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Corporate DispatchPro

Issue No.18 | March 2021

Corporate DispatchPro The Journal of CI Group

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Issue No.18 | March 2021

Corporate DispatchPro The Journal of CI Group EDITORIAL TEAM Managing Editor - Jesmond Saliba Editor – Nathanael Muscat CONTRIBUTORS Dr Anne-Marie Callus Antony Currie Dasha Afanasieva John Naudi Keith Zahra Robert Cyran Dr Tonio Borg PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Laura Grima Shirley Zammit DESIGN TEAM Matthew Borg Nicholas Azzopardi

CONTENTS Dutch tilt

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March in pictures

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A crack at freedom

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The seasons of a revolution

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The unbroken promise of Libya

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The world springs into action

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Working with Persons with Intellectual Disability through Self-Advocacy

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Malta Insights

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Malta News Roundup

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Children’s rights should be safeguarded during the pandemic

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EU is late on Covid-19 vaccine distribution – European Commission

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Communiqeu 63 Danone CEO exit gives France governance upgrade

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Biden’s vaccine pledge looks too modest

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Antipodean wind deal harnesses three power sources

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SOURCES

Published By

ADDITIONAL SOURCES

Design Produced

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Corporate DispatchPro Cover Story

Dutch tilt In February, Amsterdam replaced London as Europe’s largest trade sharing centre. The Capital had held the title for decades, but a ban on EU-based financial institutions trading in the UK from this year, sucked billions of euros out of London. Brexit was the major driver behind the sudden change, but Amsterdam’s early win testifies to the growing pull of the Netherlands. The mid-size country of 17 million is quickly positioning itself as an influential player in European affairs. As EU leaders were locked in once-in-a-generation negotiations last summer, northern countries tussled with southern countries over the financing structure of the Covid-19 recovery fund while western governments argued with eastern governments over the conditions for disbursements. One figure stuck out in both directions of bargaining: Mark Rutte. The Dutch Prime Minister is Europe’s longest-serving leader, after Chancellor Angela Merkel. He inspired the Dutch liberals to a first electoral win in nearly a century after taking over the leadership of the Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) in 2006. Having successfully navigated the Netherlands out of the financial crisis, the party was the biggest group in the House of Representative again in 2012 and 2017. The Tweede Kamer is a mosaic of parties from across the political spectrum, and its fragmented nature often creates wobbly government coalitions. In January, the Rutte Cabinet resigned en masse after state authorities wrongly accused some 20,000 families of childcare benefit fraud, thrusting the country into snap elections in the third week of March. Despite the children’s allowance scandal and vociferous protests against pandemic curfews in recent weeks, polls suggest that the VVD is on course to a fourth straight win. At the same time,

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Corporate DispatchPro

however, the anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV) led by firebrand Geert Wilders is set to gain seats in the chamber, consolidating its place as the second-largest political force in the country. Parties have banded together to lock the PVV out of power for the last 15 years, but the growing popularity of the openly Eurosceptic setup has pushed centrist parties increasingly towards the right. The ruling party’s electoral programme, for instance, is proposing a quota for refugees as well as a requirement for immigrants to learn Dutch. Early this year, all parties in parliament except for the migrant-founded Denk, voted for a motion to monitor mosques for foreign influence. But the electoral debate is far from monothematic. The coronavirus and healthcare, taxation and pensions, nuclear energy and climate goals, housing and student loans have all found oxygen on the campaign trail in the last weeks. Nevertheless, voters have not exactly been electrified by the contest and a fifth of the electorate was still undecided ten days before the polls opened. Outside of the Netherlands, however, European governments will be watching the election closely. A founding member of the Coal and Steel Community and country with growing clout, the results will send reverberations around the EU as it tries to find its feet from the coronavirus emergency. 5

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UNIQUE CHARIOT FOUND IN POMPEII Archaeologists have unearthed a unique ancient-Roman ceremonial carriage from a villa just outside Pompeii, the city buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD. The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage made of iron, bronze and tin was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana, around 700 metres (yards) north of the walls of ancient Pompeii.

OXFORD STUDY INDICATES ASTRAZENECA EFFECTIVE AGAINST BRAZIL VARIANT Preliminary data from a study conducted at the University of Oxford indicates that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca PLC is effective against the P1, or Brazilian, variant, a source with knowledge of the study told Reuters.

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Corporate DispatchPro STEVEN GERARD’S RANGERS WIN SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE Steven Gerrard’s Rangers have won the Scottish Premiership for the first time in ten eyars, after Celtic failed to defeat Dundee United. Following Rangers’ 3-0 win over St Mirren on March 7 – with fans outside, plus Gerrard and players celebrating in the dressing room – only a Celtic win could delay their rivals winning the title.

AUSTRIA SUSPENDS ASTRAZENECA COVID-19 VACCINE BATCH AFTER DEATH Austrian authorities have suspended inoculations with a batch of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as a precaution while investigating the death of one person and the illness of another after the shots.

