Sociologist, local councillor, activist, drummer from Malta

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What type of Europe do we want?

Judging by what we saw on TV and in the press, and as far as party campaigning goes, Malta’s European Election campaign did not give a clear answer to this question.

No party clearly told us whether it wants a continuation of the current EU paradigm, or whether it wants another Europe, a transformed social Europe. Do we want a continuation of EU-imposed austerity measures which are decimating social cohesion and accelerating inequalities and precariousness in societies such as Greece and Italy?

No party expressed opposition to EU foreign policy, which is dabbling in imperialist cold war geo-politics in Ukraine, to the advantage of neo-Nazi thugs and Far Right parties.

No party told us whether it is bound to safeguard Malta’s constitutional neutrality, or whether it will support the so-called European External Action Service, which is unaccountable to the European and national parliaments.

Whilst many are protesting in cities such as Brussels against the TTIP (the free trade agreement between the EU and the US), this issue simply did not feature during allocated airtime on TV. This is the same agreement that proposes to liberalize and privatize sectors such as education and essential public services, to the detriment of workers and consumers’ rights, in line with the American neo-liberal policy model.

Climate change was practically inexistent, even though we are getting scientific updates that show that its perils are even worse than we thought. The elephant in the room was sidelined for slogans on issues unrelated to the European Parliament.

Indeed, what we heard in Maltese media debates were slogans on a myriad of issues over which the European Parliament has little or no competence. Migration, bird hunting and appointments in the public sector are all worthy issues but the plain fact is that, as things stand, national governments have a high degree of power over their implementation.

On the other hand, the European Parliament has a relatively high degree of power on issues such as the European budget and trade agreements and on new proposals by the European Commission. Yet in Malta’s debate, we had a discursive void on all this.

In short, in Malta we had a European election without Europe.

In the meantime, it is interesting to note that according to PollWatch2014, which is one of the most reliable social-scientific sources for EP electoral polls, this is how the European Parliament is likely to appear after Saturday’s vote.

Popular Party 213 seats (down from 274 in 2009); Socialists 209 (up from 196); Liberals 83 (up from 76); Eurosceptics 64 (up from 31); Left 54 (up from 35); Conservatives 46 (down from 57); Far Right 39 (up from 31); Greens 35 (down from 57) and Independent 15 (down from 33).

A more detailed analysis of these predictions can be found here:

If these predictions are on mark, a spectacle of alliance-building strategies await in the European Parliament in the weeks ahead. Besides the inevitable maneuvering that characterizes lobbying for power, we will witness a clash of ideologies and of the type of Europe we can expect as far as the European Parliament goes.

This article appeared in Malta Today, 21st May 2014

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