Please fill this field
Alfred SANT Alfred SANT
Alfred SANT

Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament


Malta - Partit Laburista (Malta)

Date of birth : , Sliema

Written explanations of vote Alfred SANT

Members can submit a written explanation of their vote in plenary. Rule 194

EU Trade Policy Review (B9-0370/2020)


I have voted in favour of this report.
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains and exposed the EU dependency on non-EU sources. The EU trading bloc has been more than put to the test. Tensions with China and the US could be eased given the change of administration but are not likely to go away overnight.
In the middle of this uncertainty, the EU cannot be only doing damage control.
Greater resilience can merely be built through stronger cooperation with our partners, promoting the euro as the main trading currency. Providing for a full and transparent inclusion of civil society and trade unions, a functioning multilateral trading system, paired with trade agreements, still has proved up to this date to be an effective way to not only ensure multiple sources of manufacturing but also to promote the international role of the euro.
On another note, global markets are a source of business for SMEs too. Yet their interest in international trade is not taken sufficiently into account when trade agreements are drawn up. An interesting concrete proposal is to suggest that the European Commission should address the issue of the cost for SMEs to comply with increasingly complex trade legislation.
I believe these are essential ways forward.

Objection pursuant to Rule 112: Lead in gunshot in or around wetlands (B9-0365/2020)


One can only agree to the main argument behind the scope of the Commission proposal to replace lead in ammunition. This will bring a wide range of environmental benefits, not only for our countryside, but also to human health, food safety and food markets.
However, the proposal in its current format is fundamentally flawed.
To start with, the proposal removes the presumption of innocence and reverses the burden of proof. A person found in possession of lead gunshot within a 100 metre buffer zone to “wetland” must prove that the ammunition is intended to be used elsewhere than in a wetland or buffer zone. This goes too far and should be revised.
Furthermore, there is clearly a problem of one-size-fits-all approach with the drafting of the definition of wetlands. Malta’s geodemographic structure would mean that these restrictions would go over the scope and original intent of the proposal.
Indeed, such an approach fails to apply the principle of proportionality: the content and form of the action proposed in the Regulation must be in keeping with the aim pursued.
For these reasons, I voted in favour of the Resolution calling for the withdrawal and eventual modification of the draft regulation in its current format.

Stocktaking of European elections (A9-0211/2020 - Pascal Durand)


I voted against the Report on Stocktaking of European Elections because it deviates towards an imposition of a Euro-centralist agenda for future elections.
In doing this, it is ignoring the democratic political traditions and demographic structures of the different Member States forming the European Union.
True, the plenary vote removed some very contestable proposals by the EP’s Committee for Constitutional Affairs such as calls for transnational lists and a change to the one Commissioner per member state rule.
Still, the resolution remained with proposals about which I cannot agree.
In particular, it aims at imposing uniform rules on the establishment of political parties, admission rules for candidates, and voting rights.
Any attempt to ride roughshod over constitutional traditions developed in the course of decades and centuries could be dangerous as it opens up a whole range of manoeuvre for the extreme right to attack and undermine national democratic freedoms.
The Resolution also requests a transformation of the Council into a second legislative chamber of the Union.
This half baked proposal neither fits into the requirements of a federal union nor into those of a European Union which claims to promote unity through diversity.

Sustainable Europe Investment Plan - How to finance the Green Deal (A9-0198/2020 -Siegfried Mureşan, Paul Tang)


I have voted in favour of this report despite some reservations.
Putting sustainability at the heart of investment decisions is essential. In the recent plan for a Capital Markets Union, it was key to ensure that investors would be putting into practice the set of criteria for investments with environmental objectives.
On the public side, governments are expected to build resilient and green infrastructures. Currently, the socio-economic impact of the pandemic has raised concerns that decarbonisation strategies could be jeopardised.
The fact is that, independently from the current circumstances, not all countries are aligned or start from the same point. This is why providing support to public administrations is essential. Reaffirming a strong commitment to the Green Deal is not enough to deal with the reality of the implementation on the ground.
The Just Transition Fund should continue being available to all regions, irrespective of their dependence on fossil fuels. No region should be punished because it could not afford to follow ambitious targets earlier on. One has to be realistic and accompany regions in the green transition, not penalise them.
Similarly, the targets for climate spending should be ambitious, feasible. Better, move forward incrementally than setting target spending that risk being impractical and deepen the existing divergences.

General budget of the European Union for the financial year 2021 - all sections (A9-0206/2020 - Pierre Larrouturou, Olivier Chastel)


I voted in favour of the on the EP Report on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2021because it contains some very important elements.
Some reflect my own amendments, such as the longterm focus on socioeconomic convergence in the EU budget, and the special consideration towards islands within the Connect Europe Facility.
Also essential is the focus on the ongoing situation faced by Europeans due to COVID.
Here I totally approve the special attention given to the hard hit cultural and tourism sectors.
Likewise, I totally support the Resolution’s call for the creation of a dedicated budget line to support the political process in Libya, as well as the multilateral approach adopted in this Resolution towards resolving the Belarus problem.
Yet, I still must regret the emphasis given to the defence and military areas which ignores the position of neutral Member States like Malta.
Colleagues here must not take for granted the support of the EU as a whole to the diversion of investment funds to which we all contribute, away from civilian purposes, and towards defence and military objectives.

