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

Malta, il-Lussimburgu u l-evażjoni tat-taxxa

Juncker + Muscat

Matul il-ġranet li għaddew segwejna l-informazzjoni żvelata dwar il-Lussimburgu. Kif l-awtoritajiet tat-taxxa tal-pajjiż, fiż-żmien li Jean Claude Juncker kien Prim Ministru innegozjaw ma numru ta’ kumpaniji kbar status fiskali li permezz tiegħu setgħu “jiffrankaw” biljuni kbar f’taxxi.

Din li jiffrankaw fil-fatt ma hi xejn għajr evazjoni legalizzata tat-taxxa. Biex ma jħallsux taxxa f’pajjiż jagħmlu użu mil-liġijiet ta’ pajjiż ieħor. Għal min hu fil-business dan hu aċċettabbli. Fil-fatt meta kien ippressat mill-istampa Jean Claude Juncker qal li dak li ġara kien legali imma jifhem li mhux aċċettabbli etikament.

Għax il-politika m’għandiex x’taqsam biss mal-liġi. Dak li hu legali mhux dejjem huwa aċċettabbli. Fil-prattika, l-Lussimburgu taħt it-tmexxija ta’ Juncker għamlitha possibli lil numru ta’ multinazzjonali jħallsu ħafna inqas f’taxxi.  Dan hu etikament ħażin. Għax ċaħħdet lill-pajjiżi fejn joperaw dawn il-kumpaniji minn taxxi li kienu meħtieġa għal programmi soċjali f’dawk il-pajjiżi.

L-argumenti politiċi li jinġiebu s’issa huma dawk dwar il-kompetizzjoni fiskali. Jiġifieri li ġaladarba t-tassazzjoni hi kompetenza tal-istati membri fl-Unjoni Ewropeja, x’rati ta’ taxxa jitħallsu u minn min hu determinabbli biss individwalment mill-istati membri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja.

Imma issa hemm min qed jargumenta li meta pajjiż jagħti status fiskali privileġġjat lil dawn il-kumpaniji biex jiġbdhom lejn il-pajjiż, idaħħal ftit taxxi minn fuqhom kif ukoll joħloq numru ta’ impiegi konnessi mar-reġistrazzjoni u l-amministrazzjoni tal-kumpaniji, dan kollu hu għajnuna mill-istat (state aid) liema għajnuna mhiex aċċettabbli.

Għalhekk fetħet investigazzjoni dwar il-Lussimburgu li qed titmexxa mill-Kummissarju għall-Kompetizzjoni, id-Daniża Margrethe Vestager.

Hu inevitabbli li dan kollu f’xi stadju ser iħalli impatt fuq is-settur finanzjarju f’Malta. Huwa magħruf li bosta xogħol f’dan il-qasam ġie f’Malta minħabba pakkett ta’ inċentivi li jinkludi rati ta’ taxxa favorevoli ħafna. Fi ftit kliem dawn il-kumpaniji ġew hawn għax jaqblilhom. Jaqblilhom għax iħallsu ftit taxxi ħdejn li jkollhom iħallsu f’pajjiżi oħra. Bħala riżultat ta’ dan qed jagħtu kontribut lill-ekonomija tal-pajjiż kif ukoll qed jiġġeneraw numru mhux żgħir ta’ impiegi.

Il-problema hi li dan kollu huwa ibbażat fuq l-evażjoni tat-taxxa f’pajjiżi  oħra. Hi problema li rridu niffaċċjaw fix-xhur li ġejjin meta l-Kummissjoni Ewropeja tiddeċiedi jekk tiftaħx investigazzjoni dwar Malta kif ukoll dwar pajjiżi oħra fosthom l-Irlanda u dan wara li tiżviluppa ftit ieħor l-investigazzjoni dwar il-Lussimburgu.

Tajjeb li l-istat Malti jiġġieled f’Malta kontra l-evażjoni tat-taxxa. Imma imbagħad hi ipokrezija politika li Malta tfittex li tibbenefika mill-evażjoni tat-taxxa f’pajjiżi oħra.  Jew aħna kontra l-evażjoni jew m’aħniex!  Ma nistgħux inkunu kredibbli bħala pajjiż jekk nibqgħu niżviluppaw l-ekonomija tagħna fuq l-evażjoni tat-taxxi f’pajjiżi oħra.  L-ekonomija u l-etika għandhom jimxu id f’id.

