Sociologist, Local Councillor, Politician from Malta
MEP Candidate - Partit Nazzjonalista (EPP).

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

New Publication: Bird Hunting in European Malta: A Case of ENGO Empowerment?

Dr Michael Briguglio’s paper entitled ‘ Bird Hunting in European Malta: A Case of ENGO Empowerment?’ has been published in the international academic publication: Liam Leonard, Sya Buryn Kedzior (ed.) Occupy the Earth: Global Environmental Movements (Emerald Group Publishing)

Abstract

This chapter analyses the politics of bird hunting in relation to the empowerment of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) in the European Union (EU), with specific reference to Malta’s first years of EU accession.

In particular, the analysis focuses on the activism of Maltese and International ENGOs – with special focus on Birdlife Malta and Birdlife International – on this issue, which is characterized by extensive EU legislation and by constant lobbying.

This chapter argues that ENGOs, both Maltese and European, were influential on State power in Malta, especially by resorting to the EU, and also being given prominence by the media. Yet the hunting lobby was influential too, and its influence on Malta’s main political parties is an overdetermining factor, which remained in place even after EU accession.

This chapter concludes that despite Malta’s EU accession, national political factors remain highly influential in the Maltese hunting issue, and that one can expect more antagonism in the years to come.

Reference: Michael Briguglio (2014), Bird Hunting in European Malta: A Case of ENGO Empowerment?, in Liam Leonard , Sya Buryn Kedzior (ed.) Occupy the Earth: Global Environmental Movements (Advances in Sustainability and Environmental Justice, Volume 15) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.295 - 324

Keywords: Malta, environmental NGOs, bird hunting, EU, social movements, discourse theory

Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/S2051-503020140000015012
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/book/10.1108/S2051-5030201415


Full list of Michael Briguglio's academic publications:
http://malta.academia.edu/MichaelBriguglio

www.michaelbriguglio.com

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The construction of party identity

Party tradition and history are important factors in relation to its identity. But they are not the only overdetermining factors. Leadership characteristics, possibility of new articulatory practices, international affiliations, alliances, political opportunity strutctures, etc are other overdetermining factors which can result in identity construction.

Hence, for example, one can ask: Is the Labour Party of today a continuation of the past, a shift, etc? Whatever the case, it is surely a construction of a plurality of discourses (which at times are contradictory). Similarly, there is no a priori rule which says that other parties cannot conduct their own articulatory practices.

I believe that this is how one should discuss matters relating to Political party identity - such as Mario De Marco's statement that the Nationalist Party today is to the left of the Labour Party.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Citizen or the Consumer?

When one takes stock of the social and political challenges which Malta is currently facing, three important categories should be given the importance they deserve: social justice, sustainability and democracy.

It has become clear that civil rights and liberties are being mainstreamed in social policy. Social changes and effective political campaigning helped articulate the discourse.

As welcome as this progressive step forward is, it should not result in a wrong impression that now everyone is equal. Though Malta is one of the least unequal societies in the EU, inequalities keep persisting in various fields, including social class, poverty and social exclusion. Precarious employment is the latest manifestation in this regard.

This shows us that individualization has many faces – from opportunities, such as those being enjoyed by LGBT persons given Malta’s policy changes, to constraints, such as those faced by precarious workers.

In an individualised society we have no choice but to make choices, but policy making can help us be more autonomous in the construction of our biographies.

Maltese social policy is moving towards more active measures, but at the same time it is articulating a discourse against welfare dependency. On the one hand, people are being encouraged to be better equipped to face the risks and opportunities of our times, yet on the other hand it seems that the poor are being blamed for their situation.

In such a context one should keep in mind that universal welfare – such as health and education, as well as the recent expansion of childcare services – often protect many families from poverty and social exclusion.

Let us not feed ourselves the illusion that ‘new’ welfare schemes, such as third pillar pensions, are going to give us more social justice. If anything, such voluntary pension schemes can only further increase inequality, this time between those who can afford such a scheme and those who can’t.

A more socially just system would have introduced a compulsory second pillar with the State making up for those who cannot afford to participate

A welfare state which moves towards conditional welfare can weaken such institutionalized solidarity and thus increase inequality.
Indeed, Malta’s hybrid social model has so far served well in the avoidance of social and economic difficulties which are being experienced elsewhere in southern Europe.

Social justice requires sustainable finance, which, in turn can help fuel a more sustainable economy. Regressive fiscal measures and unsustainable expenditure can put this in danger.

At the same time, a sustainable economy requires ecological sustainability.

Malta is currently experiencing global ecological challenges such as climate change which can have devastating impacts unless policies are implemented to manage such risks in a sustainable way.

At a local level, Malta has its fair share of ecological challenges. For example, transport policies which favour cars over pedestrians, bicycles and public transport vehicles, result in gridlock and increased pollution. Besides, Malta keeps permitting troglodyte vehicles, especially in the construction sector, which emit unacceptable levels of fumes.

Public land keeps being treated as an unlimited resource ripe for commodification, whilst water consumption and waste management are being sidelined from the prioritisation they require.

Malta’s current energy debate is sideling key considerations. For example, are cheaper utility bills necessarily sustainable in terms of public finance and consumption?

A general lack of transparency, and vague talk on related issues such as energy hubs and renewables are not helping matters.
Paradoxically, such ecological issues can serve as opportunities in the transition towards a green economy, creating job opportunities and enhancing sustainability.

A major challenge for policy makers in this regard is whether we are consumers or citizens, as highlighted by social policy theorist Michael Cahill.

Consumers require instant gratification in an unlimited quest for more, whilst citizens have both rights and responsibilities. Policy-making which appeals to the former might win votes, yet how sustainable is it?

I do not believe that politics should necessarily be based on a hyper-real quest for endless consumption. Not only because this could ultimately implode, but also because there is no such thing as one monolithic ideology. A politics without adversaries means that we are all absorbed within a monologue.

On the contrary, in a democracy, there is always the possibility of different political discourses.

Diversity and antagonism strengthen the democratic imagery. Here, one may borrow the term ‘agonism’ from political theorist Chantal Mouffe – where the adversary is seen as an opponent with whom one shares a common allegiance to democratic principles, in a spirit of mutual respect.

Political parties are essential actors in such a context, but they are not the only players. NGOs and the media have a key role in sensitising society on various issues and in bringing about social change.

Parties and other civil society actors can work in a spirit of dialogue, forming alliances and coalitions, and respecting adversaries who have different views.

Such alliances proved successful in Malta’s EU and divorce referenda campaigns. Likewise, they can prove successful in other areas.
In such a context, I think that Maltese society should reflect on the possibility of politics which gives primacy to the citizen rather than the consumer.

This article appears in The Times, 18th November 2014: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20141118/opinion/Citizen-or-the-consumer-.544572

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sfidi Socjali u Politici f’Malta

Diskors li ghamilt fil-Konvenzjoni tal-Partit Nazzjonalista, fuq stedina tal-Partit, fil-25 ta' Ottubru 2014

Introduzzjoni

Hemm hafna xi tghid dwar sfidi socjali u politici Maltin fis-snin li gejjin. F’dan il-hin qasir ser nitkellem dwar uhud mill-isfidi li nara, u ser naqsamhom f’tliet kategoriji: Il-Gustizzja Socjali; Is-Sostenibilita’ u d-Demokrazija.