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FAILURE IS NOT THE OPPOSITE OF SUCCESS, IT IS A PART OF SUCCESS – ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC AC Milan Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s presence at the Festival of San Remo came to an end on the final evening of the popular festival. In a monologue about success, Ibrahimovic spoke about the importance of looking at mistakes in life as part of the success.

43RD ANNUAL GAY AND LESBIAN MARDI GRAS PARADE IN SYDNEY Participants take part in the 43rd annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade at the SCG in Sydney, Australia, on March 6.

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Corporate DispatchPro EARTHQUAKE AFTERMATH IN GREECE Damaged houses in the aftermath of an earthquake, in Damasi, Thessaly, central Greece, on March 4. A 6.0-magnitude earthquake shook the wider region of Thessaly the day before. At least 30 houses were damaged in the vicinity of Mesochori in the municipality of Elassona, Thessaly.

WHATSAPP ADDS VOICE AND VIDEO CALLING FEATURE TO DESKTOP VERSION Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp has introduced a voice and video calling feature on its desktop version. The company said users will be able to use desktop screens for calls in both portrait and landscape mode, and the calls will be end-to-end encrypted.

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‘MARIA MADDALENA’ BY ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI EXHIBITED AT THE ROYAL PALACE IN MILAN The painting ‘Maria Maddalena’ by Artemisia Gentileschi, is placed in one of the rooms of The Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale) in Milan, Italy for the exhibition The Ladies of Art: Stories of women between ‘500 and 600’. The painting was damaged in the explosion that occurred in the port area in Beirut in August last year. The exhibition traces the art and lives of 34 different artists.

GERMAN EXPORTS TO UK FELL ALMOST A THIRD IN JANUARY AS BREXIT HIT German exports to the United Kingdom fell by 30 percent on the year in January as the impact of Brexit turned Europe’s largest economy away from the UK, exacerbating the hit to business from the coronavirus pandemic.

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Corporate DispatchPro SVEN GIEGOLD BACKS PROCEEDINGS AGAINST GERMANY Outspoken Green MEP Sven Giegold has backed the initiation of infringement proceedings against Germany regarding the implementation of the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

‘THE CROWN’ SWEEPS GOLDEN GLOBES FOR TELEVISION British royal drama “The Crown” and comedy “Schitt’s Creek” won top television honors at the Golden Globes on Sunday in a mostly virtual US bicoastal ceremony that took place under pandemic conditions and a furor over diversity.

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Corporate DispatchPro Editorial

A crack at freedom The angry crowds that filled the streets of Tunisia in 2011 shouted “Employment, freedom, dignity”, a slogan that would echo in other revolts across the Middle East. Soon, that demand transformed into an outright call for state leaders to resign. The dramatic events carried a tinge of optimism and confidence, but ten years later, many observers express pessimism if not utter disappointment at the “Arab Winter” that followed the uprisings. None of the Arab Spring nations has managed to improve its general standard of living and bloody wars in Syria, Libya, and Yemen have created humanitarian crises of historical proportions. Apart from Tunisia, the Spring countries enjoy no more democratic freedoms and no less corruption today than before the revolts. Indeed, the failure to achieve economic stability or a transition to democratic systems has led commentators to question whether the uprisings can be considered revolutionary at all. Popular protests that surged simultaneously in Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Sudan in 2019 gave hope that the flame had not yet died, but it was summarily extinguished by the outbreak of Covid-19. Indicators of success or failure are closely tied to expectations. The rage at leaders displayed by protestors must not be confused with a cry for an alternative Western-style political setup. The millions of people who flooded national squares in the region and occupied official buildings wanted something more basic: decency, fairness, opportunity. The trouble with trying to trace the direct outcomes of the Arab Spring revolts is that it ignores the complexities of societies and the generational shifts that need to take place before the effects of the phenomena can be discerned. It is, perhaps, more useful to think of the spring metaphor in terms of a primed coil that is released multiple times, rather than as one transient season.

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Corporate DispatchPro The story of social development anywhere in the world is dotted with extraordinary events. But while it is tempting to narrate a history by simply joining these dots, true transformation does not travel in straight lines; it meanders aimlessly until it morphs into a new milestone. The period in between one great event and the next is often an uncertain dance moving two steps forward and another one back. The Arab Spring shook the very foundations that had propped up the powerful regimes for decades, but the original demands of protestors suggest that the over-arching issue that mobilised protestors was socio-economic stagnation, not the system of governance. Even as it remains an unfinished project, the Arab Awakening teaches that freedom is not the removal of autocracy but the establishment of equity. JESMOND SALIBA