Malta’s EU story : the environment

JOINT SEMINAR BY THE OFFICE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT IN MALTA AND THE TODAY PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE

Friday 3 October 2014

address by Carmel Cacopardo

eu-flag

 

Since Malta’s EU accession there has been a marked contrast of interest in issues related to environmental governance.

EU accession has generally had a positive influence on Maltese environmental governance.  A flow of EU funds has been applied to various areas which Maltese governments throughout the years did not consider worthy of investing in.  On the one hand we had governments “occasionally” applying the brakes, seeking loopholes, real or imaginary,  in order to ensure that lip service  is not accidentally translated into meaningful action. On the other hand civil society has, in contrast, and  as a result of EU accession identified a new source of empowerment, at times ready to listen, however slow to react and at times ineffective.

Land use planning and abusive hunting/trapping have for many years been the main items on the local environment agenda. Water, air quality, climate change, alternative energy, biodiversity, noise, light pollution, organic agriculture, waste management and sustainable development have rightfully claimed a place in the agenda during the past 10 years. Some more frequently, others occasionally.

Land use planning has been on the forefront of civil society’s environmental agenda for many years. Abusive land use planning in the 80s fuelled and was fuelled by corruption. It led to various public manifestations in favour of the environment then equated almost  exclusively with the impacts of land development. Many such manifestations ended up in violence. Whilst this may be correctly described as history, it is occasionally resurrected  as in the recent public manifestation of hunters protesting against the temporary closure of the autumn hunting season.

Whilst hunting and land use planning may still be the main items on Malta’ environmental agenda the ecological deficit which we face is substantially deeper and wider.  It is generally the result of myopic policies.

For example it is well known that public transport has been practically ignored for the past 50 years, including the half-baked reform of 2010. This is the real cause of Malta’s very high car ownership (around 750 vehicles per 1000 population). As the Minister of Finance rightly exclaimed during a pre-budget public consultation exercise earlier this week traffic congestion is a major issue of concern, not just environmental but also economic. Impacting air quality, requiring additional land uptake to construct new roads or substantial funds to improve existing junctions traffic congestion is a drain on our resources. May I suggest that using EU funds to improve our road network  will delay by several years the shifting of custom to public transport, when we will have one which is worthy of such a description.

The mismanagement of water resources over the years is another important issue. May I suggest that millions of euros in EU funds have been misused  to institutionalise the mismanagement of water resources. This has been done through the construction of a network of underground tunnels to channel stormwater to the sea.  The approval of such projects is only possible when one  has no inkling of what sustainable management of water resources entails. Our ancestors had very practical and sustainable solutions: they practised water harvesting through the construction of water cisterns beneath each and every residence, without exception. If we had followed in their footsteps the incidence of stormwater in our streets, sometimes having the smell of raw sewage due to an overflowing public sewer, would be substantially less. And in addition we would also avoid overloading our sewage purification plants.

Our mismanagement of water resources also includes the over-extraction of ground water and the failure to introduce an adequate system of controls throughout the years such that  most probably there will be no more useable water in our water table very shortly. In this respect the various deadlines established in the Water Framework Directive would be of little use.

Whilst our Cabinet politicians have developed a skill of trying to identify loopholes in the EU’s acquis (SEA and Birds Directive) they also follow bad practices in environmental governance.

It is known that fragmentation of environmental responsibilities enables politicians to pay lip service to environmental governance but then creating real and practical obstacles in practice.

Jean Claude Juncker, the President elect of the EU Commission has not only diluted environmental governance by assigning responsibility for the environment together with that for fisheries and maritime policy as well as assigning energy with climate change. He has moreover hived off a number of responsibilities from the DG Environment to other DGs namely Health and Enterprise.

In Malta our bright sparks have anticipated his actions. First on the eve of EU accession they linked land use planning with the Environment in an Authority called MEPA with the specific aim of suffocating the environment function in an authority dominated by development. Deprived of human resources including the non-appointment of a Director for the Environment for long stretches of time, adequate environmental governance could never really get off the ground.

