18 DECEMBER 2002
All for one and one for all
A stark contrast was apparent between European and Maltese newspaper headlines this weekend.
Across Europe the headlines distinctly emphasised that the Copenhagen summit was nothing short of history in the making. This was One Europe, they proclaimed and of the local newspapers, hardly any had words about the financial package, only on the reunification of Europe.
But in Malta the focus was rather different. It has always been about the money, and money was the order of the day for our weekend newspapers. Perhaps we should not be too surprised, since this country and its populace have always been driven by money.
In the end, the deal was far better than anyone had expected.
Dr Fenech Adami looked tired but could not hide his delight at the negotiations result. His chief negotiator, usually stern and tense, appeared relaxed and could not help himself from smiling.
Though in the Maltese psyche the Lm100 million target continues to echo persistently in the background, the inroads made by the negotiating team have effectively erased many of the doomsday scenarios painted by the euro-sceptics lodged in Labour party and other sectors.
This comes despite the fact that the financial package provided by the Commission comes at a time when Europe is still reeling from a recession and economic crisis.
The fact that each and every Maltese citizen will be receiving 170 euros per head is an achievement that should not be undervalued, as it is probably the highest EU contribution per capita receivable by any of the 10 candidate countries. We should also underline the fact that, independent of all the hype of the government bugles, Malta is not a poor country, indeed it is very well off. With 26 million and 10 million from the Italian government, Malta will be guaranteed a financial deal that is both generous and realistic.
Dr Fenech Adami has good reason to look up to the stars.
He has worked against all odds, taking this country from the obscurity of Mintoffianism, through the mediocrity of the Sant government to Europes doorstep. It has not been easy. Despite his ill-health on particular occasions, he has returned, reinvigorated by his dream of leading this country into this One Europe.
In his many speeches he has never relinquished his vision of a Europe of One.
In his teens after the war years he would not have imagined that the wars, the conflicts and the social disorder would pass and this age of prosperity and peace would embrace Malta too.
In 2004, Malta will be at par with all the other countries and wield more influence than ever before. Its citizens will gain, its economy will develop, change and ameliorate. Its democratic structures will improve the social and environmental dimension will improve.
For this to happen, there is no beating round the bush, Dr Sant will have to lead his party to defeat.
Then and only then, will the Labour party warm up to Europe and take up the standard of all social democratic parties and uphold European values.
But at present Dr Sants argumentation is fuelled by an intent to misinform and this guttural hatred for the quest for accession.
Very much in the same way, the Labour party played its role in the run up to Independence in 1964.
The Prime Minister has the support of many middle of the road Maltese. We may not support him on all the issues he deems fit and feasible for this country, but on this he has our undivided support.
He needs to settle once and for the date of the referendum.
Will we have an election too?
We owe him our support but he owes us and this country a date.