13 - 19 December 2000

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Being nice at Nice

The Nice meeting is over but its ramifications are not. The meeting might signal a disheartening accord for the member states, but that is not the case for small applicant countries such as Malta.

Of course, Labour leader Alfred Sant will attempt in many ways to belittle the Nice meeting declaration, but then Dr Sant is an expert at this game.

And it should not be too difficult for him, with the bustling group of over-60 Europhobes.

Yet, if we look closely at the Nice meeting, we can see with our very own eyes that Malta’s role is not only guaranteed, but is also overwhelmingly represented.

‘IVA’ yesterday issued a statement outlining some of the positive highlights from the Nice treaty.

The general feeling is that the smaller countries have gained, whereas the larger countries have given up some of their representative powers.

So, in the council of ministers, Malta will have three votes - one vote for 120,000 citizens. Germany will have 29 votes, even though this works out at 2.83 million for every citizen.
More mathematics and the extrapolation is simple, Malta’s representative harmony is imploded 24 times; not bad going at all.

And Malta will have its own Commissioner, which is more than the pundits, including this newspaper, expected.

When it comes to the European parliament, Malta has five votes, and if we apply some simple maths once again we can draw the conclusion that Malta has a parliamentarian for every 75,000 citizens, whereas Germany has a deputy for 828,000 citizens.

We could not have hoped for a better scenario, and if that is not all, the Nice treaty has allowed for vetoes on those tricky and touchy subjects such as defence.

One wonders whether Dr Vella will continue to explore the arguments for getting hysterical over military alliances.

Though it has to be said here that the Nice treaty should have been more assertive. And we feel that come enlargement, the Nice treaty will have to be revised to cater for a more efficient super state structure.

We are at the crossroads here, and we should be careful not to miss the wood for the trees.

We will not lose out on nationhood or on an outdated neutrality, but we will gain on other fronts.

What we will gain most from is the economic dimension of Europe and here again we are talking of 500 million citizens.

When put to the test, we will not only prove ourselves, we will also attain new entrepreneurial horizons.

We can only gain from European accession and yes will have to endure some bruises, but the final outcome will be beneficial.

The ultimate truth is that full membership will provide for the pluses in free trade with the reality of funding and streamlining. It will also inject new legislative structures and trends that will make this Mediterranean island more than a simple 320 sq km nation.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt