Oh look: another ‘European Parliament resolution’, for us to ignore…

And if the European Commissioner, no less, can simply ignore the European Parliament at will, without facing any form of consequence … I, for one, fail to see why Malta shouldn’t do exactly the same.

I can’t remember exactly when the idea first came to me – though it was definitely on one of the many, MANY occasions that the European Parliament had only just ‘condemned’ Malta about something or other (anything from our abortion laws; to the Golden Passport Scheme; to the rule-of-law situation; to the ‘you name it, they’ve probably condemned us about that, too’...) – but it doesn’t really matter, because it’s beyond my own capabilities to implement it anyway.

But wouldn’t it be fascinating, if someone were to collect every single one of those ‘damning’ EP resolutions, since we first joined the European Union in 2004… and put them all on display together, in a single exhibition?  (If, that is, you could find an exhibition space large enough to contain them all. Something tells me that not even the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta would suffice: even if we limited ourselves only to ones condemning Malta over ‘female reproductive rights’…)

Not, mind you, that the resulting exhibition would be very exciting to look at, from any artistic perspective. It would consist in just an endless array of ‘framed documents’ – entire hallways crammed with them, from top to bottom - all of which say pretty much the same thing: i.e, that the European Parliament ‘disapproves’ of some aspect or other, concerning how Malta manage its own affairs; and that, as such, it expects us all to simply ‘drop everything, in our mad scramble to immediately comply with all its demands’…

But then again, the purpose of Art – if such a thing even exists at all – is surely not just to ‘dazzle beholders with the sheer beauty of its creations’. If artists like Andy Warhol could create ‘meaning’, out of nothing more remarkable than ‘a can of Campbell’s Soup’… how much more meaningful would it be, to view of all those EP resolutions against the one backdrop that truly matters?

I.e., Superimposed onto the reality we all live in, each and every single day of our lives: and in which we can all see, with our own eyes, that not one of those resolutions has ever had so much as a single, solitary, ‘tangible effect’?

Honestly, though. After 18 whole years of being stolidly ignored, time and time again, by the one Member State they’re always so keen to ‘condemn’… you’d think those 750 MEPs would have ‘gotten the message’, by now.

And yes: that includes the Labour MEPs who are so passionately ‘defending Malta from foreign aggression’, in the umpteenth EP debate that’s going on right now. I mean: why do they even bother, anyway? And why do they get so worked up about it, every single time?

Surely, people like Alfred Sant, Cyrus Engerer and Alex Agius Saliba are all experienced enough to know that this latest EP debate will have just as much impact – no more, no less – than any of the other million-or-so times that the same institution has ‘condemned’ us, in the past.

In fact, one of those three Labour MEPs – Alex Agius Saliba - even said so himself, during the ongoing debate. This, he reminded us, was “the NINTH resolution […] about the rule of law in Malta”, in the space of just five years.

By my count, that means that the European Parliament has issued an average of almost ‘two resolutions a year’, on the same subject, since 2017; and to these, we must also add the (equally regular) condemnations of the notorious ‘Golden Passport Scheme’; which have likewise become more or less a bi-annual event, ever since that scheme was first launched…

… and by an extraordinary coincidence, they’ve also resurfaced in this latest debate, too! (As reported on this portal yesterday: ‘The motion will carry a tour de force on rule-of-law shortcomings in Malta, particularly as to investigations dealing with the 2017 murder [of Daphne Caruana Galizia], but also on the lack of prosecution of political actors in the Muscat administration, […], the shuttered Pilatus Bank, as well as Malta’s golden passport scheme.’)

Now: as it happens, some of us still remember how former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had reacted, when faced with the first of several such ‘Golden Passport condemnations’, back in July 2014.

This is how the Independent had reported it, at the time: “Muscat today likened the citizenship sale issue with that of abortion, saying that just as much as the European Union cannot impose on Malta what to do about abortion, it can neither impose on Malta what to do with its citizenship…”

And that, please note, was just over eight years ago. So not only has the original 2014 European Parliamentary resolution proven to be spectacularly worthless, in the eight whole years it’s been endlessly repeated – but it even had to be re-included in this latest resolution, for good measure! (you know: just to remind us all, that we STILL haven’t ‘complied with its urgent demands’, almost a full decade later…).

