Pluraliżmu anke fil-valuri

Wieħed mill-argumenti qawwija li lewnu d-dibattitu dwar id-dħul ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropeja kien li Malta ħtieġilha tidħol fis-seklu għoxrin qabel ma taħseb biex tissieħeb fl-Unjoni. Kien argumentat li kien hemm il-ħtieġa ta’ progress fuq ħafna fronti qabel ma Malta setgħet tissieħeb fl-UE. In-naħa l-oħra tal-argument, ovvjament, dejjem kien li s-sħubija minnha innifisha setgħet tkun il-katalist għat-tibdil tant meħtieġ fis-soċjetá Maltija. Għax il-bidla tista’ ddum biex isseħħ, imma fl-aħħar mhux possibli li tkun evitata. Kif jgħidu, tardare sí, scappare no!

Malta ssieħbet fl-UE fl-2004. Il-bidla fis-soċjetá Maltija għadha għaddejja, kultant b’ritmu mgħaġġel ħafna. Ir-referendum dwar id-divorzju li sar f’Mejju 2011 ħoloq terrimot, li, nistgħu ngħidu illi għadu għaddej.

Il-liġi dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ li l-Parliament approva iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa kienet pass ieħor f’din id-direzzjoni. Kienet deskritta bħala “immorali” (Edwin Vassallo), “Marxista” (Clyde Puli), “kommunista” (Herman Schiavone) kif ukoll “tal-Korea ta’ Fuq ” (Tonio Fenech).

Dawn it-tikketti juru kif jaħdem moħħ dawk li qed jirreżistu din il-bidla. Mid-dehra ħadd minn dawn il-kritiċi tal-leġislazzjoni dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieg ma fehem li dan il-pass kien ukoll il-konsegwenza loġika tal-emenda kostituzzjonali, approvata mill-Parlament fil-leġislatura l-oħra liema emenda kienet iċċarat li d-diskriminazzjoni minħabba l-ġeneru kienet ipprojibita ukoll. L-intolleranti fost l-Insara fostna jgħidu li dawk li jappoġġaw l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ huma “bla valuri”. Dawn għadhom ma irrealizzawx li l-valuri tagħhom m’humiex l-unika valuri. Qed ngħixu f’soċjetá bi pluralitá ta’ valuri. Ħadd m’għandu monopolju, la dwar il-valuri u l-anqas dwar dak li hu tajjeb jew ħażin.

Uħud mill-kelliema ewlenin tal-Opposizzjoni, minkejja li ddikjaraw l-appoġġ għal-liġi taħt konsiderazzjoni, xorta dehrilhom li kellhom jużaw il-ħin ta’ diskorshom bi kliem dispreġġattiv dwar dak propost. Dan il-lingwaġġ mimli insulti użat fid-dibattitu parlamentari sfortunatament jirrifletti fuq l-Opposizzjoni Nazzjonalista kollha, anke fuq dawk li għamlu sforz ġenwin u qagħdu attenti li jużaw  lingwaġġ konċiljattiv biex jikkomunikaw ħsiebijiethom.

L-opposizzjoni konservattiva qegħda fir-rokna. Min-naħa l-waħda riedet tħabbar mal-erbat irjieħ tal-pajjiż li issa kkonvertiet u ser tkun fuq quddiem biex tiddefendi d-drittijiet tal-komunitá LGBTIQ. Min-naħa l-oħra iżda, l-Opposizzjoni ma setgħetx tinjora l-fatt li għad għandha dipendenza qawwija fuq appoġġ minn l-agħar elementi ta’ intolleranza reliġjuża fil-pajjiż, dawk jiġifieri li għadhom iqiesu d-drittijiet LGBTIQ bħal materja ta’ “immoralitá pubblika”.  Edwin Vassallo kien l-iktar wieħed ċar fi kliemu meta iddikjara li l-kuxjenza tiegħu ma tippermettilux li jivvota favur dak li huwa ddeskriva bħala proposta leġislattiva “immorali”.

