The Maltese conundrum

It has been nearly 25 years since I last visited the Islands of Malta, so it was nice to spend a relaxing holiday there again, although the changes that have taken place in that time are all too apparent, some good, some not so good.

A member of the EU since 2004, Malta has been a big net beneficiary of the EUs bribery money, the Regional Development funds, Structural funds and specific Archaeological project funding. In many cases they have used the money well, providing the islands with a network of new roads which is a huge improvement on those left by the last of the colonial rulers, the UK, or the huge water desalination plant which feeds both the general public and the commercial and farming industries with a regular supply of clean water, and I don’t think that there is any doubt that investments in this kind of infrastructure were sorely needed.

Other areas of EU regulation and the use of funds are more contentious, such as the Gozo Ferry, with the rebuilding of the port facilities in MGarr and Cirkewwa which many say are unnecessary and the raft of legal actions with the EU over the monopoly of the Gozo Channel Line, only now resolved with a new tender, won by a consortium of state owned companies.

What draws the most ire however are the bus services in Malta, long a major tourist attraction, and is another of the facilities upon which EU regulation is forcing ‘modernisation’. Mid June will see the end of the famous and iconic owner/operator yellow buses to be replaced by a fleet of brand new imported buses operated by Arriva, liveried in its now familiar communitarian blue, who have won a monopoly service contract from the Maltese government. The fleet will include many of the bendy-buses that London Mayor Boris Johnson had asked Arriva to remove because they are too big and unweildly for the streets of London. How these buses will operate in the tiny narrow streets of Maltese towns and villages I have no idea. The rules laid down by the EU stipulate that the displaced owners of the old yellow buses will not even be allowed to run tourist services, which needless to say has caused a lot of ill feeling across the Island.

All of these things however are fairly superficial, it is the societal changes that are taking place which are by far the most concerning. It is like watching Ireland as it changed from being a land which had fought and won its independence from colonial rule to only sign it away again by joining in the love fest of the EU, discarding its ancient customs and ways for a lifestyle that is based on a utopian sameness, run by bureaucrats fed by cheap credit and created the now famous Celtic Tiger economy. An economic model that in the fullness of time has proven to be unsustainable, and so I fear it will be for Malta.

Unlike Ireland the Maltese are not a manufacturing or business center, their entire economic boom is based upon EU money and credit. In no small way the Maltese see this as a kind of reparation, knowing full well that the majority of this money comes from German and British taxes, but like everyone else they believe this pot of money is endless.

In a test of wills the Maltese government under the guidance of the EU have set sail on a course to stamp bureaucratic standards above those of historical Malta, which for centuries have adopted the morals and standards of the Catholic Church, with a referendum on the introduction of divorce to be held on Saturday, 28 May 2011. Malta is the only European country where divorce is not permitted.

Everywhere one looks we see the trappings of this new unrealistic economy, more people than ever now work for government and EU agencies providing or supervising EU regulations, virtually all foodstuffs, dairy products, juices and soft drinks are now imported from Germany and France as its own farming and food industries slide into decline, property developers have moved in in strength, with tower blocks of apartments having taken over the skyline of Sliema at triple the price of anywhere else in Malta using non lasting building methods which are totally alien to the landscape and history of Malta, the buy to let market is being actively encouraged, and as we saw in Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal young farmers see a quick and easy profit in development & letting rather than growing food.

The RPI and taxes along with the unemployment rate is rising fast whilst the amount of floor space being taken up by new car showrooms and the attendant finance companies is one of the largest growth industries in Malta, with banks and EU agencies showering credit credit credit, boom boom boom that will surely be followed in time by an Ireland/Spain/Greece style bust.

Malta has lived under the rule of Greeks, Romans, Moors, Turks, Knights Hospitalers, Napoleons French and the British, finally achieving independence in 1964, and I for one find it hard to watch as they willingly adopt an EU economic model founded on the shifting sands of credit turning the quick buck rather than the historic rock that has sustained Malta for thousands of years.

I applaud the Maltese for taking some bold decisions in raising their living standards and for following some of the modernisation programmes that they have, but they must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, they must take care not repeat the mistakes that earlier EU entrants have made, and should pay particular attention to the Irish, Spanish and Greek economic shambles.