Il-Gustizzja Socjali

Id-drittijiet u liberatijiet civili saru parti mid-diskors dominanti fil-politika Maltija, u ziedu l-awtonomija f’diversi oqsma tal-hajja.

Izda m’ghandniex nilludu ruhna li issa kulhadd sar ugwali. Hemm diversi forom ta’ inugwaljanza, per ezempju fuq bazi ta’ klassi socjali, faqar u eskluzjoni socjali.

Fil-prezent, il-politika socjali Maltija qed taddotta ‘active measures’, jigifieri mizuri li permezz taghhom l-individwu ikun armat ahjar biex jaffacja d-dinja tax-xoghol u fejn jigi nkuraggit jinvesti biex itejjeb is-sitwazzjoni socjali tieghu.

Fl-istess hin qed isir diskors negattiv dwar ‘dipendenza socjali’, fejn donnhom in-nies foqra ghandhom x’jahtu tas-sitwazzjoni taghhom.

F’dan il-kuntest irridu nzommu f’mohhna li l-welfare universali – bhas-servizzi ta’ sahha u edukazzjoni, u bhall-espansjoni ricenti tac-childcare - hafna drabi jipprotegi lill-bosta familji mill-faqar u eskluzzjoni socjali. Jekk dan jidghajjef, jistghu jikbru l-inugwaljanzi socjali.

F’dawn l-ahhar snin il-mudell socjali Malti – li hu nfluenzat minn tahlita ta’ mudelli socjali differenti fl-Ewropa - serva tajjeb bhala tarka ghal bosta nies, f’kuntest fejn il-krizi ekonomika kellha impatti devastanti fuq socjetajiet ohra fin-Nofs in-nhar ta’ l-Ewropa.

Hawnhekk irrid nirrimarka li sistemi ta’ penzjoni volontarji u ddominati mis-settur privat ma jawgurarx tajjeb, ghax jistghu izidu l-inugwaljanzi fit-tielet eta’ permezz ta’ skemi rigressivi, fejn min ihallas l-iktar, ikollu penzjoni iktar gholja, u min ma jiflahx ihallas, jibqa’ lura.

Sostenibilita’

Politika socjali universalista’ tistrieh fuq finanzi sostenibbli u tista’ twassal ghal ekonomija iktar stabbli. Politika fiskali rigressiva u instostenibbli tista’ tipperikola dan kollu.

Bl-istess mod, ekonomija b’sahhitha tistrieh fuq sostenibilita’ ekologika.

Fl-assenza ta’ kwalita’ ambjentali, ta’ arja nadifa, spazji liberi u kampanja f’sahhitha, tonqos il-kwalita’ tal-hajja.
Qeghdin f’sitwazzjoni ta’ sfidi ekologici globali bhat-tibdil fil-klima li jistghu isiru katastrofici jekk ma jkunx hemm politika li timmangija riskji b’mod sostenibbli.

Izda anke fuq livell lokali, kwistjonijiet bhad-dhahen mill-karozzi, fejn donnu addottajna regoli Ewropej izda mhux nimplimentawhom, qed iwasslu ghal zieda fil-mard respiratorju. Iz-zieda fit-traffiku u l-problemi assocjati mat-trasport pubbliku mhux jghinu s-sitwazzjoni.

Sfidi ohrajn bhall-energija sostenibbli, id-difiza ta’ siti pubblici mill-kommodifikazzjoni, il-kostruzzjoni, l-immanigjar ta’ l-iskart u l-ilma ser ikunu fuq quddiem fil-politika ambjentali Maltija fis-snin li gejjin, u dawn ser ikollhom impatt qawwi ekonomiku u socjali.

Dan kollu jista u ghandu jservi ta’ opportunita’ li nharsu lejn ekonomija hadra. Din izzid is-sostenibilita’ u tipprovdi x-xoghol f’setturi u livelli varji.

Sfida ewlenija relatata mas-sostenibilita’ hi jekk ahniex Konsumaturi – li rridu gratifikazzjoni istantanja f’socjeta’ ta’ ixtri u armi; jew Cittadini li nzwegu d-drittijiet mar-responsabilitajiet, anke lejn generazzjonijiet futuri. Nemmen li din hi l-ikbar dilemma fil-politika socjali llum.

Demokrazija

Id-diskors teknokratiku qed jipprova jikkonvincina li il-kwistjonijiet Ii jezistu llum huma biss ta’ natura manigerjali jew teknika, u li l-ideologija mietet. Altru milli mietet l-ideologija, qed naraw li l-ideologija neo-liberali ghandha rwol ewlieni fiz-zieda fl-inugwaljanzi socjali u fil-krizi ambjentali. Bl-istess mod, jista’ jkun hemm vizjonijiet ohra, li jaspiraw ghal bidliet sostanzjali lejn socjeta’ iktar gusta u sostenibbli.

Politika demokratika taghraf il-possibilta’ ta’ direzzjonijiet politici differenti fil-governanza ta’ socjeta’. Taghraf ukoll li d-diversita’ u l-antagonizmi jistghu isahhu d-demokrazija.

Fil-politika hemm pluralita’ ta’ siti socjali fejn isehhu l-antagonizmi, u dawn m’humiex necessarjament monopolizzati mill-partiti. Jezistu ukoll ghaqdiet non-governattivi, li ghandhom rwol importanti li jqajmu kuxjenza u li jahdmu ghal bidliet socjali.

Il-partiti u l-NGOs jistghu jahdmu fi spirtu ta’ djalogu, fejn l-awtonomija ta’ kull naha tigi rispettata, izda fejn jigu ffurmati alleanzi u koalizzjonijiet skond il-htiega.

Avversarji politici ghandhom jigu rispettati ghall-vizjonijiet differenti taghhom. Politika minghajr avversarji hi politika li tmur kontra s-sens demokratiku, ghax tassumi li kulhadd gie assorbit f’kunsens falz, kunsens monolitiku, kunsens li m’hu xejn ghajr monologu ta’ min ghandu s-sahha.

Ghalhekk, it-tishih demokratiku jezigi li l-diversita’, il-pluralizmu, is-socjeta’ civili u l-forom politici differenti jigu ccelebrati.

Konkluzjoni: L-Awtonomija

Naghlaq billi nosserva li qed nghixu f’socjeta’ li fejn l-individwalizazzjoni hija prezenti f’kull qasam tal-hajja.

L-individwi huma dejjem iktar mehtiega jibnu l-hajja rispettiva taghhom, mill-opportunitajiet li jezistu, nghidu ahna fl-edukazzjoni, sal-kundizzjonijiet ta’ prekarjeta’ li qed jnifirxu f’bosta oqsma tal-hajja, mix-xoghol sar-relazzjonijiet.

F’kundizzjoni ta’ individwalizzazzjoni, m’ghandniex ghazla hlief li naghmlu l-ghazliet, kemm il-darba difficli.