Now we will shortly be presented with the next phase: another fragmentation by the demerger of the environment and planning authority.

In the short time available I have tried to fill in the gaps in the environment section of the document produced by The Today Public Policy Institute. The said document rightly emphasises various achievements. It does however state that prior to EU accession the environment was not given its due importance by local policy makers. Allow me to submit that much still needs to be done and that the progress made to date is insufficient.

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.

 

 

Karmenu Vella : wirja fqira ħafna fi Brussels

Karmenu Vella.Brussels 290914

 

Il-wirja ta’ Karmenu Vella illum huwa u jwieġeb il-mistoqsjiet tal-Membri Parlamentari Ewropej kienet waħda fqira.

Mhux biss ma kellux għarfien adegwat tal-oqsma ambjentali, talli ma wera l-ebda ħeġġa jew viżjoni dwar d-diversi oqsma li kien mistoqsi dwarhom. Tant li Claude Turmes, il-membru Parlamentari tal-Ħodor tal-Lussemburgu ħass il-ħtieġa li jsaqsieħ jekk Juncker taħx struzzjonijiet biex ma jikkommettix ruħu.

Tlift il-kont ta’ kemm il-darba ma kienx f’posizzjoni li jirrispondi, ma tax risposta jew qagħad idur mal-lewża. Buzz-words uża kemm trid. Imma meta kien mitlub ikun konkret f’dak li qed jgħid naqas milli jagħmel dan.

Anke dwar id-Direttiva dwar l-Għasafar żelaq meta ipprova jgħid x’għandu f’moħħu Juncker meta taħ l-inkarigu biex jikkonsolida din id-Direttiva u dik dwar il-Habitats. L-ikbar ċertifikat tawhulu l-Birdlife International meta qalu li : I don’t think we can feel reassured in any way by his performance.

Minkejja dan kollu l-Grupp Soċjalista hu sodisfatt u l-grupp tal-Popolari jafu li x’aktarx li ser ikollhom jitwikkew bih, għax hekk ftehmu ma’ Gianni Pitella u Martin Schultz. Inkella Juncker ma jkollux l-appoġġ tas-Soċjalisti!

Imma x’ser jiġri eżatt għadu mhux ċar, għax għad irridu naraw kif ser imorru l-Kummissarji kollha. Imbagħad jibdew jittieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet.

Nagħlaq b’kumment tal-Greens fil-Parlament Ewropew dwar Karmenu Vella:

Do you think he is suitable for the portfolio he has been assigned?

Not really. He is fully loyal to the political direction that has been outlined by Commission president-elect Juncker. He is capable of lip service on sustainable development (green growth), but did not demonstrate any willingness to take on industry opposition. He lacks commitment and conviction about the issues. It is difficult to imagine him confronting commissioners defending industry interests. He did not come across as a fighter, which is disappointing for one of the most important commissioners for the Greens.

Għall-kummenti kompleti tal-Greens dwar Karmenu Vella agħfas hawn.

 

Karmenu Vella : kontroversja bla ħtieġa

Junker + Vella

 

Għada waranofsinnhar Karmenu Vella jippreżenta ruħu biex ikun eżaminat minn żewġ kumitati tal-Parlament Ewropew.

Fid-dibattitu pubbliku li ilu għaddej mill-10 ta’ Settembru 2014, id-diffikulta prinċipali mhiex il-persuna ta’ Karmenu Vella, imma d-deċiżjoni politika li ħa Jean Claude Juncker dwar ir-responsabbiltajiet li assenja lil Karmenu Vella u lil oħrajn. Fl-ittra li ntbagħatet mill-Grupp tal-Ħodor lil Jean Claude Juncker nhar il-Ġimgħa li għaddiet dan kien ċar ħafna u jpoġġi f’perspettiva l-argumenti kollha.

Karmenu Vella il-persuna jidher li ma hu fil-mira ta’ kważi ħadd. L-unika kritika diretta lejh kienet dik tal-Corporate Europe Observatory. Għalhekk ma nistax nifhem kif fl-aħħar siegħat ħoloq il-kontroversja hu stess meta ġew ippubblikati t-tweġibiet li kien mitlub jagħti bil-miktub għal xi mistoqsijiet li sarulu. Hi kontroversja li kien ikunu ħafna għaqli li kieku evita. Imma tawh pariri ħżiena!