Fi ftit sekondi Vassallo (u oħrajn) ħarbat dak li kien ilu jippjana Simon Busuttil sa minn meta kien elett Kap tal-PN.  Dan wassal lil uħud biex jispekulaw dwar jekk l-Insara intolleranti, id-demokristjani u l-liberali fil-PN jistgħux jibqgħu jikkoabitaw wisq iktar.

Dan kollu jikkuntrasta mal-mod kif ġiebu ruħhom il-konservattivi fil-Partit Laburista. Dawn, minħabba kalkuli politiċi, ippreferew li jew jibqgħu ħalqhom magħluq inkella qagħdu attenti ħafna dwar dak li qalu. Jidher li tgħallmu xi ħaġa mid-dibattitu dwar id-divorzju!

L-approvazzjoni mill-Parliament tal-liġi dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ huwa pass ieħor il-quddiem favur il-pluraliżmu tal-valuri. Il-Parlament aċċetta l-pluraliżmu tal-valuri u iddeċieda li kulħadd jixraqlu r-rispett. Għandna bżonn nifhmu, lkoll kemm aħna, li qed ngħixu f’soċjetá bi pluralitá ta’ valuri li lkoll jixirqilhom ir-rispett. Hu possibli li ma naqblux, imma li ninsulentaw lil xulxin minħabba li nħaddnu valuri differenti ma jagħmilx sens. Xejn m’hu ser jibdel il-fatt li ħadd ma għandu monoplju fuq il-valuri li f’numru ta’ każi jikkontrastaw.

Malta illum introduċiet l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ. M’aħniex ser indumu biex nindunaw li dan ser jagħmel lis-soċjetá tagħna waħda aħjar, għal kulħadd.

ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 16 ta’ Lulju 2017

Value Pluralism

One of the arguments made during the debate prior to Malta joining the European Union was that before it did so, Malta should open its doors to the 21st century. It was argued that much progress needed to be made before Malta could join the EU. The flip side of this argument was that EU membership could be the right catalyst for change that Maltese society needed, because change can be obstructed and delayed but, in the long term, it cannot be stopped.

Malta did join the EU in 2004 and the opening of the doors (and windows) of change is currently work-in-progress. The divorce referendum held in May 2011 opened the floodgates to a recognition of the fact that Maltese society was in a state of rapid change, making up for lost time.

The Marriage Equality Reform legislation approved in Parliament earlier this week was another step. It was described as “immoral” (Edwin Vassallo), “Marxist” (Clyde Puli), “communist” (Herman Schiavone) or even “North Korean” (Tonio Fenech).

These labels identify the frame of mind of those resisting change. Apparently, none of these critics of marriage equality legislation has yet realised that this step is the direct legal consequence of the Constitutional amendment, approved by Parliament some years back, which spelled out in unequivocal terms the prohibition of discrimination based on gender.

The intolerant Christian right argues that legislation proposing marriage equality is the result of a society which has lost its values. They have not realised that their “values” are not the only ones around: we live in a society where a plurality of values is a fact. The Christian right has no monopoly: either on values or on what is right or wrong.

A number of leading Opposition spokespersons, notwithstanding their declaration of support for the proposed legislation, deemed it fit to hurl never-ending insults against the proposals being debated and all that these represented. This insulting language used during the parliamentary debate is a sad reflection on the whole of the PN Opposition, even on those who sought to apply the brakes and in fact used more conciliatory language to convey their thoughts.

The conservative opposition is in a tight corner. On the one hand it wanted to announce in unequivocal terms its recent “conversion” to championing LGBTIQ rights. At the same time the Opposition could not ignore the fact that it is still chained to an intolerant Christian right which labels LGBTIQ rights as morally reprehensible. Edwin Vassallo was the most unequivocal when he declared that his conscience would not permit him to vote in favour of what he described as an “immoral” legislative proposal.

