‘Rhetoric of Mediterranean mass graveyard has become empty words’ | Miriam Dalli

Ask the MEP • Labour MEP Miriam Dalli says rhetoric of the Mediterranean ‘hosting’ a mass graveyard is becoming empty words: ‘Useless for us to continue speaking without taking any action’

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
25 January 2017, 9:45am
Labour MEP Miriam Dalli
Labour MEP Miriam Dalli
How has the Panama Papers impacted Malta’s defence of its taxation system? Can Malta withstand the European Commission’s plans for a common corporate tax base?

Panama wasn’t nice, and I admit that Malta would have been better off without it, although the PN MEPs are inflating the issue because it helps them back home.

Ultimately, though, the Prime Minister took a decision on Konrad Mizzi, as was his prerogative.

All in all, I want Malta to start taking transparency and accountability far more seriously, and I’m referring to politicians from both parties – including Tonio Fenech and Beppe Fenech Adami. Without trying to minimize the Panama issue, there are far more pressing issues right now – such as Brexit and Trump’s recent comments about the EU crumbling.

Malta will do its utmost to preserve its taxation system and retain its competitiveness. After all, the same system was rigorously examined and approved by the same European Commission prior to Malta’s EU accession.

'PN MEPs are inflating the issue because it helps them back home'
'PN MEPs are inflating the issue because it helps them back home'
How realistic is Joseph Muscat’s plan for the EU and the Libyan navy to conduct joint patrols in the Mediterranean to repatriate asylum seekers intercepted outside Libyan territorial waters?

'The rhetoric of how the Mediterranean has become a cemetery has been repeated so often that it’s become empty words'
'The rhetoric of how the Mediterranean has become a cemetery has been repeated so often that it’s become empty words'
The deal certainly won’t be easy to implement because of the instability in Libya, but Muscat’s rationale was that he wanted member states to reach a solution from now before the migration influx from Libya starts in spring.

We tend to speak a lot about migration in the summer months when the flows arrive, but then put it on the backburner in the winter.

What he’s after is a two-pronged approach – to combat illegal human smuggling and to offer safe passage to asylum seekers. I agree with it – it’s a step towards a Mediterranean solution to stop people drowning in the sea.

The rhetoric of how the Mediterranean has become a cemetery has been repeated so often that it’s become empty words – it’s useless for us to continue speaking without taking any action. The European Parliament, for good or ill, has presented many proposals for solutions, but these have fallen flat in the face of pressure and resistance from certain member states

The Prime Minister’s proposal is not a silver bullet, but we must certainly consider it and see if it will work as a first step.

However, any solution must also keep in mind the humanitarian aspect of the problem – migrants in Greek refugee camps are living in freezing conditions, and I heard of a case where a Syrian refugee at a Greek camp was given a mere one-hour window in which he could register himself as an asylum seeker through a Skype call.

Do you agree with providing legal channels for refugees to claim asylum?

'We must ensure that only legitimate asylum seekers enter Europe'
'We must ensure that only legitimate asylum seekers enter Europe'
If we truly want to stop people dying in the Mediterranean and in the booths of trucks as they cross into Europe, then we must ensure that only legitimate asylum seekers enter Europe. We must prioritise the people whose lives are endangers and differentiate them from economic migrants.

We must also start discussing migration from a human resources perspective. Europe has a low birth rate and an ageing population and some jobs cannot find enough workers – the solution could definitely be linked to migration.

Do you agree with the accession of Turkey to the EU under the present circumstances prevailing in the country under Erdogan?

The basic problem of Turkey is that it cannot be part of the EU, while at the same time toss journalists and opposition politicians into prison with no respect for their human rights. Until that is remedied, they cannot be seriously considered as candidates for EU membership.

How concerned are you about Russia’s meddling in European and American politics? Should the EU loosen its sanctions on Russia if Trump goes down that route?

The EU must decide what kind of position it wants to adopt vis-à-vis Russia. The problem is that the European Parliament often adopts resolutions with harsh language against Russia, but then the action stops there.

All that serves to do is alienate Russia.

If possible, the EU should sit down with Russia to discuss means of improving diplomatic relations.

As for the EU project, we must keep in mind that its goal was not only free trade but also peace between European countries. While the EU is often criticised for being too bureaucratic, it has made European countries look at each other as friends and not as security problems.

Now that far-right parties are rising across Europe, that is an aspect of the EU that we should start talking about more vociferously…

Should euthanasia be introduced in Malta?

A debate on whether euthanasia should be legalised shouldn’t be a no-go
A debate on whether euthanasia should be legalised shouldn’t be a no-go
In principle I’m against euthanasia, but I don’t want to impose my opinion on others. I recently spoke to people who gave me their points of view, including one person whose relative’s health is gradually degenerating and is now starting to lose his mental capacities.

A debate on whether euthanasia should be legalised shouldn’t be a no-go, but sometimes in Malta, even proposing a debate on certain topics comes off as shocking. If we had to debate euthanasia, it would help us understand people’s points of view so that we could ultimately reach an informed decision, instead of making decisions in a vacuum.

Even on abortion, people are already discussing and debating it on social media and don’t need politicians to tell them what they can and cannot discuss. I’m all for people reaching conclusions based on listening to debates, arguments and counter-arguments.