Il-gazzetti tal-lum (apparti l-Kullħadd u t-Torċa li baqgħu siekta) kienu mimlijin bil-kummenti li juru kemm Karmenu Vella żbalja bl-ikraħ meta qal li hu ivvota biex Malta tissieħeb fl-Unjoni Ewropeja meta hu ċar li sa ftit ġranet qabel il-votazzjoni tar-referendum tal-2003 hu kien involut b’mod attiv favur il-LE, anke f’dibattitu fuq it-TV.

Issa din kienet kontroversja bla ħtieġa għal Karmenu Vella. Imma kontroversja li ħalliet togħma morra ma bosta. Hawn Malta ħadd m’hu jemmen dak li qal Karmenu Vella dwar kif ivvota. X’ser jagħmlu l-Membri Parlamentari Ewropej ma nafx. Naf biss li ħadd m’hu ta’ subgħajh f’ħalqu. Dawk minnhom li jsegwu x’inhu jiġri jafu l-posizzjoni li ħa l-Partit Laburista f’Malta dwar is-sħubija fl-Unjoni Ewropeja. Min minnhom għaldaqstant jifhem x’qiegħed iħarref Karmenu Vella bil-fors li ser ikollu d-dubju dwar it-tweġbiet l-oħra li Karmenu Vella jagħti fuq l-Ambjent, is-Sajd u l-Politika Marittima. Għax il-loġika tgħidlek li jekk ma ssibhiex bi kbira li tħarref fuq ħaġa l-anqas m’int ser issibha bi kbira li tħarref fuq affarijiet oħra.

B’mod oġġettiv, kieku l-kumitati parlamentari tal-Parlament Ewropew kellhom jiddeċiedu fuq il-kompetenzi individwali tal-kummissarji proposti, madwar 6 minn dawk proposti ma jkunux approvati. Imma nafu li l-Parlament Ewropew u l-Kumitati tiegħu ma jaħdmux hekk sakemm ma jkun hemm affarijiet ta’ serjeta’ kbira li jistunaw. Dejjem sakemm ma jkunx hemm xi gaffe bħalma għamel Rocco Buttiglione fl-2004 inkella sakemm il-Kummissarju li jkun qed iwieġeb ma jweġibx b’mod adegwat mistoqsijiet dwar dak li jidher bħala l-konflitt ta’ interess tiegħu jew tagħha kif kien ġrala l-Bulgara Rumiana Jeleva fl-2010.  Sakemm ma jiġrix hekk hu probabbi li l-Kummissjoni tkun approvata kollha kif propost u dan bl-appoġġ tal-Popolari u s-Soċjalisti kif ukoll tal-Liberali.

Pero jekk jinqala’ dak li mhux previst ma tistax tgħid x’jiġri.

Juncker taħt il-lenti tal-Ħodor

four_pillar-sustainable  development

Il-bieraħ Alternattiva Demokratika ippubblikat ittra li Rebecca Harms u Philippe Lamberts mexxejja konġunti tal-Grupp tal-Ħodor fil-Parlament Ewropew bagħtu lil Jean Claude Juncker il-President elett tal-Kummissjoni Ewropeja.

F’din l-ittra li l-oriġinal tagħha jista’ jinqara hawn Harms u Lamberts qed jilmentaw li fit-tqassim tar-responsabbiltajiet lill-Kummissarji l-ġodda Juncker injora l-fatt li t-trattat Ewropew fl-artiklu 3.3 tiegħu ipoġġi bħala mira ċara tal-Unjoni Ewropeja li din taħdem favur l-iżvilupp sostenibbli.

Dan l-obbligu, jemfasizzaw Harms u Lamberts mhux rifless fir-responsabbiltajiet tal-Viċi Presidenti u l-anqas fl-ittri tal-ħatra tal-Kummissarji differenti.

