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.

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Subsidiarity and loyalty

malta passport

The Prime Minister has a generational transformation in sight which he wants to bankroll with the monies generated by his sale of citizenship scheme. His supporters see traitors everywhere as they cannot stomach any form of criticism.

Does any EU member state have the right to introduce and implement a sale of citizenship scheme?  Government spokesmen have repeatedly stated that the Malta Government has been advised that it is in line with EU legislation. In line with the subsidiarity principle, nationality issues, we were told, are the sole and exclusive competence of EU member states.

No one is contesting that nationality issues are a national competence. In fact even Commissioner Viviene Reding made this amply clear. There is however much more to it than state competence. There is the duty to be loyal to the Union and other member states. Article 4.3 of the European Union Treaty explains this as the principle of sincere cooperation, also referred to as the loyalty principle: loyalty, that is, towards the other European Union member states.

Government has opted to milk citizenship in order to generate finance so as to be in a position to implement its electoral programme. It has excluded taxation as an option. Moreover it has reduced income tax as part of its electoral strategy in order to outwit the former government, knowing full well that this necessitated alternative financial avenues. Never did it place its plans to put citizenship on sale before the electorate for its consideration. Ethically the Labour Party cannot claim to have an electoral mandate on the matter.

The local political debate has revealed diametrically opposed positions. Government’s position is dictated by its strategy of requiring cash in order to finance its political initiatives. Time is of essence in its strategy. It cannot afford to wait for would-be investors to take initiatives of their choice. There is no direct link between the prospective citizen and the manner in which the monies he pays are “invested”. It is in fact an exercise of selling citizenship with a commitment to use the proceeds in a specific manner. The funds generated are hypothecated. A residential criterion has so far been ruled out, most probably,  as this would only serve as a delaying factor. It would delay the flow of the monies required depending on how long the residential criterion runs.

The warning shot fired by the EU Parliament is not to be discarded as the EU Parliament is the only democratically elected EU institution. Nor is Commissioner Reding’s statement  one that could be ignored. Reding has stated that:

While I am not calling for the Commission to receive legal power to determine what constitutes nationality or the rules granting it, the Commission nevertheless expects that Member States act in full awareness of the consequences of their decisions.

Our debate today shows the growing importance of these questions in a European Union where national decisions are in many instances not neutral vis-à-vis other Member States and the EU as a whole. It is a fact that the principle of sincere cooperation, which is inscribed in the EU Treaties (Article 4.3 of the Treaty on European Union), should lead Member States to take account of the impact of decisions in the field of nationality on other Member States and the Union as a whole.”

Clearly the competence of member states on issues of citizenship is not absolute. Given its impacts on all the other members of the Union in areas of national security, freedom of movement in the Schengen Area, rights to residence and employment, it stands to reason that both the EU as well as member states require consultation which apparently was not carried out.

The capping of the citizenship scheme at 1,800 passports for sale is certainly not enough. A residential condition of reasonable length is also  required as an additional and essential element. This would however be a sticking point as whilst it could render the proposed scheme less un-acceptable and in line with some of the practices elsewhere, it may fail to deliver what the Maltese Government requires on time.

It is with this in mind that the Greens in Malta have time and again called on Government to suspend the implementation of the scheme and concurrently to initiate a dialogue with Brussels. The problem at an EU level may eventually be resolved around the negotiating table. This would result in less reputational damage for Malta. A meeting called between the EU Commision and the Malta Government seems to be imminent. Hopefully matters will take a positive turn.

That would leave the political issue to be solved locally, either in Parliament or at the ballot box through a public consultation. The Prime Minister has already indicated that he is willing to submit the issue to a national consultation.  It is the decent way forward, part of our learning curve as a nation.

published in The Times of Malta, Saturday January 25, 2014

L-iskema taċ-Ċittadinanza ta’ Joseph Muscat: il-kobba tkompli titħabbel

Malta+EU

Il-kobba tal-iskema tal-bejgħ taċ-ċittadinanza qed tkompli titħabbel.

Il-Gvern iddeċieda. Ikkonsulta ruħu, prinċipalment wara li kien ġja ħa d-deċiżjonijiet.

Il-ħsieb li għandu l-Gvern hu wieħed ċar ħafna. Għandu bżonn il-flus biex jiffinanzja il-programm politiku tiegħu. Wara li rabat idejh li ma jżidx taxxi, kif ukoll wara li daħal fi sqaq billi naqqas it-taxxa tad-dħul meta l-pajjiż ma kienx ippreparat għal dan, ma kienx baqa’ wisq fejn idur. Iddeċieda li s-sors tal-finanzjament meħtieġ ser ikun id-dħul mill-bejgħ ta’ madwar 1,800 passaport. Dħul li hu ikkalkulat li jammonta għal madwar €1.20 biljun.

L-argumenti politiċi f’Malta instemgħu għal darba, tnejn u iktar. Kulħadd qal tiegħu, iżda l-Gvern wara li bidel xi dettalji tal-iskema, jidhirlu li għandu jibqa’ għaddej.

