“Houston, we have a problem” – John Vassallo
The title of this piece is a well-known quote from the Apollo 13 crew at NASA mission control in 1970. It is quite appropriate to the situation in which three member states of the United States find themselves today. EU.
Imagine that Poland, Hungary and Malta are spaceships flying towards a better future while maintaining contact with the Mission Control Commission in Brussels. They are free-flying objects but linked to their control and command center which they voluntarily joined when they decided to join the EU and benefit from membership.
And yet, despite having received billions of euros in European funds since joining in 2004, these three spacecraft and their populations have encountered problems along the way.
The problems are all homemade and stem primarily from the unwillingness of the three starship captains (their respective prime ministers or ruling parties) to follow the values and principles of the rule of law that the mothership and control stand for. mission in Brussels.
All the other sister spaceships in this epic European journey, many of which are bigger, more powerful, have a longer history of national independence and national pride, all fly in the same journey towards a brighter future. However, the other 24 countries which represent more than 85% of EU members more or less follow these values, principles of the rule of law and obey EU directives.
Poland and Hungary have taken their problematic distance from EU rules because of a newly discovered sense of national independence, lost for 70 years to communism and despotic, inward-looking politicians who are now in charge. They want to take advantage of the billions in development aid that are forced upon them, but want to declare their national sovereignty over mission control rules. They can’t keep doing this.
Malta does not explicitly state that it does not wish to follow the command center, but does so in many subtle and less subtle ways – whether by killing investigative journalists, acting as a tax haven, allowing hunting and bird trapping, cheating on tuna quotas, spending EU funds without open tenders or with fixed tenders, and putting the police and military under direct ministerial supervision .
Either we change course or we will see our European funding suspended– Jean Vassallo
It also places party insiders with the national broadcaster to give all news a pro-government slant and give less than a fair share of airtime to opposition parties or NGOs. Malta also sells EU passports to suspected criminals, putting the entire Schengen area at risk.
These three starships need to be put back on track by mission control so that the 27 starships can continue their smooth journey to a brighter future.
In the real Apollo 13, the mission was aborted and the ship had to return to earth. In the EU mission, the decision of the Court of Justice to authorize the commission to suspend funding for these countries and all other countries / spacecraft that break the rules is a better way to ensure the continuation of the joint mission by forcing stray spaceships to change course.
The ruling only affected Poland and Hungary because their cases are more advanced than Malta’s and because their top courts have explicitly ruled against EU treaties. Malta is not yet that far along this legal path, but there is enough anger in the European Parliament and its patience is running out.
Either we change course and queue for the benefit of all Maltese and the EU in general, or we will see our funding suspended and then the national debt will explode and there will be no more money to distribute or repay that debt.
Our mission, like Apollo 13, can also be aborted and we will all be losers. Our captains must change course, or if they fail, the Maltese crew and passengers will revolt and replace the captains with others more in line with our long-term mission and of course make the necessary course changes.
Otherwise, may God keep us from ourselves.
Roger and out.
John Vassallo, former Ambassador to the EU
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