L-emfasi fuq it-tnaqqis tar-regolamentazzjoni flimkien mal-fatt li ingħaqdu flmkien responsabbiltajiet ta’ dawk li sal-lum kienu dikasteri differenti huwa ferm inkwetanti. L-Ambjent ingħaqad mas-Sajd u l-Politika Marittima filwaqt li l-Enerġija u l-Azzjoni dwar it-Tibdil fil-Klima inġabru ukoll fir-responsabbiltajiet ta’ Kummissarju wieħed. Dan kollu flimkien iwassal għat-tħassib fundat li l-importanza għal azzjoni ambjentali ser tkun imdgħajfa filwaqt li l-ħidma dwar l-impatti klimatiċi ser tonqos drastikament.

Dan kollu hu konfermat ukoll miċ-ċaqlieq ta’ numru ta’ responsabbiltajiet li sal-lum kienu meqjusa bħala primarjament responsabbiltajiet ambjentali li issa ġew assenjati f’direttorati ġenerali oħra.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan il-Ħodor ħeġġew lil Jean-Claude Juncker biex jagħmel tibdil fir-responsabbiltajiet tal-Kummissarji u dan billi :

l-ewwel: jassenja r-responsabbilta għall-iżvilupp sostenibbli lil wieħed mill-Viċi Presidenti,

it-tieni: jissepara mill-ġdid ir-responsabbilta għall-klima minn dik għall-enerġija u dik għall-ambjent mis-sajd u l-politika marittima,

it-tielet: jirrevedi l-ittri tal-ħatra ta’ numru ta’ kummissarji ewlenin billi jagħti importanza u prijorita’ lis-sostenibilita kif ukoll lill-użu għaqli tar-riżorsi naturali u lill-bijodiversita,

ir-raba’ jirrevedi ċ–ċaqlieq ta’ responsabbiltajiet li tneħħew mid-Direttorat Ġenerali tal-Ambjent.

Fl-ittra tagħhom Harms u Lamberts jemfasizzaw li huwa obbligu tal-Parlament li jassugura illi l-interessi taċ-ċittadini Ewropej ikunu imħarsa huwa u jsir l-iskrutinju u l-ħatra tal-Kummissjoni. It-tibdil li dwaru l-Ħodor qed jinsistu huwa fl-interess taċ-ċittadini Ewropej u għaldaqstant il-Ħodor jidhrilhom illi jekk dan it-tibdil ma jseħħx huwa impossibli għalihom li jagħtu appoġġ lill-Kummissjoni l-ġdida.

Diġa kien hemm reazzjonijiet għal dan kemm minn Martin Schultz President tal-Parlament Ewropew kif ukoll minn Juncker innifsu.

Schultz irreaġixxa limitatament għall-punt dwar l-iżvilupp sostenibbli. Il-bieraħ stess ENDS Europe irrappurtat lil Schultz hekk : New Commission needs sustainability Vice President.

Schultz jidhirlu li hu żball da parti ta’ Juncker li ħalla barra responsabbilta għall-iżvilupp sostenibbli mir-responsabbiltajiet tal-Viċi Presidenti.

Min-naħa l-oħra Juncker isostni kemm il-ġabra flimkien ta’ responsabbiltajiet tal-ambjent, sajd u politika marittima kif ukoll dawk dwar il-klima u l-enerġija. Min-naħa l-oħra jsostni ukoll li r-responsabbilta’ dwar l-iżvilupp sostenibbli hi tal-Kummissarji kollha.

 

Din hi l-kritika kostruttiva li qed jagħmlu l-Ħodor fil-Parlament Ewropew. Mhiex kritika indirizzat lejn xi pajjiż jew lejn xi Kummissarju partikolari. Dawk qed isiru ukoll minn ħaddieħor u huma motivati minn diversi raġunijiet.

Nistennew u naraw kif ser jiżviluppaw is-seduti pubbliċi li fihom, min-nhar it-Tnejn il-Kummissarji l-ġodda ser ikunu skrutinati dwar il-kompetenzi tagħhom.

Id-diskussjoni tkompli.

The Greens write to Juncker: Sustainability in the New European Commission

EGP.p1

EGP.p2

Its BBQ time

Karmenu Vella + Dom Mintoff

On Monday 29 September at 2.30pm Karmenu Vella, Malta’s nominee to the Juncker led EU Commission will meet with Members of the European Parliament who sit on the Parliamentary Committees dealing with the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs. They will listen to his introductory views on the responsibilities which he has been assigned and subsequently they will ask questions.