In a couple of seconds, Vassallo and others blew up what had been carefully constructed by Simon Busuttil since assuming the PN leadership, causing some to speculate whether the cohabitation of the conservative Christian right, Christian Democrats and liberals in the PN can last much longer.

In contrast, even if for political expediency, the conservatives in the Labour Party parliamentary group have either kept their mouth shut or else watched their language. It seems that they have learnt some lessons from the divorce referendum debate.

Parliament’s approval last Wednesday of the Marriage Equality Legislation is another step in entrenching the acceptance of value pluralism. Parliament has accepted value pluralism and decided that it was time to respect everyone.

We need to realise that we form part of a society with a plurality of values, all of which deserve the utmost respect. It is possible to disagree, but insulting people because they have different values than one’s own is not on. A society with a plurality of values is a fact and nobody will or can change that.

Malta has now introduced marriage equality. As a result, our society will show a marked improvement that will have a positive impact on all of us.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 16 July 2017

For sale : access to the decision-taking process

 

 

The Lowenbrau saga has raised another issue as to the extent that revolving door recruitment should be regulated. By revolving door recruitment I am referring to the movement from government service to private sector lobbying and vice-versa of holders of political office as well as of senior civil servants. As a result of such recruitment, an investment is being made in the access to the decision-taking process which is purchased or offered for sale.

Last Sunday, The Malta Independent on Sunday understandably raised the issue with reference to former Minister John Dalli in the article Revolving doors: John Dalli denies conflict of interest in Lowenbrau deal  (TMIS 22 January). However, the issue is much wider. It is a matter which is of concern in respect of the manner of operation of lobbying which in this country is largely unregulated. It has already happened not just in Mr Dalli’s recruitment with the Marsovin Group but also when the Corinthia Group recruited both Mr Dalli as well as current EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella.

It concerns both holders of political office as well as senior civil servants, including senior officers of authorities exercising executive authority.

There is much to learn from foreign jurisdictions as to the manner in which such recruitment should be regulated. A recent example which made the international headlines was the recruitment by Goldman Sachs of Josè Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission.  An ethics panel had described Mr Barroso’s behaviour as morally reprehensible even though it concluded that he was not in breach of the EU Integrity code.

Corporate Europe Observatory had then commented that the Barroso recruitment had “catapulted the EU’s revolving door problem onto the political agenda, causing widespread jaw-dropping and reactions of disbelief, making it a symbol of excessive corporate influence at the highest levels of the EU.”  Corporate Europe Observatory had also referred to the recruitment of other former European Commissioners by various corporations and emphasised that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that as a result of this behaviour European politicians are seen to be acting for private interests over the public interest.

This is the real significance of revolving door recruitment:  it needs to be ascertained that the potential abuse by holders of political office of milking public office for private gain is regulated. It is not just another layer of regulation or unnecessary bureaucracy.

The issue is however more complex than the recruitment of holders of political office at the end of their political appointment. It is also of relevance even when such holders of political office are appointed to such office from the private sector as can be ascertained through the current hearings by the US Senate of the Trump administration nominees. It is also applicable to senior civil servants from the wider public sector.

Parliament is currently debating a Standards in Public Life Bill, which at this point in time is pending examination at Committee stage. Unfortunately, revolving door recruitment as well as lobbying have not been considered by the legislator!   Revolving door recruitment is an exercise in selling and purchasing access to the decision-taking process. It is high time that it is placed under a continuous spotlight.

published in The Malta Independent: Wednesday 25 January 2017

Tax avoidance: does Malta play a role?

basf-malta

On 30 August, the European Union, through Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, ordered Apple Corporation to pay €13 billion in unpaid taxes to the Irish state.  The EU ruling considered that the special tax treatment of Apple, whose tax bill was substantially reduced, amounted to unlawful state aid.

In November 2014, through Luxleaks, we learnt of tax avoidance schemes in Luxembourg and elsewhere, as a result of which billions of euros in tax were being avoided by multinational corporations.

