Next Generation Europe – John Vassallo

We have just seen how right French President Emmanuel Macron was in his determination to revise the EU treaties by eliminating the remnants of post-war nationalism, the veto.

That 27 countries, and soon possibly more than 30, should be restricted in essential areas like foreign affairs, defence, taxation, health and enlargement by a member’s veto is absurd these days. After all, all the countries that are part of the Council of Ministers and the European Council, the decision-making bodies of the EU, are there because a majority of their citizens elected them to power.

They are not there because no citizen applied a veto. A democracy by its own definition is majority rule. We apply this in our own countries, so why shouldn’t we apply it when we transfer our sovereignty to a bigger body like the EU?

In order to be able to compete with China and the United States or Russia in the future, the EU must be able to speak on all subjects with the strength of 27 or 30 countries which together have the highest GDP in the world and with (once Ukraine, Scotland, Macedonia and others are allowed to join) over 500 million citizens.

That a country like Hungary or Luxembourg can oppose its veto and stop an action decided by the representatives of these 500 million will only lead to the break-up of the EU. When it was launched, the world was a different place and the European project was the largest peacetime project in the joint economic and political action of independent countries that had fought several major wars with each other for centuries. “Never again” was the motto that animated the founding fathers.

Now that we have a terrible, savage and inhumane war on our continent, fears of a breakup of the EU are taking center stage.

Yet when the Conference on the Future of Europe ended last week and proposed the removal of the right of veto over existing reserved areas, Oops! Who jumped up and joined the ranks to maintain the status quo? Unfortunately, we find our own country in the protest group. I am not surprised by Malta’s position. Malta has always been a leech within the EU, taking funds and aid, but constantly defrauding other members with its tax system, ship registry and luring oligarchs and criminals into becoming citizens of the EU by selling passports.

With Malta, surprise, surprise, we find 10 countries which joined Malta in 2004 or later as well as Denmark, Sweden and Finland which joined in 1996 only a few years before Malta. None of the six founding countries of the EU is opposed to the reform of the treaty. Only countries that fear losing funding for violation of the rule of law or migration or being forced to join the euro or for other reasons of national interest are against the change.

None of these countries believe that Europe is working to change the world through economic and trade measures or to force the rest of the world that wishes to trade with us to follow fair social and employment rules, to follow to compete fairly or to implement climate change measures to save the planet is worth giving up a national interest.

The 21st century, which is soon past a quarter of a century, will be the century of a battle between “liberal and market economic, socially and ecologically responsible legislative systems” and the “ultra-liberal systems” of countries like the United States that is solely market-driven and lacks general health care systems or equal treatment for all Americans of any race or color and the “autocratic, quasi-communist systems” of Russia and China where information is controlled and workers are treated like flies.

Our system must prevail in the medium and long term. It is in the lives of our children and grandchildren. The EU acting as a force for good, together, is our only hope. The veto and its defenders are turning from loyal Europeans to fifth columns to autocrats in China and ultraliberals in the United States.

To fight for the veto is to fight for the end of the EU– Jean Vassallo

This is the dilemma facing Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the other 14 member states. Remove the right of veto and create the final act envisaged in the 1957 Treaty of Rome of a perfect Union of independent countries able to speak, act and work together democratically taking all decisions in some form majority or qualified majority of States and populations is the only way forward. Without this change, we are doomed.

What keys does Macron hold? On the Nordic countries, he has the key to NATO. They are now afraid of Russia and want to join NATO. They tried to stay away from NATO to appease a Russia that seemed to be getting closer to us after Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin but now faces Vladimir Putin who seems more demonic than “RasPutin” before him. These could be persuaded by Macron.

The former eastern countries of the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Poland and the Baltic States fear a dilution of their newly regained national sovereignty after 70 years of Russian occupation. However, the war in Ukraine and the four million refugees in Poland could change his mind about deepening relations with Brussels.

Malta and Denmark are the only ones to protest against the treaty change for purely greedy reasons. Without EU membership, we would not have been able to develop our economy as we have. By skimming the system, by deceiving our fellow Member States who pay the funds we receive from their taxes.

We only protest out of greed. We have no principles and this was amply expressed in our response to the Ukrainian President’s request for Russian oil on ships flying the Maltese flag and calling the occupation a ‘conflict’ or in our blatant refusal to heed calls to the aid of refugees stranded on sinking boats in our rescue zone.

Our attraction to profit outweighs our belief in democracy or the principles of fairness between nations that underlie the EU.

To fight for the veto is to fight for the end of the EU. Viktor Orban and Boris Johnson will applaud any obstacle you put in the way of Europe’s regeneration. Putin and Xi Jinping, Donald Trump and Narenda Modi will all applaud you but our children and grandchildren will curse you.

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Mary I. Bruner