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The seasons of a revolution The popular revolts that raged across the Arab region in 2011 were a turning point, but the direction of change varied from country to country. Dr Tonio Borg, Malta’s Foreign Affairs Minister at the time, reflects on the events in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya from a Euro-Mediterranean perspective. THE UNCONTROLLABLE SPREAD OF THE UPRISING Many observers were surprised that the Arab Spring started in Tunisia, which had the more liberal policies in the region and maintained good relations with the EU. But the uprisings quickly spread to Egypt and Libya, where the environment was completely different. Egypt, a vast country and the host of the Arab League headquarters, is widely considered a leader in the Arab world. Neighbours were particularly anxious about the Muslim Brotherhood swooping in to claim the void in power, as in fact happened for a while. Libya – caught between Tunisia and Egypt – was the third theatre of the Arab Spring. Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and I had visited Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi just some days before revolts eventually broke out in his country and the Colonel expressed disappointment that the EU did not back Ben Ali in Tunis sufficiently. Gaddafi argued that, for all their shortcomings, the Arab regimes fended off the proliferations of extremism. FACTORS BEHIND THE REVOLTS The three Arab states were ruled with an iron fist. The strongmen in each country effectively imposed dictatorships on their people with public assets controlled entirely by the state leaders and in Libya the loyalty of the armed forces directed towards the heads of state personally. In the weeks and months following the revolts, obscene 17

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YOUR PURPOSE IS YOUR BIGGEST ASSET

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Corporate DispatchPro cases of systematic abuse endured by the populations under their rule started to emerge, revealing a dark side to the autocratic presidents. However, the response of the trio of leavers was different. While Egypt’s and Tunisia’s presidents Hosni Mubarak and Ben Ali agreed to step aside and went into exile, Col. Gaddafi sought to crush the revolt. The tide quickly turned against the regime and he was chased out of Tripoli by the rebels and eventually killed in cold blood. DIFFERENT PATHS SINCE THE REBELLIONS In Tunisia, the uprising led to a transition from Ben Ali to a postrevolutionary government, in part thanks to the robust civil service already in place. This does not mean that everything went swimmingly, there were hiccups along the way and deep-rooted reform remains a works in progress. The situation in Egypt took a different turn as a popular second revolution slid the country back to square one, except that there is now another president in charge. The killing of an Italian researcher in its territory in 2016, allegedly at the hands of the secret service, further dampened Cairo’s relations with the West. Libya remains in a state of turmoil, ten years after the removal of Gaddafi. Infighting and violence has thrown the country into a bloody conflict and subsequent governments have failed to extend control over the whole national territory Meanwhile, the destabilisation in Libya exacerbated a migration emergency affecting southern EU states, especially Malta and Italy. A MOVEMENT LED BY YOUNG PEOPLE The Arab Spring was sparked by a lone 26-year-old protestor in Tunisia. Exasperated by an institutionalised and humiliating system of bribery by public officials, Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire outside the governor’s office. The uprising in Tunisia and the Arab region inspired people from all walks of life but young people were right at the forefront. On a visit to Benghazi just after the Libyan revolt began, rebels showed me countless photos of young people who had died in 19

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the conflict attempting to storm the Administrative Centre of the government. There were many young men and, equally, young women leading the charge against the Libyan regime. MALTA IN THE PICTURE Malta is the EU country closest to the region and, over the years, it had developed various business and investment interests with its Arab neighbours. There were also many Maltese people living and working in the territories, especially in Libya. The uprisings presented the greatest foreign policy challenge to Malta since its Independence, and the government at the time struck a delicate balance by avoiding involvement in military missions but offering the country’s capabilities for humanitarian operations. In fact Malta became a base for evacuations as foreign governments started taking their citizens out of the region. Three major operations were the decampment of the US Embassy in Tripoli, the relocation of Libyans trapped at the border with Tunisia, and the evacuation of hundreds of Chinese workers working in Benghazi. 20

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Corporate DispatchPro AN UNFINISHED PROJECT The Arab Spring has not fulfilled its potential, but it was certainly not a failure and the events were an important stage in the region’s development. At the same time, however, countries in the West should be careful not to expect Arab countries to establish democracies in the mould of continental or Anglo-Saxon states. Arab nations have their own systems and longstanding cultures, and while the international community has a responsibility to keep its engagement with the countries, it must also respect the social course of action without prejudice or any condescending approach . The revolutions have lifted the lid on structural problems in the region, but the next step is now for the countries to grow strong institutions that address inequalities and promote freedom and justice. Tonio Borg is a former European Commissioner and a former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta. He is resident senior lecturer in public law at the University of Malta. Tonio Borg LL.D. Ph. D. K.O.M.

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Corporate DispatchPro JOHN NAUDI

The unbroken promise of Libya ‘Democracy!... Stability!... Prosperity!’. These were a few of the buzz words used by many when the political uprisings and widespread protests erupted in 2011, known as the Arab Spring, and had shaken the entire North Africa region. History today tells us that the uprisings across the region did succeed in toppling the dictators in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. The reality however is that they have produced only modest political, social, and economic benefits for some of the region’s population. Only Tunisia has experienced a relatively peaceful uprising followed by some changes. Egypt’s uprising, on the other hand, failed miserably, resulting in a military coup. For many Maltese entrepreneurs, Libya was an automatic growth opportunity, a country which offered immense potential, and a country which many invested substantial amounts of time and money in developing. Business before the 2011 uprisings grew at a steady pace. Many believed that the country’s vision and leadership was changing with the potential of booming in the same way the UAE did a couple of decades before. When the uprisings started in Tunisia and Egypt, very few people believed that this could expand into Libya. Everyone was wrong! The 2011 NATO-led operation in Libya succeeded in removing Gaddafi. It failed to establish stable political institutions in the country. Libya steadily fell into conflict fuelled both by internal contradictions underlying the rivalry of various political-military forces as well as external interference by regional and international actors pursuing their own economic and politicalstrategic interests. Since then, hopes of democracy, stability, and prosperity have been elusive in Libya. In many respects, the country is considered a failed state that cannot exercise nation-wide