Mhux ċar jekk dan il-ħsieb dwar il-bejgħ taċ-ċittadinanza żviluppax mill-elezzjoni lil hawn jew inkella jekk ġiex ikkristalllizzat qabel l-elezzjoni ġenerali. Saru kitbiet diġa f’dan is-sens u hemm min spekula li l-pjan sar qabel l-elezzjoni, iżda nżamm mistur. Qed tiċċirkula l-ideja li l-Partit Laburista (u per konsegwenza l-Gvern iffurmat minnu) qiesu obbligat li jimplimenta din l-iskema. Qiesu jrid jonora xi ftehim milħuq. S’issa dan għadu mhux ċar għax ovvjament ħadd m’hu ser jikxef x’ġara, għalmenu għalissa.

Issa bdiet tiżviluppa fażi oħra tal-istorja. Il-mistoqsija hi dwar jekk il-Gvern Malti (u kwlaunkwe Gvern ieħor fl-Unjoni Ewropeja) għandux id-dritt assolut li jiddeċiedi dwar iċ-ċittadinanza. Minn dak li qalet il-Kummissarju Viviane Reding nhar il-Ħamis hi u tiftaħ id-dibattitu fil-Parlament Ewropew l-Unjoni Ewropeja hi tal-fehma li d-dritt li tkun irregolata ċ-ċittadinanza m’huwiex dritt assolut tal-istati membri. Reding qalet hekk:

While I am not calling for the Commission to receive legal power to determine what constitutes nationality or the rules granting it, the Commission nevertheless expects that Member States act in full awareness of the consequences of their decisions.

Our debate today shows the growing importance of these questions in a European Union where national decisions are in many instances not neutral vis-à-vis other Member States and the EU as a whole. It is a fact that the principle of sincere cooperation, which is inscribed in the EU Treaties (Article 4.3 of the Treaty on European Union), should lead Member States to take account of the impact of decisions in the field of nationality on other Member States and the Union as a whole.”

Fi ftit kliem il-Kummissarju Reding qed tgħid li f’dak li nagħmlu bħala pajjiż irridu ta’ bil-fors nagħtu każ tal-impatti fuq il-pajjiżi l-oħra membri tal-Unjoni. Hi tirreferi għall-artiklu 4.3 tat-trattat dwar l-Unjoni u speċifikament dwar il-prinċipju ta’ kooperazzjoni sinċiera, xi drabi imsejjaħ ukoll il-prinċipju ta’ lejalta’. Dan kollu jfisser ħaġa waħda biss: li għandna d-dritt li niddeċiedu kif irridu sakemm ma neffettwaw lil ħadd. Jekk id-deċiżjoni tagħna bħala pajjiż teffettwa lil ħaddieħor għandna l-obbligu li nikkonsultaw. Iktar ma hu kbir l-impatt iktar irridu nikkonsultaw u allura iktar hu diffiċli li nikkonkludu kif irridu.

Iktar ċari minn hekk l-affarijiet ma jistgħux ikunu!

Issa hawn min qed isemmi skemi f’pajjiżi oħra li jixxiebħu mal-iskema tal-Gvern Malti. Euroactiv.com   iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa jirreferi għal dokument iċċirkulat fi Strasbourg mill-Gvern Malti li fih jirreferi għal skemi f’pajjiżi oħra dwar ċittadinanza : “Cyprus, Austria, Belgium and Portugal singled out” jgħidilna l-Euroactiv.com. L-iskemi l-oħra huma differenti, ghax prinċipalment huma ibbażati fuq residenza flimkien ma investiment sostanzjali. Tnejn mill-pajjiżi imsemmija (Ċipru u l-Portugall) għandhom ukoll problemi finanzjarji kbar.

S’issa jidher li l-Unjoni Ewropeja ma ikkummentatx dwar dan kollu imma jidher li issa ser tieħu passi. Il-każ ta’ Malta hu l-iktar sfaċċat imma l-każi l-oħra jixxiebħu u probabbilment li l-Unjoni  tikkummenta dwarhom ukoll.

Dan hu l-pass li jmiss. Minn kif tkellmet il-Kummissarju Reding jidher li d-diskusjsoni interna saret u l-ideat huma ċari. Ħames xhur oħra tiġi fi tmiemha l-ħajja tal-Kummissjuni preżenti u allura nistenna li fil-ġimgħat li ġejjin (ferm qabel ma jinbiegħ l-ewwel passaport),  inkunu nafu x’ser tagħmel il-Kummissjoni.

Il-Gvern jidher li ma kienx ippreparat għal dak li ġej. Kuntrarjament għal dak li qed jingħad il-vot tal-Parlament Ewropew għandu sinfikat kbir. Mhux biss huwa dikjarazzjoni politika qawwja. Imma jiftaħ għajnejn Muscat li l-unika appoġġ li għandu huwa ta’ politiċi bħal Marine Le Pen!

Le Pen

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

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!