Do you remember the European Parliament electoral campaign? Do you remember one of the favourite tunes sung by the Nationalist Candidates fearful of Arnold Cassola’s popularity at the time? It went something like this:
“You should vote for your PN candidates because once elected they will be in the largest formation in the European Parliament – the EPP – and can use this to Malta’s advantage. Look at Cassola’s party – they form part of the Greens and the Greens do not have as much clout in the EU.”
Yes messirs and miladies, both Nationalist and Labourites were happy to be on the way to join huge parties like the EPP and Socialists in the European Parliament. They would give a bigger voice to Malta. They rubbished the Greens as an insignificant blot that could never advance Malta’s cause.
Fastforward to this week. Hunting and Trapping is the theme. The government is having difficulty appeasing and regulating at the same time. It tends to demonise the EU at convenient points of discussion (vide the slow EU punishment machine) and in this it is backed by savant Euro-MP Simon B. The big part of the opposition is busy equivocating. Trying to get the most from all sides. And we have seen Youth MEP of the Year or whatever prize he has Joseph Muscat rise in Parliament and criticise the supposed funding of Bullfighting (no real funding going on there – the EU funds the food that happens to be fed to the bulls). He claims that it is hypocritical of the EU to severely restrict hunting and then ‘support’ bullfighting.
If you say so guys. The “Simon Says” yarn is beginning to be a bit overstretched. For a long time the goody-good. “I’m not really a politician but a smart academic in the EP” line worked wonders. Whatever Simon Said was true. The line is running a bit thin now. First we had the logical summersaults regarding the application of EU law with regards to the directive. Not that Simon is wrong. Of course not. It’s just that Simon has politically economised with the truth and gives us the impression that all is fine and dandy. “What would you have done?” he asks us… well, Simon… I have a few ideas.
As for Joseph. Pathetic. Once again Labour misses the point and goes at a tangent in its usual desperate hope to pick up random voting sympathies. It makes a mess of this and ends up losing sympathy and credibility.
And this brings me to the EPP’s latest – which should serve as a reminder come next European Elections. Guess which big big big formation in the European Parliament has just tried to shoot down a resolution by the Greens condemning Malta’s decision on Spring Hunting? Well well. No prizes here. You may have guessed well enough that MEPs Simon Busuttil and David Casa proposed (on behalf of the EPP) to take the Green motion off the agenda. Unfortunately (or rather thankfully) it seems that the EPP is not such a big big party after. The EPP motion was shot down 89 to 120.
And in case you are thinking that the Labour MEPs would use their vote a little bit more wisely – John Attard Montalto, the only Labour MEP present – voted IN FAVOUR of the EPP motion. Don’t you just love it?
Now some of you might be saying that the patriotic thing for MEP’s to do is to minimise ‘damage’ for Malta. But here we are talking about bringing to Malta’s attention the fact that it is probably in violation of the directive. This is also part of the EU process that will lead to the possible punishing of Malta. Of course when you have Simon Says, Joseph’s Bull and John and David doing their utmost to slow down the process… you might as well think there could be a reason behind their conviction that the punishment will be a long time coming.
Next EP elections… vote reasonably.
Originally, the issue of spring hunting in Malta was meant to be raised in the form of an “oral question with a debate” scheduled for today. This will still take place, followed by the Greens’ resolution and a vote on it on Thursday.
In his oral question, Mr Libicki, a Polish MEP, says that despite the launching of the infringement proceedings against Malta by the Commission and the recommendations made by the Petitions Committee following a fact-finding mission last May, the Maltese government is preparing to authorise the hunting of wild birds during the coming spring, as it has done annually since it joined the EU in 2004.
Mr Libicki will be asking Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to state clearly “what urgent measures is the Commission planning to take in order to persuade the Maltese authorities to effectively outlaw the practice of hunting wild birds in spring”.
The European Commission last July decided to proceed against Malta insisting that spring hunting is not in conformity with its Birds Directive. The government argues differently and has already stated it is prepared to prove its arguments in front of the European Court of Justice.
(The Times, Tuseday March 13th)