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Corporate DispatchPro authority with competing forces claiming to rule the country. Libya is well known to have substantial fossil fuel resources which to date have remained untapped and many leading world powers have or want to have access to part of this. Libya has been a significant producer of crude oil since the early 60’s. With a relatively small and young population, and major annual oil revenues, amounting to over 30 billion in 2010, Libya offered great potential. During Gaddafi’s 42 years in power, Libya experienced a lack of transparency, inefficient state institutions, widespread corruption. Its oil wealth was mismanaged, leading to the underperformance of its economic potential. This was severely aggravated following the revolution.

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Corporate DispatchPro In 2011, the rebels united to overthrow Gaddafi’s regime. Their loose alliance fell apart as the different groups pursued various agendas. They distrusted each other for political and economic interests. This led to significant, unintended consequences, generating regional turmoil, massive civilian displacement, and an environment conducive to terrorism and extremism. Today, Libya is fragmented and polarised, caught up in instability and insecurity. A few consider Haftar and his LNA to have been one of the obstacles to the reconciliation process in Libya, as they have attempted to impose their rule on the country. Libya continues to suffer from a political and economic crises, which weakens state institutions by damaging its economy. The North African country has not only descended into violence and social breakdown but has also come to be influenced by numerous militia groups, who many believe have taken advantage of the political instability as the post war period presented huge business opportunities. Since August 2020, rival Libyan parties to the conflict have signed on a ceasefire. This return to the negotiating table has increased hopes of reconciliation and resulted in the lifting of the oil blockade. The truce is widely regarded as a move toward broader political negotiations and a way out of the conflict. However, the risk of renewed violence still exists. The current reconciliation talks under the UN sponsorship have contributed to increasing optimism for a viable, inclusive, lasting, and peaceful political settlement. The need for security and stability might encourage the majority of Libyans to engage in the process of peace and to support paths of reconstruction and development in the country. The world is waiting, and once the Libyans move forward, other nations will be there to support and assist them in developing further this gem of a country. John Naudi is Executive Chairman of PB Group.

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The world springs into action The Arab Spring was the most significant change in the Middle East and North Africa region since the Sykes-Picot Agreement, just over a century ago. And like the controversial border arrangements, the uprisings have sucked in the international community. The mass protests in 2011 caught the US in the middle of its pivot towards the Asia-Pacific region. America was a long-time ally of the authoritarian regimes which suppressed militant Islamism, but when the revolts broke out, the Obama administration threw its weight behind the protestors. The move intensified the internationalisation of the crises, pulling in Russia, China, and, to some extent, the EU. Moscow went in with a direct military intervention, particularly in Libya and Syria. Cynics initially argued that the aggressive foreign policy line was a decoy by President Putin to deflect attention from domestic challenges, but the engagement has since made Russia a key player and turned the region into a bargaining piece on other global diplomatic issues. China veered away from force and has, instead, sought to build deeper, longer-term ties with the countries in the region. It established dialogue infrastructure such as the China Arab States Cooperation Forum and uses the Belt and Road Initiative to influence strategic relations in areas related to energy, the economy, security, and culture. The European Union has a less defined or unified approach, but the flow of migration both from Middle Eastern and sub-Saharan countries has decisively shaped its internal and external policies over the last decade. Governments in member states, however, mainly France and Italy which have historic links to North African states, have been proactive in pursuing political stability. 29

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Corporate DispatchPro The geopolitical rivalries between world powers are mirrored among the MENA countries too and the revolts triggered further nationalistic and sectarian competition within the region itself. The events intensified the antagonism between Iran and Saudi Arabia, spilling into a catastrophic proxy war in Yemen. Meanwhile, Turkey saw an opening at claiming leadership of the Islamic world and has extended its reach well beyond its frontiers with Syria. Another fault-line running across the region is the division over the Muslim Brotherhood. This arena of instability developed into an incubator of international terrorist networks, most notably the brutal ISIS group which committed to carve out a new transnational caliphate. The years following the revolutions have tipped the region into turbulence, and where conflicts have abated, new autocrats have clawed their ways into power. The struggles of ordinary citizens have all but drowned in the chaos of geopolitical interests, leaving a generation of Arabs worse off from when they dared to demand more control over their own lives. The Arab Spring is holding on to the promise of a full blossom. It is now time for the international community to decide which camp it sides with, the oppressors or the oppressed.