L-ghazliet li naghmlu huma influenzati kemm mill-mod kif nirriflettu dwarhom u kif ukoll fil-kundizzjonijiet li nghixu fihom.
Ghalhekk, sfida ewlenija ghall-politika socjali hi kif l-individwalizazzjoni taghti inqas lok ghall-prekarjeta’ u iktar lok ghall- awtonomija.

B’hekk wiehed ikollu kemm jista’ jkun kontroll fuq l-attivitajiet li jixtieq jaghmel fil-kostruzzjoni ta’ l-identita’ tieghi, fl-isferi varji tal-hajja, mill-familja sax-xoghol, mill-hin liberu sal-edukazzjoni.

L-awtonomija ghandha tkun relatata mal-gustizzja socjali u mas-sostenibilita’ f’kuntest demokratiku. Hawnhekk, ikollna verament politika tac-cittadini, u mhux politika tal-konsumaturi.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Energy Roadshow

Yesterday’s Parliamentary Debate on Malta’s energy plans did not result in any significant development on the matter.

On the one hand there were hard-hitting questions from Nationalist members of Parliament and also from Labour’s Marlene Pullicino. The main focus was on Labour’s broken electoral promise to have the new gas plant ready by March 2015.

There were also various questions regarding the financial and contractual aspects of Government’s plans as well as on various factors such as renewable energy, total energy supply and so forth.

On the other hand, Labour maintained its stand on reduced tariffs for households and business and on the general drift of Government’s plans.

It is obvious that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will not resign on the matter, but it is also obvious that the credibility of the Labour

Government received a blow, particularly when this was a flagship theme in Labour’s electoral campaign in 2013.

The lack of transparency on various aspects of Government’s energy plans does not help things, particularly when energy policy is inherently related to management of risk. For example, it is not clear what will happen after 5 years pass from electricity prices. Civil society is in the dark on specific aspects of the renewable energy plans. The talk of Malta as an energy hub is not being substantiated, and the lack of impact assessments adds mystery to the plot.

For all its worth, the delay in the development of a gas power plant may be worth the wait. This would be the case when the Marsa power station is dismantled, when Malta frees itself from oil dependency and if gas and renewable energy provide Malta’s energy requirements through diversified options in terms of provision.

Chinese investment might bring Enemalta back to financial stability, though there is rarely such a thing as a free meal. Possibly such financial outlay might be linked to the talk of Malta as an energy-exporting hub. Alternatively, it might shift Malta’s energy dependency from one source to another.

As far as the electoral term goes, the Labour Government can thus recoup loss of credibility sustained during these past days, though this is also overdetermined by other issues.

In this regard, Labour is performing well in areas concerning civil liberties and policies such as childcare and educational services, and as far as European election results go, Labour solidified its historic 2013 general election victory.

On the other hand it remains to be seen if Labour will deliver on a myriad of promises concerning precarious employment, sustainable finance and public transport, among others.

Labour’s policies – often characterized by conflicting promises - and performance can lead to implosion or to a hegemonic formation. It’s a long road to the next general election.

This blog also appears in Malta Today (24/10/14) as 'Little Transparency About Our Energy Roadshow' - Link: http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/comment/blogs/1000000132/little_transparency_about_our_energy_roadshow#.VEoQbBaTDWd

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Environmental Impact and Civil Society Matters

Speech in “MALTA’S EU STORY: HOW TEN YEARS OF EU MEMBERSHIP HAVE CHANGED THE COUNTRY”: JOINT SEMINAR BY THE OFFICE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT IN MALTA AND THE TODAY PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE - Europa House, St Paul’s Street, Valletta. Friday, 3rd October 2014

Environmental activism in Maltese civil society was already in place prior to Malta’s EU accssion.

During the 1960s, Din l-Art Helwa, Malta Ornithological Society (which eventually became Birdlife Malta), and Society for the Study and Conservation of Nature (which eventually became Nature Trust) were established, mainly emphasising issues related to conservationism and development of land.

During the 1980s Żgħażagħ għall-Ambjent (which eventually became Moviment għall-Ambjent – Friends of the Earth Malta) joined the fray, introducing the discourse of sustainable development in Maltese environmental politics.

In 1989, Malta’s Green Party, Alternattiva Demokratika, was born. This party, which was briefly preceded by the Democratic Party (PDM), helped ensure that the environment became a major political issue in Malta. Its presence in a small number of local councils has been another achievement.

During the 1990s, collaboration and cooperation amongst ENGOs increased.

The militant and socially-oriented NGO Moviment Graffitti joined ranks, and eventually, other NGOs also joined environmental campaigns.

Examples of such alliances included the Front against the Hilton redevelopment project in St Julians and the Front Against the Golf Course, - the latter comprising a broad coalition made up of diverse environmental, social, cultural, religious and political organisations.

The proposed golf course development was refused by MEPA in 2004, but this victory was not connected to Malta’s EU accession.

This historic environmental victory was similar to others which were not related to EU accession. These included alliances against a proposed leisure complex in Munxar in the mid-1990s; against the proposed Siggiewi cement plant and against a proposed landfill near Mnajdra temple. Another proposed development – that of an airstrip in Gozo –has been disappearing and resurfacing from one legislature to another.

In the meantime, Malta joined the EU. In line with the EU acquis, the country introduced legislation related to the environment, in areas which previously had no regulations. This generally led to environmental improvements and structural upgrading, though there were some notable exceptions, such as Malta’s shift to plastic soft-drink bottles.

Upon Malta’s EU accession, new ENGOs, such as Flimkien ghall-Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) and Ramblers’ Association emerged.

EU membership was discursively constructed as being beneficial to Malta’s environment. New lobbying opportunities were created for ENGOs.

In the first years following Malta’s EU accession, ENGOs were mainly active in issues such as development of land and hunting and trapping.

They were rather successful in relation to sensitizing and procedural impacts. These relate to processes such as raising public awareness and in being consulted by State authorities, though the latter leaves much to be desired.

As regards substantive impacts, ENGOs were generally not succesful in environmental issues in which they were active.

For example, as regards development projects, Malta’s EU accession was not deemed as a sufficient source of ENGO empowerment. Indeed, in most instances – for example in the environmentalist struggle against the so called ‘rationalization’ process of land development - the discourse of economic growth and neo-liberal ideology prevailed.

There were specific exceptions to this however – such as the environmentalist victory over the development of a carpark and shopping centre beneath a popular public garden in Sliema - but this had more to do with local and national political considerations.

An area were ENGOs achieved substantive impacts was the climate change, where Malta adopted binding EU targets, which, however, were subsequently not adhered to.

As regards hunting and trapping, environmentalists pressed for Malta’s conformity to the EU birds’ directive. Many believed that EU legislation would effectively result in an end of hunting during the Spring season.

What actually happened was that ENGOs like Birdlife Malta experienced institutionalisation and had considerable access to European institutions, but hunting in Spring remained largely in place. The ambivalent decision of the European Court of Justice on the Maltese case resulted in plural interpretations.

This resulted in further antagonism from the environmental movement, which has collected enough signatures for an abrogative referendum on hunting. Hence, as far as the case of Birdlife shows, institutionalisation of ENGOs does not always render an organisation docile to the State.

