Sant warns against EU federalism: ‘Small member states’ voice will be silenced’

Former prime minister and Labour MEP says Malta faces major dilemma with greater EU control

Alfred Sant (right) was interviewed by Manuel Micallef
Alfred Sant (right) was interviewed by Manuel Micallef

Labour MEP and former prime minister Alfred Sant has warned against the growing influence of EU controls and the weakening of small states’ sovereignty.

Hosting a conference for constituents on ‘the future of Europe’, Sant said Malta faced a major dilemma alongside small states like Cyprus, Ireland and Demark in maintaining sovereignty on issues like tax evasion and national security.

“A strong Europe is in everyone’s interests, but a federal Europe will silence the voice of these small member states, including Malta,” Sant told a large audience in Qawra.

Sant said the recent threats of terrorism across Europe called for the strengthening of existing structures within the Schengen zone.

“Controls across Schengen areas, which previously did not exist, have already been introduced. One proposal now includes a similar structure to that of the FBI in the United States to ensure that terrorists do not abuse the Schengen area. It’s in Malta’s interests that Schengen is protected so that it is easier for tourists to reach Malta.”

Sant also said the European Commission was strengthening its arguments in favour of tax harmonisation across all EU member states.

“It’s in the interests of member states like Malta to maintain their sovereignty over taxation. What’s good for large countries like Germany and France is not necessarily in the interests of the member states on the periphery of Europe. One-size-fits all policies is unfair on matters of taxation for these small countries.”

He also warned against the rise of precarious work in a society that is seeing falling unemployment, but is concerned about immigration, terrorism, and is responding with populist choices at the polls.

“Divergences between different regions in Europe are widening further. These divergences must be addressed because in certain regions, including in East Germany, generations of young people are feeling emarginated.”

On foreign policy, Sant said Malta had to watch out for the effects of Brexit on UK investments in Malta, students studying in the UK and on Maltese and Gozitan pensioners’ investments. He added that even Donald Trump’s policy towards Europe, Libyan instability, migration, Russian influence and Turkish relations were crucial issues. “All these factors will influence and determine the future of Europe,” Sant said.

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