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Corporate DispatchPro DR ANNE-MARIE CALLUS

Working with Persons with Intellectual Disability through Self-Advocacy In a crowd, in a street and in most community settings, persons with intellectual disability are conspicuous and absent at the same time. They are conspicuous because having a cognitive impairment is often (though not always) accompanied by particular physical features that mark a person as someone with an intellectual disability and because, in turn, the label ‘intellectual disability’ unfortunately still evokes extremely negative connotations. They are absent because persons with intellectual disability still encounter significant hurdles in their bid to be active participants in their community ‘on an equal basis with others’ as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations 2006) requires. Working with persons with intellectual disability therefore entails striving towards the removal of disabling barriers and towards enabling them to be accepted for who they are. It is important to point out that this work is done with persons with intellectual disability and not simply for them. This approach is in line with the slogan of the disabled persons’ movement ‘nothing about us without us’ (Charlton 1998), a slogan which speaks to the need for persons with disability to be the ones in control of their own lives and to be actively involved in decisions concerning them. For persons with intellectual disability, the principle underlying this slogan is best realised through self-advocacy, and it is in this area that I have carried out a lot of work over the past fifteen years. Broadly speaking, self-advocacy means speaking for oneself and being directly involved in decision-making processes that affect one’s life, whether directly or indirectly. For persons with

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Corporate DispatchPro intellectual disability, it means being provided with support to be a self-advocate. Such persons often need support to be able to understand information that may be too abstract or complex for them to process unaided. They may also need support in understanding the pros and cons of different choices, in appreciating the practicability of implementing some decisions, in weighing the consequences of different choices, and in discerning what is the best choice for them in any given situation. They may even need support in reflecting about their will and preferences and in articulating these in a clear and assertive manner. Finally, they may also need support in implementing a decision, which may range from something practical – like being given a lift to and from home – to more complex courses of action – such as dealing with the negative outcomes of a decision that the person had taken. Consequently, for persons with intellectual disability

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In this type of group, the committee members are persons with intellectual disability, who are provided with support to conduct meetings, to take decisions and to act on them. self-advocacy very often entails being provided with support by someone who can guide them through these different processes without ending up taking decisions in their stead. The most significant community-based work that I carry out in this area is that of being a support member of a self-advocacy group. In this type of group, the committee members are persons with intellectual disability, who are provided with support to conduct meetings, to take decisions and to act on them. I do this work through Grupp Flimkien Naslu, a group that I had helped set up in 2004 and which I still support. Over the past sixteen years, the group has offered opportunities to make friends and to socialise, for members who have an intellectual disability as well as for support members. These relationships continue to grow outside the group as well and the group members often seek out support members when they need help in their everyday lives. Support members are uniquely placed to act as mentors, advisors, or simply as friends because they are not related to the person with intellectual disability and do not work with them in a professional capacity. Community engagement is not only about academics lending their expertise in areas of community development that are relevant to their work, but also about ensuring that the voice of those living particular realities in their respective communities is also heard at the university.

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Persons with intellectual disability are experts by experience (Care Quality Commission, 2020) and it is important that they are supported to make their voice heard in different fora. My work entails co-lecturing with speakers with intellectual disability on self-advocacy and conducting inclusive research. The latter involves doing research with persons with intellectual disability as co-researchers, thus supporting them to actively participate in the

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whole research process from choosing the research topic through to conducting the research and disseminating findings. As a supporter of self-advocacy work, I am aware of potential pitfalls. I have sometimes erred too much on the side of caution by assuming that a person with intellectual disability needs support in something that they can do on their own. And I have sometimes erred on the other side – assuming a person can understand something when in fact they need support. Self-reflexivity is therefore particularly important and an essential part of the process of reflection on one’s own role as a self-advocacy supporter is listening to the person. I find my involvement in self-advocacy work very fulfilling. It enables me to put to good use all that I have learnt and taught along the years about the best ways of removing disabling barriers for people with intellectual disability and about promoting their empowerment. It

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Corporate DispatchPro also enables me to witness just how much a person can flourish when they are given support. And it has enabled me to learn much about life from the perspectives of persons who have different life experiences. My dream is that we create a world where the absence of people with intellectual disability in the mainstream of society becomes conspicuous, and the conspicuousness of the negative connotations attached to label ‘intellectual disability’ are absent. References: Charlton, J. (1998). Nothing about us without us: Disability oppression and empowerment. Berkeley: University of California Press. Care Quality Commission (2020). Experts by experience. Available from: https://www.cqc.org.uk/about-us/ jobs/experts-experience United Nations (2006). Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and optional protocol [online]. Available from: https:// www.un.org/development/desa/ disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html

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SIX IN TEN TERTIARY GRADUATES ARE WOMEN Women made 57 percent of total tertiary education graduates in 2019, up from 55 percent in 2017. Data published on the International Day of Women by the National Statistics Office shows that female students outnumbered males in all fields of study except for Information and communication technologies and Engineering, manufacturing, and construction. The fields of Education and Health and welfare have the highest proportion of female students, at 79 percent and 73 percent, respectively. With regards to employment, women made 40 percent of the active workforce in 2019, just under 102,500. There were more female workers in Clerical support occupations and Service work including sales while males made more than six in every ten employees in Elementary occupations, Plant and machine operation jobs, Technical and associate professions, and management positions. Professional occupations were split down the middle, but the average annual basic salary for women in this area is more than €4,000 lower than for men. This is a common pattern across all occupations with an average overall salary of €17,771 for women and €20,974 for men, according to 2019 figures. 41