Yet the hunting issue also shows that even Europeanized issues are very much subjected to national political antagonisms.

In short, though empowerment of ENGOs was generally enhanced through EU accession, this was an uneven process.

(Note: This was also published in Zminijietna Oct-Dec 2014)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Energy and political gimmicks

So Malta’s new gas plant will be delayed by some months. Should this be a surprise?

During the 2013 general election campaign, when Labour had promised to have a new gas plant running by March 2015, and I had argued together with my Green Party colleagues (I was AD chairperson at the time) that it was practically impossible to have a regulated plant operate in such a short time frame.

Now that the inevitable is hitting the news headlines, everyone is saying that Labour should play the political price for such an electoral ‘gimmick’. True, but surely the issue should not simply be judged on the electoral circus.

Let us put predictable partisan-discourse aside.

I think that if Malta is to wait a few months longer to have a new gas plant as well as increased usage of renewable energy, I would say this would be worth the wait. This would be even more welcome when we finally consign the Marsa power station and oil dependency to the dustbin of history.

The Labour Government is insisting that its promises on utility bills for families and business will remain on track. Whilst lower prices are welcome, this should be coupled with increased sustainability.

As regards the political economy dimension of Malta’s new energy policy, one cannot help note the big business and geo-political relationships of power involved in a symbiotic relationship between the State and economic forces. On the other hand, I disagree with those who are ‘snobbing’ Malta’s relationship with China out of some pseudo-European essentialism. If anything, China is injecting new funds in an erstwhile near bankrupt State energy provider, and is also increasing options to diversify Malta’s energy mix. Malta is not the only EU member state which is in partnership with China on energy. Italy and Denmark are two other recent examples.

Being solely dependent on China may be an unsustainable way forward, but using the same logic, so would dependence on the interconnector from Sicily. Hence, having a diversified energy mix would provide flexibility for Malta’s energy options, and would also add credence to the argument of having Malta act as an energy hub in the Mediterranean.

In any case, increased flexibility, sovereignty and sustainability would take place if more investment takes place in terms of renewable energy. Malta is still Europe’s laggard in this regard, though we are now reading that Malta now has 3% of its energy coming from renewable sources and that the 10% target for EU2020 targets might actually be reached.

The months to come will provide interesting reading. The gas tanker controversy will add spice to the issue, and lack of transparency on various procedures will not help things. But let us not forget that in the final instance, energy sustainability, sovereignty and flexibility are more importance than partisan gimmicks from either side. Let us also not forget that there is no such thing as energy policy without risks. The managing of risks is another matter.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Michael Briguglio co-edits international book “The Greening of the Mediterranean”

Dr Michael Briguglio is co-editor of “The Greening of the Mediterranean: Crisis and Recovery” published by the Green Economics Institute (UK).

The book is co-edited with Michelle S. Gale de Oliveira, Miriam Kennet, Enrico Tezza, Sofia Amaral and Doaa Salman.

Apart from introducing the book, Michael Briguglio also authors chapters about Climate Change and Environmental NGOs and about Social Policies in Southern Europe. Other authors in the book include Rheinhard Buettikofer; Alain Lipietz; Wilhelm Schmid; Georgis Diakoulakis and Birgit Weiss. Marie Briguglio and Stefano Moncada – also from the University of Malta – also author a chapter on Environmental Challenges in
Malta. The book covers areas related to green economics, employment, social policy, agriculture and politics in the Mediterranean.

Dr Michael Briguglio lectures in Sociology at the University of Malta. His research interests are politics, social movements, environment, culture and social policy.

Reference:
Gale de Oliveira, M.S., Kennet, M., Amaral, S. Tezza, E., Briguglio, M. & Salman, D. (2014): The Greening of the Mediterranean (Reading: The Green Economics Institute Publishing House)

Book flier:
http://www.greeneconomics.org.uk/Books2014/medbookflyerMK120620146.pdf

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Maltese sociologists in International Handbook on Social Policy and the Environment

Dr Michael Briguglio, Maria Brown and Ian Bugeja have co-authored the paper entitled ‘ENGO Activism in the EU: The G10, Climate Change and Social Policy’ which features in the ‘International Handbook on Social Policy and the Environment’ edited by Tony Fitzpatrick and published by Edward Elgar publishing.

This sociological study analyses European environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) in terms of political ideologies and strategies, in relation to climate change policies, and within a social policy context.

More details on the book can be found at:

http://www.e-elgar.com/bookentry_main.lasso?id=14546&breadcrumlink=&breadcrum=&sub_values=

http://www.elgaronline.com/view/9780857936127.xml?rskey=YIJGBe&result=1

Reference:
Briguglio, Michael; Brown, Maria; Bugeja, Ian (2014): ENGO Activism in the EU: The G20, Climate Change and Social Policy. In: Tony Fitzpatrick (ed) International Handbook On Social Policy And The Environment, pp.176-204. UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Towards a Labour hegemony?

The result is clear: in the European election without Europe, Labour thrashed the Nationalist Party.

The Labour Party may be heading towards the construction of a hegemonic formation: made up of the articulation of discourses and policies that are gelling well together from an electoral perspective, even though they may be contradictory.

I’d call it a Third Way articulation of social-democratic, socialist, neo-liberal, liberal and nationalistic discourses. Whether this “politics without adversaries” will eventually implode is something which, at the moment, is difficult to see, particularly when the persona of Joseph Muscat keeps gaining such stature.

Perhaps Labour’s best weapon at the present moment is the Nationalist Party.

The Nationalist Party is on the centre-right in economic issues, but when it comes to values, it seems to be made up of two main factions – one conservative and one liberal, yet without a clear decision-making force, which, in the final instance, pleases nobody.

The Nationalist Party could have portrayed a Europeanist message in this election, yet decided to focus on the faults of the Labour government, when the general public is not in the mood of such negativism. This was a clear strategic own-goal, particularly when scientific surveys showed that Labour and Joseph Muscat had widespread support during the past months.

The small parties will get around 7 per cent of the vote, which is not an insignificant result. Yet, the result represents a plurality of non-reconcilable ideologies, so they can never be lumped into a singular political force.

When it comes to Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party, it did not manage to make significant gains from the 2009 and 2013 European and General elections. In the 2013 general election, the context was very difficult for AD, when so many people wanted a change in government, and yet the party managed to reverse a trend of losing votes in every election, by getting its highest result ever in a general election.

This time around, there was no government at stake – which, in theory, makes the context much easier for small parties. At least this is what happens in many European societies. AD did not manage to gain significantly from such a context, even though it had some good and honest performances on TV debates, particularly when the less prominent candidate Carmel Cacopardo refused to enter irrelevant tit-for-tat arguments on localized issues, and instead focused on rational arguments on European issues.

There could be a plurality of political, cultural and structural factors leading to AD’s result. One also has to look at the fact that in 2009, AD adopted a moderate strategy (as in 2014), while in 2013 AD adopted a left-wing strategy, though I am not sure that this impacted AD’s current result.

What is surely the case was that in the present, an all-and-out leftist void exists in the Maltese political landscape. This does not mean that a coherent left-wing force would have received a positive result.