The EU has subsequently launched various investigations into the favourable tax treatment which Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Belgium have granted to various multinationals.

As a contribution to the on-going debate on tax avoidance in the EU, the Green Group in the European Parliament has recently published a study on the tax avoidance strategies adopted by the industrial giant BASF, the largest chemical company in the world.

Founded in 1865, BASF has its headquarters in Ludwigshafen, Germany, from where it manages a €70.4 billion turnover with production sites in 80 countries.

Malta features in this report together with Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Over the years, BASF has 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.

Chapter VIII of the report, published by the Green Group in the European Parliament, deals with Malta. It refers to the existence of a BASF subsidiary in Malta which held €5.07 billion in assets. These assets where transferred to a new German subsidiary, BASF Finance Malta GMBH, which was managed from an office in St Julian’s, thereby creating the eligibility for preferential tax treatment which could amount to as much as a refund of six-sevenths of all tax payable in Malta.

All this is a clearly planned movement of profits through generous loopholes as a way of avoiding most of, if not all, of the taxation which would be due under normal circumstances.

This abuse of the differences in national tax systems needs to be addressed urgently. As rightly stated by Malta’s Finance Minister Edward Scicluna at a Luxembourg ECOFIN meeting last September, the way forward lies in coordination at an EU level and not in the harmonisation of the national taxation systems, as some EU member states are insisting.

Tax competition has a role to play as an important tool that small and peripheral countries in the EU have at their disposal. No one should expect these countries to throw away the small advantage they have, but it should be clear that this should be used responsibly and in no way should it buttress the urge of multinationals to circumvent the national taxation system where their profits are generated.

Profits should be taxed where they are actually generated and not elsewhere. The EU needs to end – once and for all – not only tax evasion but also tax avoidance resulting from loopholes in national tax rules. For this to happen, the member states must not only be vigilant, but must also refrain from encouraging tax avoidance through the creation of more loopholes.

Tackling tax evasion and tax avoidance seriously will mean that taxes are paid where they are due, thereby funding the services and infrastructure that is required in a modern, civilised society. This can only happen if more companies pay their dues. Tax competition need not be a race to the bottom.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 4 December 2016

A Secret Plan for Delimara

external-emergency-plan-censored

The Seveso Directive of the European Union is a legal instrument originally enacted in 1982. Subsequently amended, the present version was enacted in 2012 and is referred to as the Seveso III Directive.

Its full name is “Directive 2012/18/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances, amending and subsequently repealing Council Directive 96/82/EC”. It has also been transposed into Maltese legislation through the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 2015.

As the technical name implies, the Seveso III Directive seeks to regulate sites which have the potential for major industrial accidents. It seeks to achieve its aim primarily through prevention but also by planning to minimise the impact of accidents which may occur on such sites.

The Directive was originally enacted as a result of the industrial accident in the Italian town of Seveso in 1976, when toxic fumes emitted from a chemical plant contaminated the surrounding residential area. It aims to improve the safety of such sites, both the safety of the employees working in such sites and the safety of residents, and the commercial communities, in the area.

One such site is the Delimara power station. This site has to follow the rules set out in the Seveso III Directive and in the Maltese regulations which transpose it into Maltese law.

Through these regulations, the Civil Protection Department is responsible for prepare emergency plans to be applied in the event of an accident.  There has to be an internal plan, one that applies to the industrial plant itself, and an external emergency plan, that applies beyond the boundaries of the plant.

The internal emergency plan is drawn up in conjunction with the management of the plant and discussed with the staff. Members of staff are undoubtedly trained not just in the correct running of the plant but also with regard to the protocol they should follow if there is an accident.

The external emergency plan concerns residents and business in the vicinity of the industrial plant. The Seveso III Directive requires that such a plan be subject to public consultation. In fact, regulation 10(5) of the Control of Major Hazard Regulations 2015 states  “The Civil Protection Department shall ensure that the public concerned is given early opportunity to give its opinion on external emergency plans when they are being established or substantially modified.”

