The ugly truth – opportunity from calamity

Policy decisions are easily facilitated and they have developed directives that apply across more than three-dozen countries

British Prime Minister David Cameron has lost a political gamble, he won the last election by promising a referendum about leaving the EU. In failing he screwed his political career, his country, the UK and the EU
British Prime Minister David Cameron has lost a political gamble, he won the last election by promising a referendum about leaving the EU. In failing he screwed his political career, his country, the UK and the EU

This is going to sound very rich coming from me. But everyone, and that includes myself, has scolded the European Union and its regiments of bureaucrats based in the dreary corridors of Brussels for their bureaucracy and gravy train mentality. Those bureaucrats have been branded as problem-makers rather than providers of solutions. They prefer to bury their heads in the sand and run miles of red tape around problems.

But the opposite is in fact true. Those civil servants of different nationalities have proven that the ‘tower of Babylon’ syndrome does not work here and that policy decisions are easily facilitated and they have developed directives that apply across more than three-dozen countries.

Brussels is the place where European Commissioners are surrounded by a plethora of advisers who hail from different countries with differing cultures and social backgrounds and languages. 

These bureaucrats have offered solutions that range from roaming with your mobile telephone on the same tariff structure to travelling with your identity card, or better trading within a fiscal zone under one tax regime. And let us not underestimate this great advantage.

This free trade zone determines what a worker’s rights are across the EU member states, it determines the quality of our water and air, it provides a list of toxic materials in chemicals that is so essential for human health, it safeguards the rights of women and men, the rights of children, it gives us the right to petition at the European Court of Justice, a transparent protocol for public procurement and even tells us whether we can or cannot shoot the Turtle Dove to kingdom come.

More significantly the European Union funding system has changed the face of many European regions, making impoverished areas and certain countries a better place to live in.

What happened in the United Kingdom is a tragedy for the British people. The possibility of a break-off of Scotland from England is a reality, no longer a supposition. The British electorate’s decision will also unleash a set of referenda requests in other European countries, leading to new political tensions and uncertain futures.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has lost a political gamble; he won the last election by promising a referendum about leaving the EU. In failing he screwed his political career, his country, the UK and the EU.

The failure to win the referendum will lead to a domino effect and this will have a lasting effect on Europe and of course Malta.

It will also mean that much of the leverage that the European Union had with countries like Malta might not be what it used to be, in that the EU might want to proceed with further caution and not risk alienating countries from its agenda. In this way, this could actually be bad news for citizens if it allows arrogant politicians to get out better deals for the wrong reasons.  

For example, will our politicians, this government in particular, embrace EU rules that will impact upon certain lobbies that can be crucial towards their election? Will they make more pressure on EU policymakers when it comes to rules that could hinder a party’s electoral chances?

The British decided. They proved beyond doubt that they too can be very parochial, ill-informed, inward-looking and damn stupid. The Leave campaign was led by bigots, dogmatists, racists, individuals who think of the UK as being above the rest, who dream of a world that is not changing or who fear a booming Europe being at par with the UK.

At least we as Maltese do not have the patent for being retards when it comes to voting in referenda. At least on some occasions we have known how to take the right decisions when we needed to.

The Brexit episode comes at a crucial moment in our lives – Erdogan in Turkey, Putin in Russia, absolute anarchy in Libya, mayhem in Syria, Le Pen in France, God forbid Donald Trump as possible President in the US, and possibly Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister.

Put them together and we are truly facing a real worldwide calamity.

And the ugly side to all of this is that in absolute chaos, Malta always tends to be a better world.

Yes, as we did in the Libyan embargo, the civil war in Yugoslavia, the crisis in Greece, and the carnage in the Middle East, Malta somehow soared at the very top above all the rest. With the chaos in the financial markets, Maltese business and business acumen come into play offering a great magnet for financial services and of course individuals who might want to look beyond the City of London powerhouse and search for a European market.

This little country, with all its defects, knows exactly how to milk a hopeless situation. And if ever there was one, this is it. It is time to act fast, it is the time for the PM to get his best brains together to work ways to take advantage of this misfortune, for the good of our country and its future.

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Reading through today’s MaltaToday survey there is an interesting point highlighted, and it reads like this: “Curiously, the survey shows that the Labour party enjoys a one-point advantage over the PN with regard to being trusted on environmental issues, despite the concerted attempt by the PN to strengthen its green credentials. The difference falls within the survey’s margin of error but suggests that the party has not capitalised sufficiently on the government’s shortcomings on green issues.”

It is true, but perhaps another observation should be that the PN cannot quite live up to its green credentials, and people know it. 

People, it appears, do not have such short memories. Apart from the fact that faces have not changed, it cannot be forgotten that when it comes to environmental records, there is nothing rosy about the past. 

Malta’s development zones were formed and extended before 2013 and changed to suit the needs of the lobbies that wined and dined with political cronies and more importantly, the word ODZ and the abuse of ODZ was created in the past, not now. That today the construction industry has a carte blanche is not far from the truth, but it had the same in 1994 and 2006.

Which is why most people trust older perhaps insignificant political parties on green issues rather than the mainstream parties. The problem is how to put environment high on the agenda.

It is going to be very difficult, especially when the main opponents in this debacle are the very influential economic forces. When compelled to make choices between money-makers and environmental standards the even more idealistic of contenders opt for the first one.

Environmentalists must start perfecting the art of environmentalism. A strong dose of psychology is needed to start demonstrating that environmentalism is not a loony passion but one that aims for quality of life and a high standard of living: a ‘luxe’ way of living.

We need to spice up the green message, to make it sexy. One needs to understand that if people are going to associate themselves with being on the side of green standards they need to be seen as normal people with a taste for quality.

That is of course far easier said than realised.

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