The fact is that scientific surveys had been predicting the overall result for some time. But I want to point out that such surveys can never predict particular moments when historic ruptures are made. Such encounters may or may not take place.

The masses make history, and in the current moment, the masses are pointing towards a Labour hegemony.

In the current moment, and beyond Malta’s hegemonic formations, the EU is characterised by urgent issues, which did not feature in Malta's European Elections. The destructive policies of austerity and precariousness; the neo-liberal trade agreement with the US (TTIP); the imperialist dabbling in foreign policy; and the great leap backwards in climate change, are cases in point.

This article appears in Malta Today, 25th May 2014
http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/comment/blogs/39385/towards_a_labour_hegemony_#.U4IQbTOKBMt

Monday, May 12, 2014

A look at the employment reforms

The Labour Government has announced a number of reforms in relation to employment policy. The reforms propose a number of changes which however confirm the hybrid status of Malta’s welfare state, with a mix of universalistic social policies and conditional welfare.

Such reforms include in-work benefits through which low-income earners retain social benefits for three years; full state payment of maternity benefits coupled with a small increase in the national insurance contribution by employers and increased expenditure and prioritization of training and of inclusion of groups such as persons with disability.

They are coupled with universalistic policies such as the introduction of universal free childcare centres, breakfast clubs and the expansion of universally-accessible summer schools. Such policies are reminiscent of strong social models, and they were previously regarded as token gestures by the previous Government which clinged upon the conservative belief that the State should play a minimal role in such services. In this field, the Labour Government is carrying out bold progressive reforms which can improve the quality of life of many persons who were previously trapped in inflexible and outdated polices related to the work-life balance.

On the other hand, other reforms announced by the Government have a dose of conditionality. Persons who are registering for employment will be forced to accept jobs within the same ISCO category, should they register for non-existent jobs, otherwise they will lose their benefits. At the same time, however, minimum wage earners will get a top-up paid by the state in the region of Euro 1,500 per year.

Some questions come to mind on the reforms in question.

If an unemployed worker has no choice but to accept employment on offer, what happens if the job in question is precarious? Here one has to keep in mind that Malta is witnessing the steady increase of contractual employment, even with respect to public service contracts. This points to two important considerations.

First: That the State should introduce clear legislation against precarious employment, thus giving priority to principles such as equal pay for equal work; and the need for job-permanence.

Second, that universally accessible benefits should not be parcelled out of Malta’s welfare system. This consideration is important not only to compensate those who find themselves unemployed, but also because there are various groups, categories and individuals who, for a number of reasons, cannot enter the labour market, either permanently or temporarily. Forcing such persons to take up a job might only increase hardships on their everyday life.

As regards the tapering of benefits for a three-year period, what will happen to affected persons following the third year of employment, if the job is precarious and offers no long-term stability? This takes us back to the need to immediately tackle the problem of precarious employment.

Another question which I would like to ask has to do with the State top-up given to minimum wage earners. Whilst this top-up is most welcome, will its value be reflected in the pension received by such workers once they retire? In this regard, it is pertinent to note that the Government is due to announce reforms with respect to third-pillar pensions. Such private pensions are not normally afforded by low-income earners. Hence, can we be heading towards the intensification of class inequality amongst elderly persons? Hopefully not.

Government’s bold reforms are taking place in a context where, despite Malta’s comparatively low unemployment rate, the country still has a comparatively employment rate - around 62 per cent –, even though this has increased in the past years. The Government is aiming to raise this percentage to 70 per cent by 2020, for persons aged 20-64.

In this context, foreign workers have increased from 2 per cent to 7 per cent, and at the end of October last year the number of foreigners on full-time and part-time work in Malta totalled 15,094, of whom 9,670 came from the EU and 5,424 from outside. As is the case with Maltese workers in other countries, such workers are contributing to Malta’s economy, to their own quality of life and to that of their loved ones. The State should make sure that precariousness is avoided even amongst such workers, and should avoid discourse which, even if unintentionally, can give rise to moral panics.

Talking about moral panics, I appeal to progressives to disassociate from neo-liberal assertions on welfare recipients as if they have some predisposition to abuse the system. To the contrary, an egalitarian discourse should value the various contributions made by persons, including those who are not employed, to their own quality of life, to their significant others, to their communities and to society in general.

Despite their worth, opinion surveys, monetary figures and statistical considerations can never measure characteristics of human worth such as love and care, for example of a single parent towards her or his child. Nor can it portray the existential angst of those who find themselves in situations such as precarious employment, precarious relationships, illness and other hardships.

This article also appeared in Malta Today, 8 May 2014
http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/comment/blogs/38799/a_look_at_the_employment_reforms#.U3DTSVedHWc

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Publication of Paper: The Politics of Bluefin Tuna in Malta



My paper "The Politics of Bluefin Tuna in Malta" has been published in the international peer-reviewed academic journal 'Annuals of Marine Sociology'.

The paper can be read at:
http://rsm.czasopisma.pan.pl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=948:no-xxii-2013&catid=61:wydania&Itemid=183

Reference:
Briguglio, Michael (2013): The Politics of Bluefin Tuna in Malta. Roczniki Socjologii Morskiej. Annuals of Marine Sociology (2013), VOL. XXII. p51-61.

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the politics of bluefin tuna in Malta within the first years of EU accession (2004-9). The paper concludes that despite making certain impacts, ENGOs (environmental non-governmental organizations) were unsuccessful in creating a hegemonic formation to stop the fishing of bluefin tuna until stocks recover.

My academic publications list can be checked out here:
http://malta.academia.edu/MichaelBriguglio

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sena ta’ Gvern Laburista

Intlabt naghti kumment ghall-gazzetta it-Torca (9/3/14) dwar l-ewwel sena ta' Gvern Laburista. Wegibt hekk:

Sena ta’ Gvern Laburista, wara kwazi hamsa u ghoxrin sena ta’ Gvern Nazzjonalista…. Hemm min forsi kien qed jistenna l-mirkali f’din l-ewwel sena, specjalment wara li l-Partit Laburista bena politika ‘minghajr avversarji’ – dik ‘taghna lkoll’- li waslet ghal rebha elettorali fenomenali fl-2013. U hemm min jirraguna li fl-ewwel sena, il-Gvern gdid ghadu qed isib saqajh u ghalhekk hija xi haga naturali li jiehu decizzjonijiet tajbin u ohrajn inqas tajbin, forsi wkoll frott ta’ nuqqas ta’ esperjenza.

Dan huwa Gvern tal-politika tat-‘third way’ – il-politika li giet teorizata minn hassieba bhas-socjologu Anthony Giddens u mhaddma minn politici bhal Tony Blair. Din it-tip ta’ politika hija wahda prammatika li ghandha aspetti xellugin – bhat-twemmin fl-inkluzjoni socjali, u aspetti leminin, bhat-thaddin ta’ politika ekonomika neo-liberali. Imbaghad hemm aspetti li jippruvaw jirrikonciljaw il-gustizzja socjali mas-suq hieles.

