Labour MEPs abstain on resolution for stronger NATO relations

Sant abstention: ‘Not right to vote on NATO issues because Malta is neutral country’

Labour MEP Alfred Sant
Labour MEP Alfred Sant

Maltese MEPs Alfred Sant and Miriam Dalli have abstained on a European Parliament resolution calling for stronger relations between the EU and NATO, and a deepening of synergies between the political and military bloc.

The resolution, authored by Romanian MEP Ioan Mircea Pascu (S&D) called for increased EU-NATO operational cooperation and coordination to further mutual support and information on irregular migration, and for direct links between NATO’s Allied Maritime Command and Frontex, as well as between Operation Sea Guardian and EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia, to help the EU stem irregular migration and counter illegal trafficking networks.

Pascu is a former minister of defence.

All three Nationalist MEPs, David Casa, Roberta Metsola and Francis Zammit Dimech, voted in favour. Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi was absent for the vote.

“Since Malta is a neutral country, it is appropriate not to vote for or against issues arising from the relationship between the EU and NATO,” Sant said in a statement. “Secondly the report glosses over the real security and strategic interests of the EU and how they should be defined.”

Sant said there was a vital interest for European nations to harmonise their armament requirements, “if only to achieve scale economies in research and development projects within the parameters of a single market. That would also complement NATO’s defence planning through an easier cooperation between the armed forces of member states of both the EU and NATO.”

“In the absence of a doctrine by which EU security interests gets articulated and defended, the present approach could have continuing unforeseen consequences. It could lead to ad hoc military operations, sanctioned or overseen by NATO, around the EU’s periphery for which the legitimation remains questionable.

“But they would still reflect and affect the EU as a whole. Given the uncertainties that initiatives launched by the Trump administration have provoked, it is hardly wise for the EU to act in ways that could trigger further uncertainties,” Sant said.

The resolution was passed with 441 votes in favour,  182 votes against  and 57 abstentions.

The report was severely criticised by its critics, prompting a hefty defence by Pascu at the end of the debate.

“I did not know that I have to bring something new in this report, because I did not know that this should be considered a PhD thesis. Some colleagues would like to see the novelty and when they don’t, they don’t like it,” Pascu told MEPs.

“I am not a good Samaritan. My life experience up until now indicated to me that practically turning the cheek for another slap is not always the right thing to do, and that’s why I support the EU’s efforts in the field of security and defence.”

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