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Corporate DispatchPro Malta ranks 4.5 points below the EU average on the Gender Equality Index, scoring 63.4 out of a possible 100 measured by 31 indicators. Sweden ranks first with a score of 83.8 while Greece registered the lowest score at 52.2. There were 248,802 women in Malta as at December 2019, equivalent to 48 percent of the total resident population. Just over 40,000 were in the 30-39 age group, the largest cohort by age. Men outnumber women in all age brackets up to 60, where the population of women is higher. TOURIST NUMBERS IN JANUARY A TENTH OF LAST YEAR Total inbound tourism in January was estimated at around 13,800, a decrease on 90.8 percent compared with the same month last year. Data by the National Statistics Office show a total tourist expenditure of €11.7 million, down from €123.6 billion in January 2019. Eight in every ten visitors were from EU countries while two-fifths of non-EU tourists arrived from the UK. France was the largest market, with 3,292 visitors, followed closely by Italy with 3,233.

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Corporate DispatchPro Half of the guests were within the 25-44 age group which, at an 88.4 percent decline, suffered the lowest decrease year on year among all age brackets. Just over 83 percent of visitors came to Malta for holiday purposes and another 1,553 were on business trips. The total number of inbound tourism by air reached 12,123, less than a tenth of the volume registered in 2020. CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERTS DISAGREE OVER INTERPRETATION ACT REFORMS A number of constitutional experts have critiscised proposals by government to amend the Interpretations Act in order to give more direct power to its regulators and other agencies in dishing out penalties to individuals and business in a number of regulator sector. The government’s move appeared to be related to Constitutional challenges being brought forward against substantial fines imposed in the area of anti-money laundering. The closeness to an expected judgement by Moneyval was also highlighted. The Constitutonal experts pointed out that the European Convention on Human Rights states that in the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.

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SUPPORTING SMEs, INNOVATION, INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIAL INVESTMENT

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Corporate DispatchPro GDP FELL BY €770 MILLION IN 2020 Gross Domestic Product for last year amounted to €12.8 billion, a decrease from €13.6 billion in 2019 but still higher than 2018 (12.6 billion). Figures by the National Statistics Office show a 5.7 percent GDP decline in nominal terms in 2020 from the production output side, with a 7.0 percent drop in volume terms. The first quarter was the only to register an increase compared to the previous year (4.0%) before a sharp drop of 13.0 percent in the second quarter. The decrease was 7.5 percent in the third quarter and 5.0 percent in the final quarter. Gross Value Added in 2020 fell by 4.3 percent in nominal terms, mainly driven by a decrease of 6.7 percent across Services. Accommodation and food service activities lost 64.7 percent, the biggest registered decline among Services. At the other end of the scale, GVA in Information and communication activities increased the highest with 13.6 growth from 2019. Besides Services, Agriculture and fishing as well as Industry recorded decreases of 10.7 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively. Construction, on the other hand, reported an increase of 2.9 percent year-on-year. In 2020, net taxes on products contributed to a 17.1 percent decline in volume terms.

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Corporate DispatchPro There were 12,000 unemployed in January, a rise from 10,000 from the same month last year, but level with the final three months of 2020.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE BELOW EU AVERAGE Malta registered the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the EU in January 2021.Figures by Eurostat show that the total unemployment rate in Malta stood at 4.4 percent in the first month of 2021, below the EU27 average of 7.3 percent. Poland registered the lowest rate, at 3.1 percent, followed by Czechia (3.1%) and the Netherlands (3.6%). The highest total unemployment rate was registered in Poland, at 16.0 percent. Lithuania and Sweden recorded the next highest rates at 9.6 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively. France and Latvia are the other two members states to experience a rate above the European average. The data shows over 15.6 million people in unemployment across the EU up from 14.2 million in January 2020. In the euro area, registered unemployed rose by nearly a million over the year to reach 13.3 million, equivalent to a rate of 8.1 percent. In Malta, there were 12,000 unemployed in January, a rise from 10,000 from the same month last year, but level with the final three months of 2020. WAGE SUPPLEMENT EXTENDED The government has announced the extension of the wage supplement until the end of the year, arguing that such a move was required to ensure a strong economic recovery and safeguarding employment. Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said that Government has spent 360 million euro on the wage supplement, equivalent to 3% of GDP. He recalled that the country’s economy saw a 5.7% drop in GDP in nominal terms in 2020, meaning that had government not intervened, the economic collapse would have been far greater. 49

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Corporate DispatchPro

Malta News ROUNDUP The police interrogated former Economy Minister Chris Cardona, following claims that he had met an alleged triggerman in the Caruana Galizia assassination. Cardona confirmed the interrogation but said he was not cautioned. Enforcement officers descended on the site of an underground party after videos by attendees showed a large crowd in breach of Covid-rules. The partygoers quickly dispersed but the person behind the event was identified and will face charges. The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life raised concerns over the detainment of journalists at Castille by government officials in November 2019, accusing former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of breach of the ethics code for the fourth time.