For three hours they will listen to his answers after which they will decide whether in their opinion he is suitable for the post to which he has been nominated, that is as EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

The MEPs will be interested to hear Karmenu Vella explain as to how he will go about with the proposed revision and possible consolidation of the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directives which matter he was specifically instructed by Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker to take in hand. These views are especially significant in view of the quasi unconditional support which the Labour Party in Malta gives to hunters and trappers. The European Voice on Monday 22 September paraphrased it very accurately when it stated that: the matter “is particularly sensitive because Malta has been in repeated and continued violation of these laws because of bird hunting.” Will Karmenu Vella, for example, in view of the Labour’s experiences in Malta seek to sanction spring hunting within the rest of the EU? MEPs will undoubtedly be very eager to learn about what possiblies lies ahead if EU Environmental governance is dependent on Karmenu Vella!

In the letter of appointment Jean-Claude Juncker identified 5 clear targets which Karmenu Vella has to attain, namely:

  1. The overhaul of existing environmental legislative framework,
  2. The European Union strategy about the quality of air,
  3. The circular economy and the results achieved to date and in the light of the first reactions of the European Parliament and of the Council of Ministers,
  4. The implementation of the common fisheries policy,
  5. Active participation in international fora on the Oceans within the United Nations and other multilateral and bilateral fora.

MEPs would be very much interested as to what is in store as a result of environmental deregulation. Which legislative instruments will be targeted? How will Karmenu Vella in his role as Commissioner  seek to ensure that the protection which the EU has to date afforded to both man and the eco-system is not dismantled but rather reinforced?

The European Chemicals Agency which deals with the implementation of the REACH Directive has been removed from the Environment portfolio and transferred to the portfolio dealing with Enterprise. This is not a matter which Karmenu Vella has to answer for but it is indicative as to the forces at play on Juncker’s table. The REACH Directive is not considered as an environmental matter by Jean-Claude Juncker. In his opinion it has to be administered primarily in the interests of enterprise, that is of business and industry.

Committees of the European Parliament will by now have digested the experiences of former European Commissioner John Dalli. As a result they would be more than interested about Karmenu Vella’s contacts with the business world, about his thoughts on lobbying as well as what he think’s transparency is all about.

A report published by the Corporate Europe Observatory earlier this month is entitled: Do not bet on the commissioner: the case of Karmenu Vella of Malta.  Since this report emphasises that Karmenu Vella “is not suitable to be a commissioner” the members of the Committees of the European Parliament would undoubtedly wish to hear from Karmenu Vella as to why, in his opinion they should arrive at a different conclusion.

 

published in The Malta Independent : Wednesday 24th September 2014

Squeezing Labour’s balls

squeezing the ball

 

Last week’s hunting related incidents and the reactions of Joseph Muscat’s government is clear indication that Malta’s Labour Party is fed up of being blackmailed by the hunting lobby. It is realising, just eighteen months into this administration’s life that the hunting lobby has been squeezing Labour’s balls for far too long. It seems that Labour has finally found the appropriate time to ensure that the hunting lobby let go.

But will they?

Its much more than the need not to embarrass Commissioner-designate Karmenu Vella in next week’s hearing at the European Parliament. It is in fact the direct result of Juncker’s challenge through the determination of Vella’s portfolio.

Earlier this month the Guardian, in what is most probably the most accurate assessment of Juncker’s strategic thinking, stated that “Juncker is effectively calling the bluffs.”

The Guardian, analysing Juncker’s nominations, has concluded that Jean-Claude is putting a number of national governments on the spot. Specifically referring to the British, French, Hungarian, Greek, German and Dutch designate-Commissioners the Guardian argues that Juncker has strategically placed them in charge of policy areas which their national governments have a problem with.

Even though the Guardian did not refer to Karmenu Vella’s portfolio it is pretty obvious that Vella fits the bill perfectly. Karmenu Vella as Environment Commissioner will have very little room to manoeuvre in order to accommodate Muscat’s hunting and trapping commitments and hence if Muscat opts to continue to defy the EU environmental acquis he will be in for a lot of trouble and embarrassment.  Karmenu Vella will be the reluctant executioner. Joseph Muscat clearly wants to avoid this.

This is Juncker’s gamble as a result of which the squeeze on Labour’s balls may get worse.