Labour candidate on EPP’s Germans: ‘You can feel the 1930s nostalgia when they speak’

Labour candidate Clint Flores says EPP’s German members’ calls for defence spending  ‘akin to what was being pushed for in the 1930s in Germany, before the WWII’

Clint Azzopardi Flores
Clint Azzopardi Flores

Labour candidate for Europe Clint Flores has accused the European People’s Party of pushing a belligerent narrative for war that was akin to the rearmament policy of Nazi Germany.

Flores, an economist who served Malta in Brussels at its permanent representation to the EU, accused EPP lead candidate Ursula von der Leyen of having endangered European diplomacy by endorsing her party’s call for increased defence spending.

“The Germans must be kept down. We do not afford to have them armed to their teeth. You can feel the 1930s nostalgia when they speak,” Flores wrote in an opinion piece before reiterating his stand against the nuclear deterrent on the Radju Malta progamme Vi Jew Va.

“It is chilling. Someone has to give Ursula von der Leyen, David McAllister, and Manfred Weber, all Germans and EPP members, a reality check. Now, how about the Leader of the Opposition? Does he agree to create a nuclear umbrella or whatever it is being called?” Flores wrote in the Malta Business Weekly.

The European Commission has unveiled a new defence industrial strategy, designed to ramp up EU production and procurement of arms, but the EPP’s manifesto is pledging a new European Commissioner for security and defence, and a dedicated EU defence pot of money.

Flores said the EPP’s demand for a new “arms race”, endorsed by Von der Leyen as its lead candidate, was “akin to what was being pushed for in the 1930s in Germany, before the Second World War… in the end, Germans benefitted from Marshall Aid after WWII. Malta did not benefit anything. Au contraire, the Germans, along with their Axis supporters, showered Malta with bombs.”

On Radju Malta, Flores defended Robert Abela’s vote in favour of the EU’s €50 billion Ukraine facility, which is not there for the financing of lethal weaponry, hitting back at criticism from European Parliament president Roberta Metsola that Malta was talking a different game at home than what it actually says in Brussels. “If you read the Council Conclusions, it specifically states that ‘military support and security commitments will be provided in full respect of the security and defence policy of certain member states and taking into account the security and defence interests of all member states’,” Flores said on Radju Malta.

“Malta can constructively abstain in Council on contributions to security and defence by ensuring its money does not go for lethal equipment but to other areas, such as logistics or medical hubs. Which means we are still respecting our Constitutional neutrality. Proudly, it was me who negotiated that under the European Peace Facility, and which funds come out of bilateral contributions, outside the EU Budget, and not part of the EU’s Own Resources System.”

The Labour candidate argued that the Lisbon Treaty did not allow Europe to arm itself for lethal purposes, attacking the EPP’s call for greater defence spending through bilateral, rather than a common European contribution.

“These have to be forked out of the public coffers, obviously European taxpayers’ money,” Flores said, questioning how this would be possible for EU member states without breaching their deficit limits.

“From where is nuclear deterrent going to be financed? How can each EU member states find the equivalent of 3% of GDP in defence spending – that is the totality of the cash needed by all states to equate the finance supplied by the United States to NATO – be achieved without breaching deficit rules in Europe? Which budgetary cuts are we going to tolerate?”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

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