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Seven in ten companies in Malta believe it will take them a year or more to recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic. The survey was conducted by the Malta Employers Association and analysed responses by 200 members. Models suggest that Malta could reach herd immunity by October if vaccination continues at the current rate of around 2,000 every day. For the country to reach the 70 percent immunisation target by the end of summer, vaccination would need to ramp up to more than 2,500 jabs daily. The government announced new restrictions on restaurants and nonessential shops to curb the spread of Covid-19. Schools will be closed until The second week of April and gatherings in public are limited to four persons. The compilation of evidence against brothers Robert and Adrian Agius and their collaborator Jamie Vella started with the testimony of self-confessed hitman Vincent Muscat. The three men are linked to the murders of Carmel Chircop in 2015 and Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. 52

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Corporate DispatchPro Malta registered 510 new Covid-19 infections on March 10, the highest number in a single day since the start of the pandemic. Authorities said that the virus variant first discovered in the UK is now responsible for 60 percent of all local cases. Survey findings by Malta Today show that eight people in every ten in Malta identify the coronavirus pandemic as their major worry, almost double the rate in December. Corruption was the second most mentioned concern by respondents. The government has informed the European Commission that it will open the trapping season for seven protected songbirds this spring. A spokesperson explained the decision as part of a scientific study on migratory patterns.

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Corporate DispatchPro

‘Children’s rights should be safeguarded during the pandemic’ Children’s rights should be safeguarded during the pandemic, Member of the European Parliament Josianne Cutajar said.

She said access to education should remain a priority, despite students moving to online schooling. Cutajar also said that children in vulnerable situations have been affected greatly. “There’s also poverty among children,” Cutajar said, adding that there are other aspects of children’s health which need to continue to be safeguarded. These include online abuse and digital literacy. She said it is essential that we see children recover from the psychological effects that the pandemic has left on them in a concrete way. The European Parliamentary group Renew said that children’s interests should always be first priority in the European Union’s policies. 100 million children currently live in the European Union. This means that one in five people living in the EU are children. The quality of life of these children is at risk because of this pandemic. The political party group said that there could be a disproportionate and devastating impact on children, especially those who live in vulnerable and precarious situations or in poverty. Because of the pandemic, many children are facing violence or abuse. Their physical or emotional health is going backwards. 55

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Corporate DispatchPro “I am grateful that our concerns, such as improving the fight against all forms of violence, online and offline, protecting the right to education that was severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis or the importance of creating a safe environment for vulnerable children through social investment, are well reflected in the final text. These concerns need to be addressed in the upcoming Strategy of the Commission.” The Renew group said that this needs to change. In a resolution that was adopted in the plenary this month, the European Parliament said the European Commission needed to apply measures to eliminate poverty and violence against children. The group said that there needs to be a long-term plan to ensure children’s rights. This plan needs to eliminate discrimination against children. Poverty amongst children needs to be addressed. The right to education has to be guaranteed. These factors, according to the group Renew, need to be the cornernstones of the European Commission’s strategy. After the pandemic, children will face a new future and it is our duty to ensure that this future is a good one, the Parliamentary group said. MEP Ramona Strugariu, Renew Europe’s shadow on the Children’s rights resolution, says:“I am grateful that our concerns, such as improving the fight against all forms of violence, online and offline, protecting the right to education that was severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis or the importance of creating a safe environment for vulnerable children through social investment, are well reflected in the final text. These concerns need to be addressed in the upcoming Strategy of the Commission.” This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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EU is late on Covid-19 vaccine distribution – European Commission The European Parliament discussed the Covid-19 vaccine in the presence of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last month. During the debate, the European Commission President admitted that the EU is running late in its distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. She also said it was too optimistic that the vaccines would arrive in time. European Parliament Vice-President Roberta Metsola said the Covid-19 vaccine should not lead to European Member states to turn against each other. “This is not about one Member State vs another. Turning it into that would be a political miscalculation,” she said. “It has always been up to member state governments to decide how to share the vaccines allocated and everyone should be transparent about that”, she added. “The bigger point here is that coordination works. Joint EU Action works. States like Malta have vaccines available because we insisted on EU joint procurement – because we knew that we had to face this together,” she said. Metsola said this after the European Commission clarified that there will be a flexible systeme for vaccine distribution. On Friday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that vaccine doses were not being spread evenly among member states despite an agreement within the bloc to do so according to population. He blamed, without offering evidence, separate deals struck between the EU’s vaccination steering board and drug companies. 59

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Corporate DispatchPro “The bigger point here is that coordination works. Joint EU Action works. States like Malta have vaccines available because we insisted on EU joint procurement – because we knew that we had to face this together,”

