An exchange of queens; the EU foreign policy implications

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April, 2024 at 10:03 am by Andre Camilleri

As we get close to election day to elect the members of the European Parliament for the coming five years, the European Union also gets closer to the establishment of a new European Commission. A Commission, which will mostly likely be headed by the incumbent president, Ursula Von Der Leyen. Well, an incumbent EU Commission president who has seemingly forged deep alliances with the current president of the EU Parliament. It is obvious that Ursula von der Leyen is trying to push the current President of the EU Parliament to be either her High-Representative Vice-President, replacing Josep Borrell (HR/VP) or for another post within the EU Commission. The proposed split in the duties of the current HRVP Josep Borrell at the EEAS, as well as delivering on the pledge of a new Defence Commissioner, makes much more sense today. It is indeed the doing of the EPP.

Last week I received a call, and the rumour of having an HRVP from the EPP, rather than the S&D speaks of a person who is presently running for a member of the European Parliament in Malta, and who will most likely be re-elected, because she had that role, irrespective of the fact that she has not been very present at home over the last five years. If this rumour holds water, then we understand why it is been declared already by another member of the EU Parliament that they will be voting against the nomination of Dr Fearne for EU Maltese Commissioner. And now we understand why the elevated profile of the EU Parliament when it comes to Common and Foreign Security Policy.

With such rumours one further understands the reasoning behind the prompt, and controversial decision, to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel back in October 2023. A prime minister whose respect for the international rules based order and the rules of engagement has been put into question by some, and shunned by others. All doubt stemming from the numbers of deaths of innocent lives suffered both in Israel and in Palestine. That official visit by the President of the EU Commission and the European Parliament president held in Tel Aviv on 13 October 2023 was indeed a message which we had to read between the lines. For some it will remain one of the most controversial, if not the most controversial, meetings of any person holding a top-job within the European Union. And it is obvious that it was done to weaken Josep Borrell. Now, you may understand why I called them the sisters from Occhi di Gatto. A backroom deal that sent one of the worst political messages during a conflict. Furthermore, we can now understand why the current marathon to collect trophies.

One does not contest that the international community was politically and morally correct to condemn Hamas for the loss of 1,200 Israeli lives suffered on 7 October 2023 attacks, and that solidarity with those who lost their loved ones must be unwavering. However, such deaths do not justify the death of over 34,000 Palestinians. It is indeed a collective punishment. The escalation of a war, should have been prevented, especially in a region of the Middle East known to be quite sensitive due to territorial dispute. A war which escalated further with Iran’s missile strike last week. A war which the international community, including EU institutions, should de-escalate by calling for the exercise of restraint by leaders in their response. We need the exact same calls that we, as Malta, have done within the United Nations Security Council and as OSCE chair-person in Office, because the highest cost of war is being paid by innocent civilians including one’s own innocent lives.

The right of self-defence under international and customary law, as claimed on 7 October 2023, no longer applies because the elements of “a necessary and proportionate use of force against an unlawful attack” no longer apply. The deaths and destruction which followed since 7 October on Palestinian citizens are not necessary and definitely not proportionate. How can a ratio of 1,400 to 34,000 deaths be proportionate? How can deaths of innocent lives, of children, grandparents, parents, sons and daughters be justified?

To this end, I hope that any politician, whether a candidate or elected, recognises that hasty responses for a photo-op, which only gives short-term political points, if at all, should be avoided. And above all, any forged backroom alliances must have a positive effect beyond trade and economics, including the protection of the lives of each citizen. We need politicians representing the citizens at an EU level who listen to the people and act accordingly. Politicians who are ready to call on the EU Commission to act with respect to the powers conferred upon it by the treaties, and to ensure that blurred lines in respect to competencies do not exist. I reiterate my call to boot the current president of the European Commission out, as quickly as possible. And for a matter of fact, I will not bow to any coercion.

Certainly, our citizens need politicians at an EU level who reflect the national interest first and foremost, and who fight tooth and nail for peace. A fight fought by Maltese members of the Socialist Democratic Party over the years particularly on what concerns Malta’s reputation, our national competencies and our fiscal policy. The best interest of our nation is an interest I have fought for in the past, in the present, and one I hope to continue if the electorate gives me the privilege to serve them in the European Parliament.

And what I mean by peace, is simply dialogue as opposed to armaments, which I had the opportunity to write about in last Sunday’s edition of The Malta Independent on Sunday.

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