At the risk of repeating an earlier question, then: what’s there for those Labour MEPs to even get so upset about? The most that can happen, is that we’ll have yet another ‘framed document’ to add to our collection (and to comfortably spend the next 20 years ignoring, like we did with all the others.)

Ah, but then … at a certain level, I do more or less understand their concern, you know. For even if its resolutions always turn out to be toothless… the EP still prides itself on being a ‘Parliament’, and the end of the day. Presumably, so do all its members (including the three Labour ones I mentioned, above); so even if they know, from experience, that there’s nothing to be really concerned about, in this latest debate… they still feel they have to keep up the pretence, that this European Parliament really is ‘just as the same as a…’

…well… ‘as a REAL Parliament’, I suppose.

And what’s more: all six of Malta’s MEPs come from a country which does, actually, possess a ‘real Parliament’ of its own (some of them, indeed, have been members of both). So they also know that…

But tell you what: let’s try another tack instead. Let us, for argument’s sake, pretend that it was not the ‘European Parliament’ at all, that issued all those resolutions; but Malta’s own House of Representatives instead.

Would any of those issues still be outstanding today – all these years later – had that been the case? Sticking only to abortion, for now: do you reckon Malta would still be maintaining a ‘blanket ban on abortion’, to this very day… had our Parliament approved a measure calling on the government to ‘immediately decriminalise abortion’, 20 years ago?

Now: leaving aside the sheer improbability of such an event actually occurring in Malta (at least, at any time before today)… you don’t exactly need to be a ‘Parliamentary expert’, to work out the answer to that one.

Erm.. no, actually. If a majority the Maltese Parliament ever ordered the government to change its abortion legislation (or any other law, for that matter)… the Maltese government would have no option but to either bow to the Parliament’s authority, and immediately COMPLY… or, at best, precipitate ‘the mother of all Constitutional cases’, by refusing.

But the one thing that any Maltese government could NOT conceivably do, in those circumstances, is… simply ignore that Parliamentary vote, for 20 whole years: without facing any form of consequence whatsoever.

The European parliament, on the other hand? Not only are its resolutions unenforceable among Member States… but they do not seem to have any impact, even on the European Commission itself (in other words, the ‘government’, that this ‘Parliament’ is supposed to be keeping in check.)

Just one example should suffice, for now. Last month, European Commission Ursula von der Leyen visited Baku in Azerbaijan, to sign a gas supply agreement with that country’s ruler, Aliyev… even though the European parliament had only recently ‘condemned’ Aliyev as an ‘autocratic dictator’… and even after EP President Roberta Metsola herself had expressly warned (in May 2022) against “turning to Azerbaijan as an alternative to Russian energy, arguing that the EU shouldn’t ‘depend on autocratic regimes in order to get our energy supply’.”

Now: admittedly, the above doesn’t quite translate into any direct ‘resolution’ against buying gas from Azerbaijan (of the kind that the EP is always so quick to issue, to individual member states)… BUT:

a) it still makes the European Parliament’s intentions VERY clear (a fact which has since been underscored further still, by Metsola’s ‘disappointed’ reaction to the Azeri deal);

b) it raises the separate question of WHY the European parliament has so far stopped short of issuing any such ‘condemnation’, of a European Commission decision that openly (and publicly) defied its own expectations. (After all, it does that sort of thing to us all the time. Why not to Ursula?), and lastly:

c) it once again forces us to ask ourselves what would have happened, had the EP been a REAL Parliament (instead of the ‘fake’ one that it, um, ‘really’ is…)

But it any case: the European Parliament very evidently lacks both the power, and the will, to ever enforce its own ‘resolutions’ on the European Commission (with the result that Ursula Von der Leyen simply ‘laughed all the way to Baku, and back’…)

And if the European Commissioner, no less, can simply ignore the European Parliament at will, without facing any form of consequence … I, for one, fail to see why Malta shouldn’t do exactly the same.