Don’t get me wrong: we’re here to stay and there are many things about Malta, some difficult to describe in words, that I absolutely love. While the UK just does not cut it in these aspects of family life.
However, it is apparent to me that absolutely no coherent thought has been put into a range of administrative policies to do with everything that governs our daily lives. Transport, building policy, environmental policy, law enforcement, consumer protection, an effective justice system …
Overriding all these deficiencies is my realization that the vote to join the EU more than ten years ago did not translate into a serious attempt by successive administrations to engage with the founding principles of the European union. It is as if the powers that be believe their own sales talk, as if they truly believe that there are just perks to do with being in the EU but no responsibilities. Or maybe they just do not care and the system does not help them to care. As long as they get the votes.
This is not to say that there are other EU states that do not have tense interfaces with the perceived overbearingness of the EU. You are always reading about them. However, what makes Malta stand out, in my opinion, is that Malta seems to always be reactive rather than proactive in handling this important national / EU interface.
No thought whatsoever, it seems to me, was put into making sure, for example, that the fundamental principle of freedom of movement and the right to treatment equal to that of host nationals was respected.
There are many EU nationals residing in Malta who would vouch for this illegal behaviour where freedom of movement is concerned: more expensive utilities, deposits for telephony accounts, banking discrimination, discrimination by the justice system …
An example of this is how the definition of ‘tourist’ in the Malta Travel and Tourism Services Act clashes with the Free Movement of European Union Nationals and Their Family Members Order.
This is the definition of ‘tourist’ in the Malta Travel and Tourism Services Act: "any person who travels to a place other than that of his usual environment for less than twelve months and who stays at least one night in the place visited";
This is an extract from the Free Movement of European Union Nationals and Their Family Members Order: "Subject to the provisions of this Order, a Union citizen may enter, remain and reside in Malta, seek and take up employment or self-employment therein, and shall enjoy equal treatment with Maltese nationals within the scope of the Treaty, and such right shall, subject to what is stated in this Order, be also applicable to other family members accompanying or joining the Union citizen, including those who are not nationals of a Member State, and to the partner with whom the Union citizen has a durable relationship"
Is this a clash between Maltese law and EU law?
In my opinion, it is.
Some EU nationals have been asked to prove that they have been resident in Malta for over a year. Other EU nationals have reportedly been charged VAT on their rent because they were classed as tourists for their first year of residence in Malta. Even when they have been employed, self employed or financially self sufficient.
So, is Malta going to be reactive or proactive? Will it just wait until the inevitable infringement is handed down or is it going to do something about this?
How I wish.