Fil-fatt ,fl-ewwel sena ta’ Gvern Laburista f’Malta rajna kif ihares lejn l-ugwaljanza f’termini ta’ l-inkluzjoni socjali u drittijiet civili. Ghalhekk, il-Gvern qed jahdem biex idahhal l-unjoni civili bejn koppji ta’ l-istess sess – bl-istess drittijiet ta’ kopji mizzewga; ser idahhal childcare centres b’xejn ghal genituri li jahmdu jew jistudjaw; kif ukoll li jdahhal mizuri ta’ welfare li jinkoragixxu lil persuni biex jidhlu fid-dinja tax-xoghol u jzommu l-beneficcji socjali ghal medda ta’ snin.

F’dak li ghandu x’jaqsam mal-faqar u l-eskluzzjoni socjali, hija pozittiva li l-Gvern hareg green paper ghall-konsultazzjoni mas-socjeta’ civili, u hija pozittiva wkoll li l-Gvern qieghed jirikonoxxi li dawn ir-realtajiet ghandhom dimensjonijiet varji. Dan imur lil’hinn minn hsieb fossilizzat ta’ one-size-fits-all fil-politika socjali.

Rajna wkoll li l-Gvern qieghed jipprova jkun iktar inklussiv fis-settur edukattiv, billi, fost ohrajn, jirikonoxxi li hemm tfal li gejjin minn tipi differenti ta’ familji u kulturi.

Bosta policies f’dan ir-rigward ghadhom ma dahlux fis-sehh, izda kollox jindika li ser jiddahlu. Dan zgur ikun ta’ sodisfazzjon mhux biss ghal persuni involuti direttament f’dawn l-oqsma fil-hajja personali taghhom, izda wkoll ghal min jemmen f’socjeta’ iktar gusta u iktar inklussiva.

Min-naha l-ohra, rajna li l-Gvern Laburista wettaq bosta decizzjonijiet li jxeqilbu lejn in-neo-liberalizmu. Per ezempju qieghed inaqqas it-taxxa fuq id-dhul ghal min jaqla’ l-iktar. Din il-politika tista’ tidher sabiha u tista’ trebbah il-voti, izda tista’ twassal ghal riperkussjonijiet finanzjari li jheddu is-sostenibilita’ ta’ servizzi pubblici, li huma tant importanti biex nevitaw il-faqar u inugwaljanzi kbar.

Hawnhekk tidhol il-famuza kwistjoni tac-cittadinanza, fejn huma stmati li jidhlu xi Biljun Ewro fil-fondi pubbli. Ovjament, din hi somma kbira, izda wiehed irid joqghod attent li ma ggibx maghha infieq insostenibbli li jwassal ghal kollass finanzjarju hekk kif dan id-dhul jispicca. Biex ma nsemmux l-aspettattivi gholjin li jirrizultaw minn dan id-dhul, fejn korpi u gruppi differenti jibdew jaghmlu iktar pressjoni fuq il-Gvern ghal htigijiet settorjali taghhom.

Il-problema li ghandi jien b’dan kollu hu li pajjizna qed jiftah il-bibien ghal min jiflah ihallas, u jghalaqhom ghal min qieghed jahrab minn sitwazzjonijiet tragici f’pajjizi foqra. L-isfortuna ta’ dan kollu hu li dan kollu qed isir bil-barka tal-Kummisjoni Ewropea, li qed tersaq il-boghod minn mudell socjali u egalitarju.

Fil-qasam ambjentali jidher ukoll li l-Gvern Laburista qieghed jaghti priorita’ lill-interessi ta’ zviluppaturi u negozjanti kbar. Nassumi li l-ghan hu li ddur ir-rota ekonomika, izda dan ser jigi bi prezz gholi: prezz li diga’ rajna kemm jiswa taht Gvernijiet Nazzjonalisti li ghamlu ftit li xejn f’dak li ghandu x’jaqsam ma’ sostenibilita’ ambjentali. Kemm nistghu nibqghu nibnu mega-progetti? U kemm nistghu nibqghu nahlu rizorsi bhall-ilma qisu xejn m’hu xejn?

Dwar l-energija, il-Gvern qieghed jimxi skond il-mandat tieghu favur uzu ta’ gass u b’mod prammatiku qieghed jipprivatizza parti mill-EneMalta. Il-mistoqsijiet tieghi f’dan ir-rigward huma jekk il-Gvern huwiex qed jghaggel wisq fil-politika tieghu – per ezempju f’dak li ghandu x’jaqsam mal-hazna tal-gass f’Marsaxlokk- u jekk il-Gvern huwiex ser jaghti priorita’ li jisthoq ghall-energija rinnovabbli. Din ta’ l-ahhar tista’ twassal ghal iktar sovranita’ fl-uzu ta’ l-energija f’Malta, specjalment jekk l-istat ikollu rwol ewlieni fil-qasam. Dipendenza fuq oligarkiji ta’ l-energija ghandha l-perikli taghha.

Qasam iehor li qed johloq kontroversja hu dak tal-hatriet f’karigi ewlenin fis-settur pubbliku. Filwaqt li nifhem u naqbel mal-kuncett li nies ta’ fiducja ghandhom ihaddnu twemmin simili ghal tal-partit fil-Gvern, u filwaqt li nirikonixxi li bosta nies li nhatru f’karigi ewlenin ghandhom il-kwalitajiet u l-kwalifici mehtiega ghar rwoli rispettivi taghhom, fl-istess hin nahseb li saru numru ta’ hatriet li m’humiex fuq bazi ta’ meritokrazija. Jidher li pajjizna – bhal pajjizi ohrajn fin-nofs in-nhar ta’ l-Ewropa, huwa mdorri bil-politika ta’ patrunagg.

Ghalhekk, jidher li dan il-Gvern ghandu pluralita’ ta’ dimensjonijiet u direzzjonijiet.

Nahseb fiz-zmien li gej ser tkun iktar cara li politika favur l-ugwaljanza ma’ tistax tinjora l-klassi socjali. Per ezempju, fil-kwistjoni tax-xoghol prekarju, x’ser jaghmel il-Gvern? Ser jintroduci ligijiet cari li ma jippermettux dan it-tip ta’ xoghol u li, per ezempju, jghollu l-paga minima, jew ser jaghmel kif jixtiequ l-ghaqdiet ta’ min ihaddem – jigifieri li jhalli s-suq isuq? Liema klassi socjali ser jappoggja l-Gvern?

Probabilment il-Gvern Laburista ser jibqa jahdem fl-isfond ta’ strategija ta’ politika minghajr avversararji, u jipprova jsib kompromessi f’kwistjonijiet li jaharqu. Izda din it-tip ta’ politika tista’ tahdem fuq medda ta’ snin? Rajna li fil-kaz ta’ Gvern Laburista bejn l-1996 u l-1998, kien hemm impluzzjoni, fejn l-aspettativi kbar li holoq il-Partit ma setghux jintlahqu ghax kien hemm wisq kontradizzjonijiet. Min-naha l-ohra rajna li Gvernijiet Nazzjonalisti irnexxilhom jirrikonciljaw interessi differenti ghal bosta snin… .. Izda mhux ghal dejjem, bhal ma rajna fil-kwistjoni tad-divorzju.