Common agricultural policy - support for strategic plans to be drawn up by Member States and financed by the EAGF and by the EAFRD (A8-0200/2019 - Peter Jahr)


The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy remains today a very relevant and much needed tool for European farmers.
Since 2003, a third of EU farms closed down. It is therefore essential that the CAP is adapted to the current socioeconomic conditions of all member states.
Such adaptation has to include the needs of the different landscapes within the EU.
Unfortunately, both the original Commission Proposal on the CAP Strategic Plans, as well as the EP text amending it, fail to do so.
Specific to my constituency Malta, the derogation allowing the allocation of up to €3 million per year of voluntary coupled support remains missing.
Without this derogation, Maltese farmers would face massive drops of essential support that could mean the definite collapse of the sector.
It can no longer be denied that over the long term, EU membership has resulted in a steady erosion of the Maltese agricultural sector.
CAP interventions in Malta should be designed in such a way as to rectify the damage. There is no other way by which they would make sense.
On the basis of these concerns, I voted vote against both the Commission Proposal, as well as the final EP Plenary Report on the CAP Strategic Plans.

The future of European education in the context of Covid-19 (B9-0338/2020)


My vote has been conditioned by the following:
The pandemic has caused disruptions in education systems, exposing an entire generation of young people to huge discontinuities in their learning experience.
The ongoing digital transition in education was accelerated more than existing infrastructures were ready for.
Online classes have confirmed a digital divide among students, related to differences in access to digital devices, the quality of online teaching, unequal personal capacities to learn alone on a computer, and the class divide.
Reports stress that the too rapid switch to digital educational processes occurred in a context where 43 percent of Europeans still lacked basic digital skills. The digital education gap has exacerbated existing inequalities.
There is an opportunity to rethink the future of education but it has to be coupled to the priority of addressing the digital education gap. The European Council’s decision to slash flagship education programmes in the next long-term EU budget undercuts both opportunity and priority.
Moreover, the educational needs of remote and rural areas need to be given greater attention.
Finally, efforts should concentrate on ensuring that in-person learning can resume in a COVID-19-secure environment, in balance with ongoing online instruction, according to the latest best practice guidelines.

Economic policies of the euro area 2020 (A9-0193/2020 - Joachim Schuster)


I voted in favour of this year’s EP Report on the economic policies of the Euro area 2020 because, despite the compromises it contains, the right focus has been retained on a strong social and environmental commitment.
This must guide all our approaches to the major economic issues that the EU is currently facing.
Furthermore, the report covers more than adequately the ongoing pandemic and the impact it is having on the Union’s fiscal and economic governance.
The pandemic arrived at what was already a delicate situation where many were openly doubting whether the ‘old’ fiscal rules, as enshrined in the SGP, still made sense.
COVID-19 exacerbated this dilemma, not least by ensuring that there was quick consensus that at least for a while, SGP guidelines were to be thrown out of the window.
The EU is now at a critical juncture: can it afford to retain and implement existing European fiscal rules on the same basis as pre-COVID?
No. The time has come for a root and branch review, no holds barred, regarding how a new set of simplified, sustainable and more relevant rules can devised by which to promote optimal economic and financial governance within the EU as a whole.

The rule of law and fundamental rights in Bulgaria (B9-0309/2020)


. ‒ For the last six years I have been questioning the legitimacy of this kind of resolution, when applied to Malta’s government for sure, but equally when applied to other governments. If a judgement is going to be applied to any government system, it has to be based on a dispassionate, objective examination. That process does not exist. What happens is, in my view, a polarised, politically skewed method, both at Parliament and at Commission level. I cannot but denounce the political hypocrisy which accompanies the process.
During this debate, we saw an esteemed member of the PPE, who has been at the forefront in blindly fomenting and promoting before this Chamber allegations, strictures and sanctions against the government of Malta, the country which she represents here, light a candle for the Bulgarian Government and present now amendments in defence or mitigation of its position. This is indefensible.
In the circumstances, in full coherence with my stance about a process which I consider to still be a political charade, I had no hesitation to vote against the PPE amendments and to abstain on the final resolution. In no way should this be taken as an explicit or implicit endorsement of what is happening in Bulgaria. To the contrary.

Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee (B9-0310/2020)


I voted in favour of the EP Resolution on the youth guarantee because it is an essential element in the programme needed to provide protection for the future generations of Europe.
Youth unemployment has long been a grave problem in Europe.
It has been an issue in Southern Europe especially, but not only.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problem and is creating huge obstacles for young people when looking for meaningful employment.
The EU’s Youth Guarantee has in the past helped millions of young citizens to make it into the job market.
Given the track record of the Guarantee, the Council should revise its current inexplicable plans to dilute the strength of the guarantee.
Rather, the Guarantee should be reinforced by providing it with the necessary funds from the EU budget while ensuring they are properly spent.
Moreover, in the interest of maintaining the right social conditions around labour markets and while taking into account the current market dynamics, European decision makers should seek to eliminate all forms of social dumping.
The application of stricter rules in this area would serve to enhance job opportunities for European youths.