Ursula’s passerelle clauses

Last Updated on Thursday, 4 April, 2024 at 11:06 am by Andre Camilleri

The past four weeks were dedicated to security, defence as well as diplomacy. It was not my intention to prolong my narrative about the subject. However, I felt morally and politically obliged to inform the public with the correct technical information when it comes to security and defence. In the end the public is sovereign to decide about the candidates that will be running for the MEP elections. Certainly, the electorate has every right to know the candidates and their views on different topics, as well as their traits when it comes to EU policy and expertise.   

Next week is quite an important week for my campaign. During the past months I have knocked on different doors and roamed different towns and villages to encounter different people. The past year was crucial to understand the electorate and their call to address certain issues that are impinging on their quality of life. Certainly, politicians are here to make a difference in people’s lives. Making a difference means that what is wrong is spelled out and what is right is nurtured to use it in favour of the public. The individual interests of the few must not prevail.  As a European, who grew up in one of the most deprived areas in the 80s and 90s, I can clearly associate with most of the people’s stories. Their stories take me back to my childhood. True, it was a difficult childhood. However, my childhood was never devoid of love and care. My socialist values are inspired from my family’s catholic teachings. They were quite religious. However, the catholic church teachings were in my view socialist principles. They taught us to care for the environment, for the less fortunate, for the abandoned animals and to give more in life rather than to take.

The reason why I will be pledging to work on different themes, if the electorate decides to give me the privilege to serve the country, is to possibly make a difference in people’s lives from the European Parliament. Some people might say that I have spent enough time in Brussels, and what I had to achieve was partly accomplished. True,  one of my greatest accomplishments was to make sure that we do not pay for military and lethal equipment. However, this time it is different. The electorate must choose smartly. They have to evaluate each and every candidate and read between the lines of what politicians are up to within different parties. It is not an easy skill. However,  people are intelligent enough to make this analysis. I realised this trait during the past year. People are quite direct and explicit in expressing their belief or disbelief in the statements made by politicians.

Sincerely, I invite the electorate to read the electoral manifesto of the Greens, the Socialists and Democrats and that of the European People’s Party. For the latter two there is a stark difference. Whereas the Socialists and Democrats speak of defence that comes out of the EU Budget, the European People’s Party speaks of defence differently. The narrative is completely distinct, which surrenders the Europe Union to the logic of going to war. Clearly, I enjoyed reading Dr Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici’s interview this weekend. We are quite aligned when it comes to Common and Foreign Security Policy of the EU. Certainly, we need to depart from the concept of war and move to invest into a more social EU. The upcoming five years are decisive for the European Union and those leading the institutions. As I had the opportunity to repeat for several times, the president of the European Commission must be booted out as quickly as possible. The president of the European Council must undress the Belgian bureaucratic vest and start thinking in a way that unites the Euroepan institutions at every opportunity, while the High Representative must be conferred upon additional say and visibility when it comes to CSDP and CFSP matters.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a debate organised by the Chamber of Commerce. The panel I sat on related to EU funding. My panel ensued the one of Professor Cassola, who outlined that Malta needs additional funding to upgrade its infrastructure. However, when we were debating in the ensuing panel, one of the panellists appealed to dedicate additional funding to companies; increasing the 15% capping that comes out of Resilience and Recovery Plan. When it was my turn to speak, I asked whether we need to focus on infrastructure or other funding dedicated to larger enterprises from the RRP’s pot. Definitely, we must understand what we are talking about when we do such appeals in different debates. The public must know what we are talking about. And those debating must shy away from rhetorical narratives.

The EU Budget and the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) are quite complex to comprehend. I spent almost four years in the Budget Committee in Council, with six months presiding the same budget committee, and even to me, it is still complex to understand certain budget lines. The new Own Resources System, especially now that we have a new Own Resource attached to the amount of plastic that we do not recycle, is also a determinant factor. The way the MFF works is a little complex to summarise it in a debate and a weekly article. The Commitment Appropriations and Payments Appropriations drive the MFF. And any attached programmes, including the agricultural funding depends on the traditional priorities of member states.

What we need to ascertain is to keep our eyes wide open when we have options on the table for any changes in the treaty. However, right now, the president of the European Commission is trying each and every option to bypass the opening of the treaty normally executed through a Convention, reiterating that any reforms can be implemented within the framework of the current treaties. Well, it is true that there are four mechanisms to change the treaty, with the most traditional relating to the Convention. However, the European Commission’s aim, including that of the current president of the European Commission, is to seize the opportunity to partly remove the veto in CFSP by using the passerelle clause. The use of a passerelle clause means there is no need to formally amend the EU treaties, so there will be no requirement for this to be ratified by the EU member states. The European Council would decide by quality majority voting and directs ministers in Council to decide by QMV, especially on certain matters of CFSP. Technically, the EU Commission is only interested in weaking member states’ power on Common and Foreign Security Policy, while setting a precedent for future treaty changes. Well, it is evident that the president of the EU Commission is trying to cut corners by impinging on member states’ sovereignty.

Personally, I do not agree. And I will object to this mechanism, as much as possible, if the electorate gives me the privilege to serve them in the European Parliament. Our veto in CFSP matters.

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