż tal-EU li fih ikun niżel l-ewwel darba. Biex dawn ir-regolamenti jinbidlu jeħtieġu l-approvazzjoni tal-Gvernijiet membri tal-EU.

Biex jitnaqqas il-piż minn fuq Malta, Lampedusa (u l-Italja), kif ukoll minn fuq pajjiżi oħra li jkunu effettwati minn żmien għal żmien jeħtieġ li dawn ir-regoli ta’ Dublin jinbidlu.

Il-Ħodor Ewropej (European Greens), wara diskussjoni interna li fiha Alternattiva Demorkatika tat kontribut kbir jaqblu li dawn ir-regoli għandhom jinbidlu u dan biex tkun iffaċilitata l-qsim tar-responsabbilta’ (responsibility sharing) bejn il-pajjiżi kollha membri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja.

Martin Schultz, il-Kandidat Soċjalista għall-Presidenza tal-Kummissjoni Ewropeja iddikjara diġa li jaqbel ma dan.

Imma l-Gvernijiet Ewropej għadhom ma qablux.

X’għamel George Vella biex ta’ l-inqas jikkonvinċi lill-Gvernijiet immexxija mis-Soċjalisti?

Din hi l-probelma reali Dr Vella. Mhux aħjar tmidd għonqok għax-xogħol?

Naf li iebsa ħafna. Imma hi l-unika triq. Dejjem aħjar mill-paroli vojt u bla sens.

Luxembourg Greens in Government: 4 Cabinet posts

dei greng

The European Green Party is delighted to announce  that Déi Gréng, the Luxembourg Green party, are part of the country’s new government! The Greens have three ministers and a secretary of state from 4 December 2013. This is a truly historic moment for our member party and for the whole of the European Green political family and we offer our heartfelt congratulations on this impressive outcome.

An Extraordinary Congress of déi gréng on 4 December approved the coalition agreement reached between three parties on Monday 2 December. The Congress gave a green light to the government’s new programme and endorsed the Green members of the new government. François Bausch is Minister for Mobility spatial planning and Infrastructure; Felix Braz joins the cabinet as Minister for Justice; Carole Dieschbourg serves as Minister for Environment and Climate and Camille Gira will be the Secretary of State for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure.

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