Today is, in fact, the closing day for a public consultation exercise organised by the Environment and Resources Authority in respect of the Delimara Power Station. Among the documents which the Authority published for consultation one finds a report entitled External Emergency Plan prepared by the Civil Protection Department. However, the report made available is only part of the full report as the most important part – the part on operational issues – is missing. The available partial-report makes interesting reading, but  we are informed that the censored part has been removed as its availability would be “a threat to national security”.

Those running the Department of Civil Protection are maybe not aware that they have the duty to inform and that in this day and age they have no authority to act as a big brother. The public has the right to be informed and this right is the prerequisite for its active involvement in the formulation and eventual approval of the external emergency plan.

In a democratic society the right of the public to be informed is a basic element of good governance. By opting for secrecy, the Department of Civil Protection has chosen to take a completely different path – one that ignores the citizen and his right to participate in meaningful actions and decisions.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 27 November 2016

Brexit u l-artiklu 50 tat-trattat ta’ Liżbona

house-of-commons

 

Fil-Qrati Ingliżi infetaħ l-ewwel kaz dwar ir-referendum Ingliż. Il-Guardian illum tirrapporta li saret l-ewwel talba lill-Qrati Ingliżi li issostni illi l-Prim Ministru Ingliż m’għandux id-dritt li jibda l-proċess tal-ħruġ tar-Renju Unit mill-Unjoni Ewropeja mingħajr ma l-ewwel ikollu l-approvazzjoni tal-Parlament.

Uħud qed jinterpretaw dan bħala li l-Parlament Ingliż jista’ jkollu l-poter li jmur kontra x-xewqat ta-elettorat kif espress fir-riżultat tar-referendum tat-23 ta’ Ġunju. Ċertament li dan mhux il-każ. Għax għalkemm fis-sistema legali Ingliża l-Parlament hu suprem din is-supremazija legali mhux ser tintuża kontra r-rieda popolari espressa b’mod daqstant ċar mill-elettorat.

X’ser jiġri issa hu diffiċli biex tgħid. Imma hu possibli li jekk il-Qrati Ingliżi jaċċettaw it-talba li qed issirilhom u jiddeċiedu li qabel ma issir id-dikjarazzjoni skond l-artiklu 50 tat-Trattat ta’ Liżbona jkun hemm il-kunsens tal-Parlament, il-Gvern ewroxekkitiku tar-Renju Unit (immexxi minn Theresa May jew Andrea Leadsom) ikun soġġett għal Parlament li fil-maġġoranza tiegħu hu magħmul minn Membri Parlamentari li m’humiex favur il-ħruġ tar-Renju Unit mill-Unjoni Ewropeja.

Dan jista’ jwassal għal diversi kundizzjonijiet li possibilment ikun jista’ jimponi l-Parlament. Fosthom li kull ftehim dwar il-ħruġ tar-Renju Unit mill-Unjoni Ewropeja jkun soġġett għall-approvazzjoni tal-istess Parlament! Dan bla dubju joħloq problemi kbar għall-applikazzjoni tal-artiklu 50 tat-trattat ta’ Liżbona. Ikun ifisser ukoll li neċessarjament ikun meħtieg perjodu ta’ negozjati qabel ma jkun applikat l-artiklu 50. Għax minkejja li l-Kummissjoni Ewropeja ma tridx tinnegozja dwar dan, it-trattat ta’ Liżbona ma jagħmilx limitazzjoni ta’ din ix-xorta.

Imma bla dubju jekk dan iseħħ ikun qed jagħti l-poter kompletament f’idejn il-Parlament u jassoġġetta lill-Gvern tal-ġurnata għall-iskrutinju strett tal-istess Parlament. Użat b’mod responsabbli, dan il-poter bla dubju jista’ jwassal għal żviluppi interessanti.