Nemmen li fis-snin li gejjin nistghu naraw zewg toroq ghall-politika tal-Gvern Laburista.

L-ewwel li l-istrategija ta’ ‘taghna lkoll’ hija wahda mimlija kontradizzonijiet li ma jistghux jigu rikonciljati – u li ghalhekk sarfet biss f’rebha elettorali minghajr garanziji.

Jew, it-tieni, li l-Gvern Laburista ghandu strategija effettiva ta’ kif jirrikoncilja l-politika tieghu u li qed jibni egemonija, l-istess bhal m’ghamlu Partit Laburista fis-sebghinijiet u l-Partit Nazzjonalista ghal kwazi kwart ta’ seklu, fejn saru bidliet kbar fis-socjeta’ Maltija.

Nittama li jekk dan hu l-kaz, il-Gvern Laburista jaqbad triq li thares iktar lejn ix-xellug.

Labour’s year at the helm

The Sunday Times 9th March 2014
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20140309/local/The-more-things-change-Labour-s-year-at-the-helm.509802


The Sunday Times asked me for a short comment on the first year of Labour Government. This is how I replied:


With regard to social justice and civil rights, Labour is attempting to increase equality through measures such as universal childcare centres and recognition of plural family forms, even in education.

This is a big step forward in Malta. On the other hand, Labour’s fiscal policy is regressive. Shortfalls will possibly be aided through the cash-for-citizenship scheme, which, in turn, can generate new antagonisms through the demands it creates. The latter is also in line with the discriminatory concept of Fortress Europe.

On energy, Labour is in line with its electoral pledge, but it may be rushing too much in its risk analysis of gas storage. Besides, overdependence on energy oligarchs has its dangers.

The same can be said with respect to over-reliance on big business land developers.

Where public appointments are concerned, not all can be deemed as meritocratic, as is the case with southern European patronage.

Challenges such as the battle against precarious employment and the need to increase the minimum wage will give a clearer definition of Labour’s direction. This is a ‘third way’ pragmatic government which is attempting to reconcile social justice with neo-liberalism.

This is a government that can implode due to its internal contradictions, or that can be building a hegemonic government, as was the case with Labour in the 1970s and the Nationalists for almost 25 years.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Persons with ME and FM: A step forward in social inclusion

The Times of Malta has reported Health Minister Godfrey Farrugia's parliamentary statement that the government’s list of 82 chronic diseases is being increased by two – myalgia encephalopathy (ME) and fibromyalgia (FM).

This is a big step forward with regard to the social inclusion of persons with ME and FM - something which was denied in previous years. Hopefully this will lead to increased recognition of ME and FM in terms of Social Policy.

On a personal note I am proud to have done my part on this issue in helping raise public awareness in the political and academic spheres when the issue was invisible within civil society.

Well done to campaigners in the field and to the Government for taking heed of civil society.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ġlieda kontra l-faqar u l-esklużjoni soċjali

Michael Briguglio
l-orizzont 20 ta' Frar 2014
http://www.orizzont.com.mt/FullArticle.php?ID1=%27Opinjoni%27&ID2=116870



Żminijietna - Leħen ix-Xellug tawgura lill-Gvern li qiegħed iniedi proċess ta’ konsultazzjoni dwar il-‘green paper’ għal struttura għal tnaqqis fil-faqar u għal inklużjoni soċjali. Huwa pożittiv li l-Gvern qiegħed jirrikonoxxi li hemm dimensjonijiet varji tal-faqar u esklużjoni soċjali u li dawn jeħtieġu politika olistika għal problema li qiegħda tikber. Huwa pożittiv ukoll li l-Gvern qiegħed jirrikonoxxi li l-Istat għandu responsabilità li permezz ta’ politika soċjali jista’ jikkumbatti dawn l-isfidi, u li se jidħlu bosta miżuri f’dan ir-rigward, kif ġew imħabbra fil-baġit 2014.

Żminijietna – Leħen ix-Xellug temmen li Malta għandha tħares lejn mudell soċjali li hu mibni fuq ‘welfare state’, universalità li jagħti l-importanza xierqa lil sfidi partikolari u lid-diversitajiet li jeżistu fil-faqar u fl-esklużjoni soċjali. Żminijietna temmen ukoll li diskors dwar l-inguwaljanza ma jistax iħalli barra fatturi relatati ma’ klassi soċjali u lanqas ma jista’ jirraġuna li m’hemmx alternattivi għall-politika neo-liberali u kunċetti bħal privatizzazzjoni. Żminijietna – Leħen ix-Xellug qiegħda tagħmel dawn il-proposti għal struttura għal tnaqqis fil-faqar u għal inklużjoni soċjali f’Malta.

1. Żieda fil-paga minima u riforma fil-COLA biex tirrifletti l-għoli tal-ħajja
Din għandha tkopri lill-ħaddiema kollha, ‘full-time’, ‘part-time’ u kuntrattwali, u tista’ twassal għal livell ta’ għejxien aħjar għal ħaddiema b’paga baxxa, parteċipazzjoni ikbar fis-suq tax-xogħol peress li x-xogħol ikun iktar irendi u iktar produttiv.

2. Liġi kontra x-xogħol prekarju

Għandu jkun hemm definizzjoni ċara ta’ xogħol prekarju biex b’hekk tidħol fis-seħħ leġislazzjoni kontra dan it-tip ta’ xogħol u favur xogħol diċenti.

3. “Active policy measures” fi sfond ta’ ‘welfare’ universali
Filwaqt li hu tajjeb li jkun hemm skemi ta’ taħriġ, ‘tapering’ ta’ benefiċċji soċjali sabiex jinkoraġixxu lil persuni biex isibu mpjieg mingħajr ma jieħdu skoss permezz ta’ telf ta’ benefiċċji soċjali, dan m’għandux iwassal għal ‘welfare’ kundizzjonali u tnaqqis ta’ ‘welfare’ universali. Dan tal-aħħar għandu jitqies bħala kumpens għal inugwaljanzi u diffikultajiet li ġġib magħha sistema kapitalista, u bħala dħul xieraq li jiżgura li ma jkunx hemm nies fil-faqar.

4. Ġlieda kontra l-faqar relatat mal-konsum tal-enerġija u favur il-‘green jobs’
L-istat għandu jiżgura mhux biss li l-kontijiet tad-dawl, ilma u gass ikunu affordabbli, iżda wkoll li jiżdied l-aċċess għall-enerġija nadifa u rinnovabbli b’għajnuna tal-istat u ppjanar li jżid l-aċċess f’binjiet. Sfidi ambjentali u ta’ enerġija għandhom jitqiesu bħala opportunità ta’ ħolqien ta’ ‘green jobs’ u sostenibilità. L-istat għandu jkollu rwol ewlieni fil-produzzjoni u distribuzzjoni tal-enerġija.

5. Politika inklussiva dwar diżabilità
Għandu jkun hemm politika li tirrikonixxi d-diversità ta’ diżabilitajiet, biex b’hekk tinkoraġixxi ‘independent living’, impjieg u/jew ħarsien soċjali skond il-persuna, sabiex kulħadd ikollu kwalità ta’ ħajja tajba garantita. Il-kunsilli lokali għandhom jiġu obbligati li jimpjegaw persuni b’diżabilità fost il-ħaddiema tagħhom.

