05 MARCH 2003

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Toon this week: An instrumental vote

Just one little cross away

The Malta Financial and Business Times cannot find words to adequately stress the importance of the referendum vote on Saturday. Much has been said about EU membership and the partnership option suggested by the Labour Party.
There remain some certain grey areas amongst the populous with both options, although the partnership proposal is undoubtedly far more vague.
One fact remains undeniable, however, and it is one that should provide reassurance to the business community.
Joining the EU will mean that Malta will always be under the watchful eye of the other member states. As has been suggested by several commentators, we should never again have to experience the excesses of certain politicians during the late seventies and in the period up to 1986.
That assurance should be of comfort to existing and prospective businesses that need to operate under stable conditions in an atmosphere that is conducive to healthy competition.
The business community needs to know that the same laws and regulations apply to all and that there is a higher body than the Maltese courts can be appealed to.
EU membership, whatever the drawbacks put forth by the opposition, offers those kinds of reassurances.
Joining the EU means Malta will have access to a larger market without any doubts that it will be treated in exactly the same way all the other member states are treated.
There will be no uncertainty about that, something that the partnership option can never guarantee.
The partnership trail is indeed a trying one, and now that Malta has come so close to membership there is no saying how the EU might react should we reject the membership option.
With partnership, even if a good deal is negotiated initially, the terms and conditions could change for the worse, if the EU so decides, and there will be little Malta would be able to do to counteract the state of affairs.
Most of the business community has already positioned itself clearly and squarely in favour of membership. Some of the constituted bodies could have taken an even more definitive stand, including the FOI and the Chamber of Commerce, but it is understood that the reluctance had more to do with a fear of alienating members than with their real conviction.
So much has been said and done about the EU that we will all be very glad when it is over, provided the vote goes the right way. All that is left now is to make that little cross on the ‘yes’ box.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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