Brexit : issa nistennew is-siegħa tal-prova

Brexit 2

Huwa tajjeb li l-bieraħ il-Gvern Malti u l-Opposizzjoni fil-Parlament qablu illi fil-każ Brexit Malta għandha tfittex dak li hu fl-interess nazzjonali.

Ħadd ma għandu interess li jfittex l-interess nazzjonali Malti ħlief il-politiċi Maltin. La r-Renju Unit, la l-Ġermanja, la Franza u l-anqas l-Italja u insomma ħadd iktar ħliefna.

Diġa rajna tul is-snin kif il-parti l–kbira tal-pajjiżi l-oħra fl-Unjoni Ewropeja bdew jagħtu ftit każ ta’ Malta meta bdew ġejjin f’sitwazzjoni simili, bħal per eżempju fil-każ tal-immigranti Sirjani. Konna ilna s-snin nitkellmu dwar il-ħtieġa li kulħadd jerfa’ sehmu. Imma anke issa li intlaqtu pajjiżi oħra ukoll għadhom mexjin bil-mod wisq.

Wara l-paroli vojt fil-prietki ta’ tmiem il-ġimgħa fil-każini politiċi, l-bieraħ kien mument ta’ ħafna kliem sabiħ. Naraw kif jiżviluppaw l-affarijiet fil-ġimgħat li ġejjin, fis-siegħa tal-prova!

Brexit : issa x’imiss?

downing-street

L-istennija dwar dak li ser jiġri fir-Renju Unit wara r-riżultat tar-referendum qed tikber.

Bla dubju jista’ jkun hemm impatt ekonomiku qawwi, inkluż telf ta’ impiegi. Fil-qasam finanzjarju b’mod partikolari hu stmat li jistgħu jintilfu sa’ 70,000 impieg  matul it-tnax-il xahar li gejjin, unikament minħabba r-riżultat tar-referendum.

X’ser jiġri ser ikun jiddependi ħafna minn min jirbaħ l-elezzjoni għat-tmexxija tal-Partit Konservattiv Ingliż. Michael Gove u Theresa May diġa iddikjaraw illi jekk jirbħu huma għandhom ta’ l-inqas sal-aħħar tas-sena biex jibdew il-process tat-tluq mill-Unjoni Ewropeja. Dan ifisser li kemm Gove kif ukoll May iridu jimxu b’mod kawt. Min-naħa l-oħra, kandidata oħra għat-tmexxija konservattiva, Andrea Leadsom iddikjarat illi jekk eletta hi tattiva mill-ewwel il-proċeduri stabiliti fl-artiklu 50 tat-Trattat ta’ Liżbona.

Dewmien ma jfissirx biss effetti negattivi. Imma jfisser ukoll il-possibilità li dawk li qed jirreżistu li jkun hemm negozjati qabel mar-Renju Unit idabbar rasu jerġgħu jaħsbuha. In-negozjati mmedjati jistgħu jkunu kruċjali. Għax kif ġustament ikkummenta l-ex-Prim Ministru Laburista Ingliz Tony  Blair il-bieraħ, hu possibli li l-opinjoni pubblika terġa’ taħsibha hekk kif ikunu magħrufa l-kundizzjonijiet tat-tluq.

Hi posizzjoni fluwida ħafna, li, sakemm ma jiġrix xi ħaġa straordinarja, ser tibqa’ hekk sakemm jinħatar Prim Ministru ġdid tar-Renju Unit.

Awaiting Brexit?

EU-UK

Will the United Kingdom exit the European Union? There is the distinct possibility that the answer to that question will depend on how long it takes for a decision to be taken.

The main political parties in the United Kingdom are currently dealing with the fallout of the Brexit referendum. The Conservatives are in the process of electing a new leader to replace David Cameron, who has resigned, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is licking the wounds inflicted by the Vote of No Confidence passed by Labour’s Parliamentary Group.

