Alfred Sant said he will not contest another European parliamentary election as he wants to "make room" for others. 

The MEP and former prime minister confirmed he will be closing his European chapter during an interview with Andrew Azzopardi on 103, which touched on the EU, abortion, and the country's “addiction” to a feel-good factor.  

“When you reach a certain age it makes sense to leave and make room for someone else,” Sant said.  

An MEP since 2014, Sant said he always worked for Maltese interests and not European ones.   

“I always considered myself a Maltese representative, not a European one,” he said. 

Sant said that he never took on roles such as vice president of a parliamentary committee, that would have required him to act in the interest of the EU.

Because of this, Sant saw no conflict in his well-known stand against Malta's EU membership in 2003 and subsequently his election to the European Parliament.

The former prime minister maintained that on balance, Malta lost more than it gained through EU membership.  

“The country did well in sectors where the EU has no competence like tourism and financial services and badly in sectors like transport, agriculture and manufacturing where the EU has a larger say."

Sant, who served as Labour prime minister between 1996 and 1998, said Malta is facing increasing pressure from Europe to change its corporate tax regime. 

Maltese companies are subject to corporate tax at the rate of 35% on their worldwide income and capital. However, the island attracts foreign investment by offering overseas companies a series of rebates and benefits that allows them to bring their tax rate down to five per cent. 

But Malta is facing pressure from the EU and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to change its tax system, proposing a 15 per cent global tax rate on company profits.  

Such a decision would need unanimous support from all member states but Malta is facing increasing “political and moral pressure,” he said. 

This will impact the financial services and gaming sector, which will in turn affect government finances.  

Maltese taxes are low, but the volume of profits still contributes significantly to public coffers, Sant said. 

‘Addicted to feel-good factor’ 

Sant said the country’s “addiction” to a feel-good factor means that politicians are wary of taking tough decisions out of fear of losing votes. 

“If a party makes tough but important decisions, the other party promises to reverse them,” Sant said.  

Describing it as the “Fenech Adami doctrine”, Sant said this legacy has been adopted by prime ministers Lawrence Gonzi, Joseph Muscat and Robert Abela since then.  

As a result, tough decisions on the environment are not being taken because of a fear of losing political capital.  

The government is looking at only incentivising environmental changes but that is not enough, Sant said. 

He said that guaranteeing living wages for exploited foreign workers might stutter economic growth, meaning that votes are lost. 

“The problem for downtrodden (foreign) workers is that they do not have the same power as citizens. They don’t have a vote,” he said.  

Touching on other topics, Sant said he agrees with the PL’s proposed amendment that would allow abortion when a woman's life or health is at serious risk.   

He said that he changed his opinion on abortion over the years.  

“The older I get the more I become in favour of abortion,” he said, adding that his voting record in the European parliament reflected this.  

Of Malta’s six MEPs, only Sant and Cyrus Engerer voted in favour to urge EU member states to make abortion a basic human right last Summer.  

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