The only difference I see is that the Maltese people themselves made the decision to join the EU in a referendum in 2003, although I still don’t think they are fully aware of the ultimate consequences of giving up their hard won independence to the faceless bureaucrats in Brussels. Malta, like all the other countries who are now EU member states, is losing its uniqueness, its Malti heritage, everything which to the visitor IS Malta, to become like the rest of us just another uniform EU region, in hock forever to the latest empire to occupy their shores.

I wonder in future years just how much today’s children of Malta will eventually thank this generation for this latest form of economic slavery.

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About IanPJ

Ian Parker-Joseph, former Leader of the Libertarian Party UK, who currently heads PDPS Internet Hosting and the Personal Deed Poll Services company, has been an IT industry professional for over 20 years, providing Business Consulting, Programme and Project Management, specialising in the recovery of Projects that have failed in a process driven world. Ian’s experience is not limited to the UK, and he has successfully delivered projects in the Middle East, Africa, US, Russia, Poland, France and Germany. Working within different cultures, Ian has occupied high profile roles within multi-nationals such as Nortel and Cable & Wireless. These experiences have given Ian an excellent insight into world events, and the way that they can shape our own national future. His extensive overseas experiences have made him all too aware of how the UK interacts with its near neighbours, its place in the Commonwealth, and how our nation fits into the wider world. He is determined to rebuild many of the friendships and commercial relationships with other nations that have been sadly neglected over the years, and would like to see greater energy and food security in these countries, for the benefit of all. Ian is a vocal advocate of small government, individual freedom, low taxation and a minimum of regulation. Ian believes deeply and passionately in freedom and independence in all areas of life, and is now bringing his professional experiences to bear in the world of politics.
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2 Responses to The Maltese conundrum

  1. Edward Spalton says:

    In the run up to the Maltese referendum on EU membership, I was one of a number of people who wrote regularly to the Maltese English language papers to try to offset the enormous pressure of EU propaganda. It was rather a strange thing that the party which calls itself Nationalist was overwhelmingly for the island’s absorption into the Euro-state whilst the Labour party mostly was not. There was (and is) a cross party Campaign for National Independence but party loyalties are very fierce and deep, making cooperation difficult. Ireland, of course, was held up as the great example of what Malta could become when showered with EU cash.

    I decided to go to meet the campaigners and felt the weight of EU propaganda as soon as I opened the Air Malt in-flight magazine. “Europe our destiny – Malta’s opportunity” – that sort of thing. My main contact was Eddie Privitera, who features in today’s Sunday Telegraph as one of the leaders of the campaign for repeal of the ban on divorce. He and his charming partner Joyce have now been together for nineteen years. Eddie is an ebullient, energetic man whose motto is “Be a live wire – then nobody will tread on you”.

    The outcome of the EU referendum was fairly close, considering the disparity of resources between the two campaigns with the considerable influence of the Church behind the pro EU lobby. For all the sophistication of the methods and the glossy literature, I think one rather crude, scruffy, photocopied sheet may have tipped the balance at the finish. It simply asked the question “ARE YOU EUROPEAN OR AFRICAN?
    It was very widely circulated and, of course, proposed a completely false “either -or” question. In spite of their close contacts with North Africa and the Arabic roots of the Maltese language, there is no doubt that most Maltese people feel themselves to be European and the influence of Italian culture and of the Roman Church are very strong. It was part of the success of the “Yes” side to conflate Europe with the EU in people’s minds.

    • IanPJ says:

      ES,
      I agree, and just as any referendum it very much depends on the wording.

      It is difficult for the Maltese in this context to establish just who they are, neither here nor there, and is reflected in their language, Malti, being a mix of Italian and Arabic stemming back many centuries. It is much the same for those states who bear the double headed eagle in their national emblems, symbolic of looking both ways to the eastern and western empires as the Roman empire split, a state of affairs never fully resolved.

      Lets face it, the Soviet Union was never able to unify them, so I see little in the near mirror image of the EU that will ever overcome those national differences and distrusts, and as we know any empire that is borne out of compulsion will eventually have to revert to force to keep itself together.

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