EU army coming through the back door, Alfred Sant warns

Brussels establishment believes military dimension could foster a sense of unity in the EU at a time of division, Labour MEP and former prime minister says

Labour MEP Alfred Sant
Labour MEP Alfred Sant

The drive to develop an EU army is coming under the guise of a defence and security policy that could eventually threaten Malta’s neutrality, Labour MEP Alfred Sant said.

The former prime minister was speaking during an informal chat with the MaltaToday and Illum newsrooms last week.

The Labour MEP said the Brussels establishment believe the military and security dimension could foster a sense of unity in the EU at a time of division.

“But they are trying to do this through the back door by emphasising terms like security, which overlaps with migration and terrorism, things that are of great interest to countries like Malta,” Sant said.

The Labour MEP said while cooperation on security matters was desirable the lines could be blurred.

He noted that opposition to the development of an EU army was coming from various quarters, not least the German social democrats, who are “dragging their feet” on the matter.

There have been recent calls by French President Emanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker for the creation of an EU army.

These calls have intensified since the election of President Donald Trump, who has signalled that the US would no longer spring to Europe’s defence.

Britain has opposed the creation of an EU army, fearing that it would undermine NATO.

But Sant also believes that the drive to create an EU army is hampered by the lack of a military doctrine.

“The efforts are disparate and built on the contingent wishes of individual member states,” Sant said.

Asked whether these efforts could impact Malta’s neutrality, Sant said he had no doubt this could be the case further down the line.

During the hour-long chat, Sant expressed regret that the Socialists and Democrats had not taken up a proposal he pushed to propose a Europe-wide increase in the minimum wage for the forthcoming European Parliament election.

“It is now being done piecemeal with Macron being forced to promise it in France and the Spanish prime minister also suggesting it for next year,” Sant said.

The MEP, who will be contesting for a second term in the European Parliament, said the European drive to curb on tax avoidance and evasion was commendable and a reaction to popular discontent over austerity.

However, this, he added was also being used to push for tax harmonisation across the EU, which would be detrimental to Malta’s financial services industry.

“While we cannot say no to measures to combat tax avoidance and evasion, I can’t accept tax harmonisation because that will wipe out the financial services sector in Malta and would put at a disadvantage economies that are on the periphery of Europe,” Sant said.

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