6. Pensjoni diċenti
Malta għandha tersaq lejn pensjoni universali għal kull pensjonant sabiex jonqsu l-inugwaljanzi ta’ klassi soċjali u l-faqar. L-istat m’għandux jabdika mir-responsabilità li jipprovdi din it-tip ta’ pensjoni. Ħaddiema anzjani m’għandhomx jiġu meqjusa bħala piż fuq l-ekonomija u jiġu ddiskriminati, iżda għandhom jitħallew jaħdmu jekk huma jixtiequ jagħmlu dan, u jibqgħu jżommu l-pensjoni.

7. Ugwaljanza fost it-tfal
Għandha tissaħħaħ l-edukazzjoni komprensiva, li filwaqt li tirrikonoxxi li tfal jista’ jkollhom ħiliet u nteressi differenti, m’għandhomx jiġu segregati b’mod klassist. Għandu jiġi żgurat ukoll li t-tfal kollha jkollhom id-dritt ta’ aċċess universali għal attivitajiet kulturali, mużikali, sportivi u edukattivi offruti mill-istat.

8. Taxxi progressivi
Il-Gvern għandu jerġà jintroduċi taxxa fuq id-dħul ta’ 35% għal min għandu paga għolja. Din ir-rata hija waħda mill-iktar baxxi fl-Ewropa u ma ixxekkilx l-investiment jew l-inizjattiva. Id-dħul iġġenerat għandu jintuża biex jiffinanzjaw in-nefqa pubblika tal-Gvern, li b’hekk tkun fuq sisien sostenibbli, speċjalment f’dak li għandu x’jaqsam ma’ nefqa rikorrenti.

9. Paga massima fis-settur pubbliku
Il-Gvern m’għandux iżid l-inguwaljanzi fis-settur pubbliku billi jagħti pagi astronomiċi fejn hemm min saħansitra qed ikollu iktar minn żewġ pagi ‘full-time’ ta’ xogħol u konsulenzi li jagħmel fis-settur pubbliku.

10. Integrazzjoni u ġustizzja soċjali fl-immigrazzjoni
Għandu jkun hemm iktar inforzar tal-liġi kontra min qiegħed jisfrutta lill-immigranti irregolari għal xogħol, u għandu jkun hemm politika iktar soċjalment ġusta fuq livell nazzjonali u Ewropew, favur integrazzjoni u kontra d-detenzjoni u ‘pushbacks’.

11. Ħidma ikbar mas-soċjetà ċivili
Għandu jkun hemm iktar konsultazzjoni ma’ għaqdiet non-governattivi, riċerkaturi u esperti f’oqsma varji tas-soċjetà ċivili. Fost oħrajn, għandu jiġi żgurat li jkun hemm iktar konsultazzjoni fost riċerka li ssir fl-Università ta’ Malta.

12. Ġustizzja soċjali u mhux diskors neoliberali u tal-‘underclass’
L-istat għandu jaħdem għal mudell soċjali ibbażat fuq ġustizzja soċjali, ugwaljanza, aċċessibilità u inklużjoni. Għalhekk diskors uffiċjali li jħares lejn persuni foqra bħala każijiet ta’ individwi li jġibu ruħhom ħażin u li huma ħatja tal-faqar tagħhom għandu jiġi evitat. Għandu jiġi evitat kull diskors uffiċjali li jsostni li m’hemmx alternattivi sostenibbli għall-privatizzazzjoni.

13. Diskussjoni strutturata dwar l-introduzzjoni ta’ dħul minimu garantit għal kulħadd
Dan sabiex ħadd ma jgħix fil-faqar filwaqt li ma tinqatax l-inizjattiva għal min irid jidħol fis-suq tax-xogħol. Is-sistema tal-‘welfare’ tkun issimplifikata u l-ispejjeż soċjali relatati ma’ faqar jingħelbu.

14. Investiment ikbar fis-saħħa priventiva u politika kontra inugwaljanza ta’ klassi fis-settur tas-saħħa
Il-Gvern m’għandux jippermetti li min għandu aċċess għal ‘insurances’ u konsulenti privati jingħata preferenza għal aċċess fis-settur pubbliku tas-saħħa.

15. ‘One-stop shop’ għal persuni fi kriżi imminenti

Il-Gvern għandu jiffaċilità l-aċċess għal għajnuna soċjali lil min għandu emerġenza ta’ faqar u/jew esklużjoni soċjali bħal persuni li jinsabu bla saqaf, eks-ħabsin, immigranti rregolari u persuni li jesperjenzaw faqar għall-ewwel darba minħabba emerġenza bħal mard serju.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

For Risk Analysis on Gas Storage at Marsaxlokk

The issue surrounding Malta's shift from heavy fuel oil to gas is once again mired in controversy.

I subscribe to the position of ENGOs and residents for a risk assessment on gas storage at Marsaxlokk. I do not subscribe to partisan-populist alarmism on all sides, of 'cancer factories'; 'timebombs' and other doomsday prophecies. I appeal to the Government to conduct a risk assessment before proceeding. Even though this might slow down Malta's shift to gas, and thus not be in line with Labour's promised time-frames, it would enhance transparency and give due importance to the voices of civil society on the management of risk. In this regard, it is important to note that all energy options, of essence, have manufactured risks within them. Risk analysis can simply clarify the picture on how risks on energy options can be tackled. Hence, 'gospel truths' on water-tight solutions should be treated suspiciously.

Of course there are other issues which one can refer to, such as whether the part-privatization of energy provision in Malta, coupled with Malta's shift to gas will result in a new energy dependency on big business oligarchs at the expense of the pressing need to increase usage of renewable energy sources, in view of Malta's sustainability challenges and climate change targets.

Background:

James Debono - Delimara: why all the haste?
http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/blogsdetails/blogs/Delimara-why-all-the-haste-20140217

Din L-Art Helwa - Risk Analysis for Delimara power station must be completed before permit is granted
http://dinlarthelwa.org/uncategorized/risk-analysis-for-delimara-power-station-must-be-completed-before-permit-is-granted/

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The future of Malta’s cash-for-citizenship scheme?

The future of Malta's discriminatory cash-for-citizenship scheme?

These are 2 possible scenarios.

(1) It can be withdrawn or removed (2) It can be copied by other countries.

The first case would be a victory for social justice. The second would represent an unintended effect of the Maltese Government's rushed decision-making. It would result in the triumph of discriminatory, class-based inequality, an intensification of commodification at a European level. I hope that Malta does not become a beacon of the second type of policy approach.

In the final instance, the question is whether we want Malta and EU to discriminate in favour of the rich. Not in my name.

I appeal to progressives to think in terms of the need for a Social Europe, and not to resort to cynical fatalism or counter-productive nationalism. Let us not fuel inequality by supporting such a discriminatory policy.

Other posts on Malta’s cash-for-citizenship scheme:

http://mikes-beat.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-revamped-citizenship-scheme-first.html

http://mikes-beat.blogspot.com/2013/11/deconstructing-citizenship.html