In the meantime, the EU is awaiting the triggering of the exit procedures as established by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. David Cameron has conveniently passed on the baton to his successor, so far undetermined. Two of the contenders for this position, Theresa May and Michael Gove, on the other hand, have said that if elected, Article 50 will definitely not be triggered before the end of the year.

Given that applying Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty signifies the potential cancellation of a large part of EU legislation currently applicable in the UK, it stands to reason that it is only through an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament that the authority to trigger the application of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty can be attained.

A basic bone of contention is whether the UK will trigger the provisions of Article 50 before or after it enters discussions with the EU. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is adamant that no discussions should take place before the UK triggers Article 50. Yet this does not make sense for the UK, because once Article 50 has been triggered, there is no going back. It makes much more sense, and is also in line with the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, for the EU and the UK to discuss the terms of an exit in accordance with their respective political priorities.

The issues are clear enough: whether access to the European single market should be tied to the four freedoms, that is freedom of movement of capital, goods, people and services.

Implementing Brexit should mean that the UK’s position is crystal clear: it is against the free movement of people. In fact, this is what the “taking back control” phrase of the ‘leave’ campaign means. Translated into an agreement regulating the UK’s exit from the EU, it should mean that there is no possibility of the EU conceding access to the single market. But will the UK’s political position be that clear and unequivocal? Many in the leave campaign want to have their cake and eat it. They want the benefits of membership (access to the single market) without shouldering the burdens (free movement of people). This is clearly not possible and can be made amply clear in formal or informal discussions prior to triggering Article 50.

The (new) UK government will have some serious homework to do before it sits down at the negotiating table. If it sticks to the Brexit conclusions, the terms of the agreement regulating the UK’s exit from the EU should not take long to identify. It will, however, not be that simple and ultimately it will depend on the composition of the new UK government.

_________

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty

  1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
  2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
  3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : July 3, 2016

Il-libertà tal-moviment tal-persuni fl-Unjoni Ewropeja u r-Renju Unit

freedom of movement of persons

Waħda mill-affarijiet li ħarġet ċara mis-Summit tal-Unjoni Ewropeja tal-bieraħ hi li l-benefiċċju tal-aċċess għas-suq wiehed mhuwiex mingħajr responsabbiltajiet. Ilha ċara imma hemm għamel ta’ bir-ruħu mod ieħor.

L-aċċess għas-suq wieħed Ewropew iġib miegħu numru ta’ responsabbiltajiet bażiċi. Waħda minn dawn hi l-aċċettazzjoni ta’ dawk li nirreferu għalihom bħala l-erba’ libertaijiet  [the four freedoms] : il-libertà tal-moviment liberu tal-merkanzija, tal-kapital, tas-servizzi u tan-nies.

Ir-Renju Unit irid jillimita l-libertà tal-moviment liberu tan-nies.

Għadhom ma fehmux li r-regoli mhumiex a la carte. Għax dawn huma prinċipji fundamentali li fuqhom hi mibnija l-Unjoni Ewropeja.

Stimi jindikaw li fir-Renju Unit hemm 3.3 miljun ċittadin mis-27 pajjiżi l-oħra membri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja li minnhom 2.1 miljun qed jaħdmu.

Min-naħa l-oħra hemm 1.2 miljun ċittadin mir-Renju Unit li qed jgħixu fis-27 pajjiż membri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja. L-ikbar komunitajiet qegħdin fi Spanja ( 309,000), l-Irlanda ( 255,000), Franza (185,000) u l-Ġermanja ( 103,000). 800,000 huma ħaddiema u d-dipendenti tagħhom fil-waqt li 400,000 huma pensjonanti.

Skond iċ-ċensiment tal-2011 kien hawn 6,652 ċittadin tar-Renju Unit jgħixu f’Malta. Nafu ukoll li madwar 28,000 Malti kellhom dritt tal-vot fir-referendum tar-Renju Unit.