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Malta one of the losers in a United States of EuropePrintable Version
Winston Churchill, speaking in Zurich in September 1946, famously said: “We must build a kind of United States of Europe…”, intending Germany and France to be at the centre of this initiative. The UK did not want to be drawn into another European war, and uniting the continental Europeans might just be the way.
Bringing the independent states of Europe to renounce their sovereignty and to merge into a single country has been the softly spoken agenda of the continental European elite for all these decades.
After two world wars in which around 80 million people died, the survivors in Europe were determined to avoid another war. We know that this was the prime motivation behind the plan to create a United States of Europe.
The presumption was that the grouping of problems solves the problems. For example, if Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal had become one country, they would not have needed an EU bailout.
But it just does not work that way, quite the opposite. As understandable as the reaction in favour of integration may have been in post-war Europe, the reality today is hardly that of 70 years ago. Different times need different solutions. Hanging on to this ill-conceived and expired ideal is what is now causing tensions between and within EU Member States.
The presumption that EU Member States need to be unified into one country for Europe to be a trading or political force to be reckoned with, is fallacious and there is no proof to sustain this hypothesis. Neither is there evidence to support the myth that whatever good has happened in Europe in the past decades was the merit of the EU.
The EU has certainly done some good things as it developed but this does not mean these good things, or even better things, would not have happened anyway. By the way, it is NATO, and not the EU, that provides security for Europe.
As for Jean-Claude Juncker’s five scenarios for the future of Europe, well, they are much like a weather forecast, covering all possible outcomes, just in case. Three of the scenarios, namely, ‘Carrying on (as usual)’ and ‘Doing much more together (full integration)’ and ‘Doing less more efficiently (full integration in stages)’ are actually the same scenario. In every one of these cases we end up with the United States of Europe eventually.
Then we have the ‘Nothing but the single market’ scenario. Does this mean that a whole load of EU directives, already enacted into law that go way beyond this scenario, are all going to be repealed?
In any case, the European Single Market is not some closed room with just one door guarded by the likes of Juncker or Donald Tusk, checking membership cards. The whole world trades with the EU, including numerous countries that have no trade agreement with it. The EU deliberately overstates the barriers to the single market.
Finally we have ‘Those who want do more (multispeed Europe)’ scenario. This is the perfect recipe for disaster: creating different rules for different country groupings will multiply the horse trading already rife in Brussels and create fertile ground for abuse.
Surely we must question why we have this very costly European Union at all. Member States have their own parliaments well able to decide on their own country’s needs, or bilaterally or multilaterally with their neighbours.
The publication of these five scenarios for discussion looks to be just an attempt to win back the support of the 40 to 50 per cent of people who, according to polls, think the EU has gone too far.
If this is all the EU has to offer we have reached the end of the road. In reality, the only option on offer is to take it or leave it, namely (a) full integration sooner or later; or (b) exit in an orderly fashion or when the EU implodes.
What does full integration mean for Malta? The decisions that matter to our country, such as security, border control, foreign policy, social policy, trade, taxation, monetary policy, budgets, revenues and spending, would no longer be taken by our local democratically elected representatives as they would only have the power to mediate on our behalf with the European elite.
We have already travelled a long way along the road to integration, and most of these decision-making powers have already been transferred to EU institutions. The relentless EU directives ensure there is now no aspect of our lives that in not, in one way or another, controlled by the EU.
Let us be clear about this. The creation of a United States of Europe will mean the end of Malta as an independent country.
We should not be naive and think that the governance of our islands as part of this new European country would be better than what we have today or had pre-2004.
In a United States of Europe, small Malta would be irrelevant and marginalised. Our precious financial services, gaming and manufacturing industries would be severely restricted as we would no longer be able to differentiate what we can offer. We would not control how much we are taxed in our own land. We would lose what little control we have left.
In this new country there would be few winners and many losers – and Malta, a small country on the periphery, would almost certainly be amongst the losers. Europeans would rule over us again. Our founding fathers must be turning in their graves.
I have one thing to say to those who have lost all faith in our local political system and who think that we would do better governed from mainland Europe: Be careful what you wish for.
As dissatisfied as we may be with our local political scene, it is ours to control. Our democracy works. We have peaceful transitions of power. It is our collective fault if politics in Malta is not what we would like it to be. Every five years we can vote, or not vote, to change it.
Importantly, we need to bring back the right we have lost to vote for Maltese decision makers and not for messengers.
On the other hand, if we are so inexplicably determined to terminate our independence, born only 52 years ago, this should be the result of a conscious decision made by the Maltese people.
The import of such a decision can hardly be overstated. The result is permanent and affects all future generations – it is not one that can be done or undone every five years. Certainly we should not inadvertently find ourselves one day, in the not-too-distant future, robbed of our country by stealth, one EU directive at a time.
Attempting to unite Europe against the will of its nations has always ended in misery and suffering. Repeating this historical mistake will again not end well.
The threat we are facing from mainland Europe is far more serious than all the local political shenanigans that we endure daily.
We all agree that our politics must be transparent and honest and that our representatives should sit around a table and sort this out, once and for all. What we need to do now, however, is to start to think and act as one nation in the face of this common European threat, putting all options on the table.