Going round in circles

▪️ Going round in circles ▪️ Metsola’s historic and crucial tax ▪️ Sickening

The migration issue is a thorn in the butt for the European Union as it seeks to appease the growing number of extreme right-wing elements within it. While these clamour for more drastic action to halt “the Islamic invasion of Christian Europe”, EU top hats talk deceivingly about funds, cooperation, and integration.

It is why there has been no real solution to the problem after agreements, jovially announced pacts, presumed action, handshakes, group photos, and threats. Going round in circles while desperate people die in mid-sea tragedies and political ultras add on the frontier barricades. Recent reports of the horrendous treatment of immigrants by Croatian police are just the tip of an iceberg that is bigger than the continent itself. 

The crux of the matter is that those Member States which have, all along, refused to play a part in the rescue and taking in of immigrants and refugees continue to do so, while other brotherly Member States at the periphery of Europe continue to carry the brunt. Right-wing Europe is having its temporary fun and glory, with Giorgia Meloni in Italy quickly making a deal with her Albanian counterpart – his eyes fixed on prospective EU membership – to take thousands of immigrants rescued by Italy.

But while singing hallelujah, the Italian media, always a right-wing buttress, still seek to paint the blackest picture of the immigrants living in towns and cities along the peninsula. It is not to say there are no problems with criminal segments of those immigrants from all over Africa and Asia, but it is the typical lack of enthusiasm for drastic action on the part of both the Police and authorities that things have been left to rot to this extent.

Then you get this shrill-a-second presenter of ‘Fuori dal Coro’ on TV bringing up cases with obvious gusto, weekly adding fuel to people’s exasperation with the whole situation. No one enjoys having criminals threatening everyone in the street or piazza nearby, being left homeless because immigrant squatters have taken possession of their place while they were away to work or shopping, robbed in broad daylight, and drug trafficking throughout the day. But the whole scene is exaggerated in such a way as you’d think the whole of Italy is paranoid about going down into a massive sinkhole.

In Malta we’ve had our own glimpses of such events and there may still be some more of them occurring, as we often see in reports from the law courts, but we have thankfully seen the police take the necessary action to nip it all in the bud. Today we have a manageable situation, abetted by the government’s migration policy that is based on justice and swift action where needed. That more immigrants were sent back to their places of origin or other EU members states than coming in is proof it can work.

The term “integration” is often used across Europe. Here I embarrassingly sway slightly to the right in recognising the process of integration has not really been working as one hoped. Paris and other cities have large immigrant communities that, while enjoying the social benefits that Europe provides, refuse to consider themselves a part of that society, at least that with no neo-fascist tendencies, seeking to integrate with them. So, you even get violently controlled no-go areas and the imposition of religious and even linguistic conventions. Islamic immigrants in the UK, particularly Birmingham, regularly call for sharia law to be accepted as an alternative!

Again, our puny size and the efficiency of our authorities have spared us the misery, give and take a few exceptions involving lone individuals from the immigrant community. In such cases, deportation is always a better alternative to having them fed, bedded, and eased back into an anxious society on tax-payer money.

It is hard to imagine a different European scenario in the next few years. The forthcoming EU elections will quite possibly strengthen the brawny arms of right-wing fanatics, such as has happened in the Netherlands, with the migration issue left shelved on the clustered European cupboard of promises. But don’t be surprised to see more pacts, more meetings, and more group photographs.

Metsola’s historic and crucial tax

Complicated by current Red Sea events, this whole Emissions Trade Scheme (ETS) issue seriously harming the European maritime sector is another symptom of the European Union’s tendency to opt to austerity and taxes when the need arises. The 2007-2008 financial crisis, as most people remember, turned into an international nightmare. People lost jobs, investments, and insurance policies thanks to the advice of big Member State ministers of finance and their banking and institutional colleagues, a few years later leading to a quick Troika-inspired exit for Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek minister who objected to a firmer German stranglehold of the Greek economy.

Now this new ETS tax, described by the Maltese President of the European Parliament as “historic and crucial”, is predictably hurting all European ports, among them our own Malta Freeport. Container ships which had Malta and other southern European harbours as regular ports of call, now are already skipping them – and Metsola’s tax – by switching to North African ports.

While there have been many Maltese businesses and agents complaining about the tax, even calling for the government to see what can be done, not a single one publicly took Metsola to task. On the domestic front, her party even tried to camouflage it in petty political embroidery. The Establishment works, you know.

Dutiful amendments to the ETS law have been submitted by the S&D Group and other allies, with the Commission being asked to seriously consider them. In the meantime, European ports and their related businesses, can just watch the giant ships sail past.

Sickening

This word only can best describe Germany’s inconceivably one-sided support for genocidal Israel in the current war of destruction in Gaza. Not only is it providing some of its most sophisticated weapons to kill women and children, and destroy mosques, universities, and hospitals, but it has now gone as low as arresting and surrounding by at least half a dozen police an elderly Jewish woman for publicly holding a peaceful sign saying in German: “As a Jew and Israeli: Stop the genocide in Gaza”. Have they not learnt anything from WWII?

Police removing a banner at a pro-Palestinian demonstration at Neumarkt Square in Wuppertal, Germany, on 11th November 2023. Photo: Ying Tang/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Main photo: AFP

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