Has Malta just been given a death sentence, without anyone even noticing?

... I do think, under the circumstances, that it’s high time we at least started asking ourselves a few serious questions: about, say, whether this vision of ‘further European political integration’, actually coincides with the ‘beautiful future’ we were all once promised, in 2004

Clyde Caruana believes the effects of the Russian invasion in Ukraine had changed the European frame of mind
Clyde Caruana believes the effects of the Russian invasion in Ukraine had changed the European frame of mind

It’s been drawn to my attention, over the past few days, that... I’ve been ‘picking on’ Clyde Caruana quite a lot in these articles, haven’t I?

And it’s true, you know. Not, mind you, that ‘picking on’ is the expression I myself would use to describe it. After all, you can only realistically ‘pick on’ someone who is smaller, and weaker, than yourself – hence the saying: ‘Pick on someone your own size!’ - and, um... how can even I put this? He’s the Finance Minister, in case you’ve all forgotten; whereas I’m just... well, ME, at the end of the day. (Though I do admit that it’s kind of flattering, really, that some people out there seem to think I’m the one who’s actually ‘big’ and ‘strong’ enough, to ‘pick on’ the other...)

Nonetheless, it is certainly correct to say that I’ve been ‘singling out’ (there, much better!) Clyde Caruana far more often, in recent months, than any of his other colleagues in the Cabinet of Ministers. This morning, for instance, I went over all the articles I’ve written since the beginning of the year... and it turns out that around ‘one in five’ was either based on – or inspired by; or reacting to to, etc. – ‘something or other’ that the Finance Minister had only just said, or done.

And while that may indeed give rise to the (erroneous) perception that I might harbour some kind of ‘personal grudge’ against Clyde Caruana, himself... I can assure you all that:

a) I actually rather got on with Caruana, on the few occasions we’ve met (including when I interviewed him in October 2021), and;

b) the real reason that I pay so much more attention to the Finance Minister, than to any other member of Robert Abela’s Cabinet – down to, and including, the Prime Minister himself – is that... well, Clyde Caruana just happens to be around the only one of that entire lot (with the possible exception of Energy Minister Miriam Dalli: and oh look, I ‘pick on’ her from time to time, too!) who ever ‘says or does’ anything at all, that is even remotely worth commenting about, in the first place!

Let’s face it, folks: how many articles do you think I can possibly write, about a Prime Minister who keeps telling us all to ‘look forward to a beautiful future’ – or some other, equally mindless platitude - while sailing off towards the Sicilian sunset, in his own, beautiful (and ultra-expensive) ‘superyacht’? Or each time the Environment Minister unveils his latest ‘Green Project’ – usually, the inauguration of a little rooftop garden, somewhere: complete with, at most, a couple of potted plants, here and there – while the rest of country’s environment is repeatedly ‘gang-raped’, and ‘pillaged’, before our very eyes...?

It gets kind of repetitive after a while, you know. There are only so many times you can hear the same old minister, repeating the same old, tired cliche, or empty catch-phrase, that we’ve already been hearing for decades anyway...

And yet, that is all we ever really hear from any of those other ministers, these days. In fact, you could almost define TVM’s daily 8 o’ clock news bulletin as: “an endless litany of ‘which meaningless phrase was uttered’ (or ‘which utterly pointless project was inaugurated’) by which Maltese politician, this time”. Nothing more, nothing less...

Ah, but then someone like Clyde Caruana suddenly pops up, and... ‘Ka-BOOOM!’ You can almost rest assured that he will (very casually, as a rule) drop the equivalent a ‘bombshell’ on us all – if not a freaking ‘nuclear warhead’: as seems to be the latest case – almost each and every time he opens his mouth.

So, um... yeah, actually. What else can I say? Under those circumstances, I find myself keeping a much closer eye on the words and actions of Malta’s current Finance Minister – whose occasional announcements would probably cause ‘panic in the streets’, in almost any other European country - than all those other Cabinet ministers, put together...

Besides: there is another perfectly valid reason for me to pay such close attention to ‘what Clyde Caruana says’, at the moment. It’s not as though a great many people out there are doing the same thing, is it now?

Take last week’s bombshell, for instance. At the risk of repeating my own article last Wednesday: Clyde Caruana has only just announced the introduction of a new, AI-powered ‘tax collection’ system, that sounds – to my own ears, at any rate – like something straight out of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.

