23 OCTOBER 2002
The referendum in Ireland appears to have given Maltas europhile lobby a big boost. It came after the Enlargement commissioner Gunter Verheugens lightening visit to Malta.
The former minister within the Socialist Party in Germany was unusually blatant when he answered questions on Xarabank on PBS. He was also reportedly annoyed at the quality of the questions put to him.
But back to referenda.
It is only natural that the Maltese eurosceptics led by the CNI must feel rather depressed. Accusations by the CNI and others indicate that the referenda was manipulated, but the same words were not used when the referendum was held a year ago and the european lobby defeated.
In Malta the surveys are also pointing to a victory for the Europhiles. There is a sense of euphoria and a feel good factor that is overbearing if not downright worrying.
Too much confidence will lead to a warped perception of where the electorate stands.
This is what happened in 1996.
This newspaper upholds the philosophy of its sister newspaper MaltaToday. It believes that this countrys logical destination must be Europe.
We say this because we see no other viable option. We must say that we do not agree with everything that happens in Europe.
But we will emphasise once again, there are a number of considerations that must be factored into the equation of membership.
The biggest hurdle this government faces is the financial package. Burdened with the De Marco promise in the 1998 elections, the Labour Party have made it their mission to remind the public of the Lm100 million that were promised to Malta on accession.
Needless to say, Guido Demarcos Lm100 million is far away from the truth. It was a sad statement that will not be forgotten.
The difficulties do not stop with Demarcos 1998 statement, they continue with well-known perceptions that the purchasing power of Malta is far higher than the real declared income.
Worse still, widespread tax evasion is not contributing in any way in presenting the true image of Maltas financial position and therefore this does not help to justify a reasonable financial package from Brussels.
This is worrying. There are other grey clouds on the horizon.
The financial package promised to Eastern European countries is far more generous. The Brussels technocracy rightly so, sees the Eastern bloc as an underprivileged group of former Communist countries unlike Malta and Cyprus.
This is not good enough and the Maltese government, must continue to insist that the value of the financial package is not a pittance. This is crucial if we are to gain support for European accession.
Additionally, the government must avoid being overconfident unless it wishes to repeat the 1996 experience.