In defence of supranationalism

I get the idea, misguided though it may be, that a growing number of Maltese citizens feel dejected by the European Union (EU). In fact, according to a recent Eurobarometer survey, less then half of the respondents queried agreed that the EU does not take into account Malta's view. On the same survey it was revealed that illegal immigration is the number one concern of Maltese citizens at this moment in time. Putting two and two together it becomes seemingly obvious that the two issues above-mentioned are closely interrelated.

I have seen many comments, ranging from the extreme ("EU dictators") to the more moderate ("we are being neglected"), expressing the current sentiment of the Maltese citizen and his/her relation with the EU. The growing populist appeal of ultra-nationalist and far-right organizations are also a case in point. We are witnessing a scenario in which grossly irresponsible statements advocating the suspension of international obligations are also gaining popular appeal. It is worrisome that such sentiments are exploited for purely political convenience.

Clearly something needs to be done. I personally support greater enhancement of the supranational structure of the EU. The elitist, secretive inter-governmental decision-making and political back-scratching will only contribute to more and more people looking down on the EU project. A number of people have expressed the belief that 'we need more of Europe, and not less' and I am inclined to agree. If the competences over matters of asylum and immigration were wholly incorporated on a European level we would probably not be in this mess today. As things stand, representatives of individual Member States have an ultimate and final say on whether to aid our country or not. Therefore, a foreign minister representing a right-wing nationalist government would probably be far less inclined to accept immigrants detained in Malta. He or she would probably reject any plea for assistance.

Much of this could (admittedly, not necessarily) be avoided if full co-operation on immigration and asylum affairs was wholly adopted at a supranational level and bringing the Union closer to the people. We are either a members of one team or individual players fending for themselves. It is somewhat ironic that committed nationalists (not to be confused with PN) who advocate with such conviction 'less of Europe' as a solution the problem are actually inviting the problem to be compounded.

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