EU Election Day: What’s Really in it For Us?

Leo Olivero

A few years ago former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said in a speech as he pointed out that the challenges for integration in the EU beyond 2020 was based on three bridges:

First...between north and south especially in the eurozone area

Second...between the UK and the rest of the EU

Third...between the EU and its citizens.... today I would add a smaller fourth bridge...

Fourth...there can be no long lasting integration if you are not an EU member after 2020 and that exactly is what the UK along with Gibraltar is looking at

Entire Brexit Issue is Plain Crazy

Since the Monti speech was delivered, to put it mildly, a lot has happened. Even before Gibraltar and the United Kingdom took part in the 2016 June EU referendum people in the UK, Gibraltar and a number of other EU countries were showing strong signs that Euroscepticism was on the rise across Europe. We knew after June 2016 that two-thirds of the British along with significant numbers of other key EU nations, that all they wanted was power returned from Brussels to national governments.

Three years on from a referendum where 52% of British people voted to leave the EU we are being asked again ‘TODAY’ to vote, this time and extraordinarily so in the European parliament election to select our MEPs for the next 4/5 years. The entire Brexit issue has gone Plain Crazy!

In fact, the whole of the EU, UK, Brussels, Spain, Gibraltar and Brexit matters have turned on its head. Please tell me it’s a joke?

New MEPs Represent Gibraltar How?

Be that as it may, today Gibraltar has been asked to vote to elect those MEPs who by the end of the count will represent the Rock in the next European Parliament. However, the question is “but represent us how, what do they actually intend to do”?

Will this new crop of British MEPs who will arrive into the huge EU parliament chamber with light cabin baggage un hand to take up their seats and theoretically, with one leg inside and the other outside the EU parliament exit door. Will the new British MEPs do anything different to further Gibraltar’s cause in Brussels, something they haven’t been able to manage in the 40 odd years of EU membership with the worse anti-Gibraltar culprit along with Spanish Government, the European Union, causing the Rock more harm even before we have left the EU!

As reflects our size, the Gibraltar voting numbers is minuscule, probably why I am convinced that our individual votes will be lost (not literally) in the on-going British political power struggle, and make a slim marginal difference if any at all. Obviously that’s my opinion and not all will agree.

Gibraltar Voters Will Not be Really Making an Electoral Statement

Unlike most other EU countries, the Gibraltar voters will not be really making an electoral statement based on the performance of its own Government. This happens in most countries come EU election time when the public has an opportunity to register an ‘unhappy vote’ which sends a signal to the respective Government or any other party that the public is not pleased with, which in turn cuts short mainstream parties aspirations of having their own MPs as a member of the Brussels parliament. You can bet today the UK electorate are going to have a field day with both the Conservative and Labour party.

No doubt the local electorate will be busy on EU election, although I suspect not as busy as the previous two EU elections that’s for sure, with many locals disgusted with the EU in the manner they have already jumped into bed with Spain regarding Gibraltar!

People vote according to what has been delivered. I cannot remember anything concrete about any MEP at any time who has really delivered for Gibraltar; there’s been plenty of nice words and supporting gestures, that’s beautiful, but delivering on any tangible issue of importance to the people of Gibraltar...

You Tell Me?

It is my opinion there are many confused local voters who really do not know who to vote for.

I remember one of President Emmanuel Macron’s many comments, regarding Brexit, he said ‘the British were sold a lie. The people had been manipulated into voting for something that did not actually exist’ adding ‘the first losers are the British people’.

Those words by Macron on Brexit were probably correct, the British people were sold a lie, not an entire fib, but near enough. The UK people had been primed and manipulated for the 2016 referendum into voting for something that for all intents and purposes did not exist.

So of course the first losers were always going to be the British people and those here in Gibraltar who practically voted as a united nation, the exact opposite way. But it didn’t help us and neither in my opinion, will our vote today. In fact, this time round we have much less to lose and why I ask again as the title of this report suggests...what’s really in it for us?

Even at This Late Stage ‘May’ Continues to Change the Brexit Goalposts

British Prime Minister Theresa May promised Tuesday to give lawmakers another vote on whether to hold a second Brexit referendum as part of her last-gasp push to get her obviously hated deal over the line. The embattled Theresa May once again dangle a series of sweeteners she hopes can resolve the Brexit and British crisis.

What is clear many observers believe, is that these EU elections will lead to European politics becoming nastier and more unstable, and just at a time when Europe requires stability almost above all else. Most political leaders and finance ministers are of the opinion that they need to tackle threats from the lacklustre and uneven performance of the euro. Mainly because the political instability in some member nations and the many risks that still exist in the banking industry (look towards Spain on this one) could reignite market concerns about sovereign debts, causing the financial crisis to flare up again.

Other issues are the EU fears about immigration, an important issue that is set to continue, as will the widening economic divide between northern and southern European countries.

Right Wing Groups Pose a Danger for the EU

And if the latter point were not enough, there is also EU growing concern especially today, about the march of right-wing extremists across Europe. From France and Britain to Finland, and from Norway and Greece to Hungary, if you follow the news you would know there are parties standing on policies, which are anti-immigrant, and anti-Europe and this obviously concerns the majority of people from a purely EU perspective.

Many fear these right wing groups are likely to win many seats today to the EU Parliament. For example, Marine le Pen of the right-wing Front Nationale in France and others from various EU nations. It’s been suggested, although I am quite sure it will happen, that a significant number of MEPs in the new European Parliament will be committed to blocking, or at least disrupting, the European ‘project’ which is a great Fear of Brussels!

Euroscepticism Locally Went to Another Level After Spain Handed Gib Veto

As I have pointed out earlier Gibraltar has its own historical issues with the EU. Brussels turned its back on the Rock amidst years of hostile, aggressive, unfriendly, and at times illegal and very uneuropean political attitude by consecutive Spanish governments towards Gibraltar and its people. So of course Gibraltar has buckets loads of negative perceptions about the EU. Lines of buckets that get longer everytime I think of the ‘Performance and Demeanor’ of those in Brussels towards Gibraltar.

EU ratings locally have obviously plummeted and our euroscepticism went to another level when Brussels handed Spain the Gibraltar Brexit Veto at the start of the current Brexit process. This continued with the most recent EU deception when they shamefully agreed to change at Spain’s orchestrated demand the Rock’s status to a Colony!!!

I will not vote today for the sake of voting, I must have a fundamental reason to give my vote to someone or cause, quite frankly even today I cannot find one!

So good luck if you’re voting during the course of EU Election Day. Although consider what you’re really voting for - because I am yet to hear what it is and that’s the difficulty that many people like me are having!