In fact, I can almost already hear that ominous (yet strangely soothing) voice of Hal 9000, drifting across the Intercom: “I’m sorry, Dave: but I have just detected a minor anomaly in your tax returns for this year. I’m afraid I will have to instantly freeze all your bank accounts, with immediate effect. Oh, and you yourself will be cancelled from the global banking network, in exactly 1:04.76 seconds: starting from... NOW. Goodbye!” [Fade out, to the tune of ‘Daisy, Daisy’, etc...]

But, well... what was just my own, personal reaction, to what I consider to be yet another step towards Malta’s inevitable transition into a ‘dystopian nightmare’.

How did the rest of Malta react, though, to the news that – as of next year, please note – government will be availing of the latest in ‘high-tech, surveillance software’, to... erm... simply ‘spy on us all’, with total impunity?

I’m afraid I can’t actually that question for you, because – let’s face it – there hasn’t been any reaction at all, has there? Or at least: none that I myself have been able to (even accidentally) stumble upon, in a whole week’s worth of scanning the local news...

By the same token, then: I suspect that Clyde Caruana’s latest earth-shattering revelation, will similarly be ignored [Note: the news only came out this morning]... and I suppose it’s just as well, too: because what the Finance Minister seems to be predicting, this time round, is... not just the ‘end of Malta’, as a we all know it: but the ‘end of Malta’... IN ITS TOTALITY!

And in case you think I’m exaggerating, just a teenie-weenie bit: well... to be honest, perhaps I am. But tell you what: take a look for yourselves, and see what you think.

“[On Friday 19 May] Finance minister Clyde Caruana told Malta’s financial services lobby that European political integration is deepening in the face of the Russian war in Ukraine, with a direct impact on banking and taxation reform which the island must be prepared to align itself with.

“[...] Caruana said the effects of the Russian invasion in Ukraine had changed the European frame of mind, and that it was now seeking further enlargement to secure its borders, as well as to emerge as a global player than can face Chinese supremacy.

“[...] Until recently everyone made it difficult for the EU to get things done... now that attitude has changed radically. By the end of the decade, the Union will have rediscovered its identity and will for further political integration.”

“By 2030 the EU will move to further powers and more harmonisation – it will mean moving away from unanimity on rules, and to further qualified majority voting.”

Now: as usual, I’ve left myself with too little space, to outline exactly WHY these pronouncements add up to (what I consider, anyway) the equivalent of a ‘death sentence’, for the ‘sovereign island nation state, formerly known as The Republic of Malta’. (and with the date of execution already set, too! “By 2030...”)

So for now, all I’ll say is that:

This ‘unanimity principle’ (that Clyde Caruana so casually informs us is soon to be ‘consigned to the dustbin of European history) is actually the only thing that currently protects this tiny country of ours – which, may I remind you all, has the same average population, as a ‘medium-sized town in rural France’ – from what British political philosopher John Stuart Mill once famously defined as ‘The Tyranny of the Majority’ (and which Joseph Heller, in Catch-22, separately defines as Milo Minderbinder’s second ‘law of economics’: ‘You have the right to do unto others, that which they cannot prevent you from doing’...)

So to just remove it from the equation altogether, at the stroke of a pen – as Clyde Caruana himself predicts will happen, inevitably, in just seven years’ time – is also to remove the only measure that prevents this country from being reduced to a mere ‘vassal-state’, of a conglomerate of much larger, more influential countries that – much like Hal 900, in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ – can simply ‘unplug us out of existence’, any time they choose...   

Meanwhile, the same ‘unanimity principle’ is also entrenched in the Accession Treaty that Malta signed, when actually joining the EU in 2004. And as far as I am aware: THAT – or at least, its immediate successor, the Lisbon Treaty – remains the only thing that determines the ‘terms and conditions’ of our contractual obligations, as an EU member state.

The ‘treaties we signed’... and NOT the ‘sporadic amendments to those treaties’, that are currently being discussed - behind our backs – in the European Parliament, or within the Commission, or at ‘Council of Ministers’ level (without, I might add, any corresponding talk of a ‘referendum’, to actually approve those changes, when the time comes).

I could go on, of course: but in a nutshell, what Clyde Caruana is telling us, this time round, is that: by 2030, the EU will have morphed into a single, ‘superpower’ (with military ambitions to rival both China, and Russia, no less)...

... and while I will certainly not be the one to get in the way, of any ‘fight’ that the EU wants to ‘pick’, with either of those two countries (I’m not ‘big’ or ‘strong’ enough for any of that, remember?)...

... I do think, under the circumstances, that it’s high time we at least started asking ourselves a few serious questions: about, say, whether this vision of ‘further European political integration’, actually coincides with the ‘beautiful future’ we were all once promised, in 2004.

Just saying, that’s all...