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    DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL Ralph Cassar has sent you an article from timesofmalta.com. ___________________________________________ Sunday, April 1, 2007
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2007
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      Ralph Cassar has sent you an article from timesofmalta.com.

      Sunday, April 1, 2007

      < Game over >
      by Ralph Cassar

      There are those for whom European Union membership was just another issue like all others, an opportunity to wave the party flag and score political points. There are also people who really knew what the EU is all about: an opening to the continent, not just business-wise. An opening up to shared standards, a shared vision towards a better quality of life where each and every citizen is respected as a 'grown up', capable of taking decisions for himself.

      These people realise that we share our space, our common natural heritage, our liberties with others, with the whole of society. These are the people who expect their decision to join the EU to be respected in practice.

      What is happening? The mentality of the Nationalist government is still fossilised, stuck in the past. Policies? Hardly anything new. Their strategy? Try to avoid and find loopholes in laws and regulations, even trying to put Government above the law in some cases. The rushing through without following proper procedures of some construction projects (what else if not construction?) is a case in point. A European attitude and mentality? Hardly a whiff of it.

      The attitude of Nationalist and Labour MEPs regarding the spring hunting issue is anything but surprising. It is the same old story. All that empty rhetoric about the Nationalist MEPs being part of the largest group in the European Parliament has been shown to be silly, empty and downright pathetic. The majority of the European Parliament voted in favour of a Green motion calling on the Maltese government to abide by EU laws.

      Nationalist MEPs basically parrot the government's position, forgetting that they represent citizens and not a particular government. As usual when push comes to shove, Labour MEPs conveniently chose either to abstain or even vote against the motion. Anyway, hunting in spring is surely on its way out, to the satisfaction of the vast majority of the Maltese.

      Tackling climate change, and in the process ensuring a better quality of life for Maltese citizens, is another area where the government is failing badly - another area where the EU Commission has rapped the government's knuckles.

      Excuses for not investing in renewable sources of energy are the order of the day. Minister Ninu Zammit has practically ruled out wind farms. Can he substantiate his position and claims with figures?

      The government has studies examining the renewable energy potential of the Maltese Islands published by researchers at the University of Malta. What's the use of investing in a university and at the same time ignoring studies carried out by its staff at a fraction of the costs of other commissioned studies?

      Amateurism is the only way to describe the government's approach to energy policy. Even the basic minimum standards when it comes to our power stations are being flouted. This is not a matter of abiding by EU rules just for the sake of it. It is a matter of people's health and quality of life. The EU Commission has once again taken note.

      And at last it looks like Alternattiva Demokratika and thousands of citizens will be proved right. The extensions to the development zones should have been subjected to a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) after all. No, it is not enough for Environment Minister George Pullicino to ask one of his own employees to tell him that an SEA is not needed.

      We are not an absolute monarchy here. The minister should stop trying to fool us. The Commission has sent a "letter of formal notice" to Malta, which means that the opening of infringement procedures is around the corner. In the meantime AD and residents will continue their action in Maltese courts.

      The government must have thought that on joining the EU everything would be business as usual. Change is inevitable. More and more people are realising that a real, true and profound change in the way things are done here is possible. Sure, procrastination is possible. Playing the wait-and-see game is still an option. But at the end of the day it will be 'game over'.


      Mr Cassar is AD's environment and energy spokesman.

      This article may also be viewed at http://www.timesofmalta.com/core/article.php?id=257040
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