The letter from Kurz and his counterparts, addressed to the Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, called for “a European solution”. The Commission responded that doses have been distributed in proportion with the population of each country and taking into account epidemiological data, adding that was up to member state governments to decide how to share them. A flexible policy agreed by EU governments meant countries facing a more acute phase of the epidemic could access more doses, if some governments opted for not taking up their pro rata allocation, the EU executive said in a statement. This means that Malta, which is facing a rise in Covid-19 cases, has a greater chance of getting more vaccines. MEP Cyrus Engerer spoke during the debate with the European Commission. He said that if Member States had taken part in the vaccines individually it would have been a feast for pharmaceutical companies. Therefore, he insisted on the importance of solidarity, sot hat the European people can feel like they have someone who represents them in this forum. He also said that we should plan for a third vaccine if necessary. This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

FUNDING

Fifth installment of SURE financial support to Member States The European Commission has disbursed €9 billion to seven EU Member States in the fifth instalment of financial support to Member States under the SURE instrument. This is the second disbursement in 2021. As part of today’s operations, Czechia has received €1 billion, Spain €2.87 billion, Croatia €510 million, Italy €3.87 billion, Lithuania €302 million, Malta €123 million and Slovakia €330 million. This is the first time that Czechia has received funding under the instrument. The other six EU countries have already benefitted from loans under SURE. These loans will assist Member States in addressing sudden increases in public expenditure to preserve employment. Specifically, they will help Member States cover the costs directly related to the financing of national short-time work schemes, and other similar measures that they have put in place as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, including for the self-employed. Today’s disbursements follow the issuance of the fifth social bond under the EU SURE instrument, which attracted a considerable interest by investors. So far, 16 Member States have received a total of €62.5 billion under the SURE instrument in back to back loans. Throughout 2021, the Commission will seek to raise in addition over €25 billion through the issuance of EU SURE bonds. Once all SURE disbursements have been completed, Czechia will have received €2 billion, Spain €21.3 billion, Croatia €1 billion, Italy €27.4 billion, Lithuania €602 million, Malta €244 million and Slovakia €631 million. 63

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION

Commission sets research & innovation priorities for a sustainable future The European Commission has adopted the first strategic plan for Horizon Europe, the new EU research and innovation programme worth €95.5 billion in current prices.

The strategic plan is a novelty in Horizon Europe and sets the strategic orientations for the targeting of investments in the programme’s first four years. It ensures that EU research and innovation actions contribute to EU priorities, including a climate-neutral and green Europe, a Europe fit for the digital age, and an economy that works for people. The strategic plan sets out four strategic orientations for research and innovation investments under Horizon Europe for the next four years. These include promoting an open strategic autonomy by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains; restoring Europe’s ecosystems and biodiversity, and managing sustainably natural resources; making Europe the first digitally enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy and creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society.

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

FINANCE

Eurogroup Finance Ministers warn against premature withdrawal of financial support Eurozone Finance Ministers agreed that respective Member States will ensure that until the health crisis is over and recovery is firmly underway, they will continue to protect economies through the deployment of the necessary level of fiscal support. “Supporting economic activity and mitigating scarring effects through timely, temporary and targeted measures is key to longerterm fiscal sustainability. Premature withdrawal of fiscal support should be avoided”, the Ministers said in a statement. The Eurogroup is committed to a supportive stance in the euro area in 2021 and in 2022, also taking into account the fiscal stimulus stemming from the Recovery & Resilience Facility. Ambitious reforms and productive investment, supported by the RRF, are key to increase growth potential in the medium-term. The Eurogroup noted the Commission’s preliminary indication that the general escape clause will continue to apply next year. Finance Ministers also agreed that once the recovery is firmly under way, euro area Member States should address the increased public debt levels by implementing sustainable medium-term fiscal strategies, with an emphasis on improving the quality of public finances, raising investment levels and supporting the green and digital transitions. Member States should focus on reforms that will promote private investment and will increase the productive capacity of the euro area. 67

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Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

EU extends Ukraine-related sanctions The European Council has extended the sanctions targeting those responsible for undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine for a further six months until 15 September 2021.

The existing restrictive measures provide for travel restrictions, the freezing of assets, and a ban on making funds or other economic resources available to the listed persons and entities. Sanctions will continue to apply to 177 individuals and 48 entities. Restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine were first introduced on 17 March 2014. Other EU measures implemented in response to the crisis in Ukraine include economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy, currently in place until 31 July 2021 and restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, limited to the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol and currently in place until 23 June 2021.

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Corporate DispatchPro DASHA AFANASIEVA VIA REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS

Danone CEO exit gives France governance upgrade Activist shareholders may find a more receptive audience in Paris. The ouster of Danone boss Emmanuel Faber shows French companies can no longer be impervious to uppity investors. Other underperformers should be nervous.

Faber’s departure comes less than two weeks after he agreed to step down as Danone chief executive but stay on as chairman. He also pledged to stick to his strategy for the 42 billion euro company, effectively making any incoming CEO a lame duck. The governance fudge failed to mollify his critics, and the board ejected him from both roles immediately. Investors Artisan Partners and Bluebell Capital Partners didn’t even need to seek a shareholder vote to remove him. Faber, who had been in charge since 2014, could be forgiven for thinking he had some protection from shareholders. After all, the French government in 2005 stepped in to fend off a rumoured bid from PepsiCo by declaring the yoghurt maker a strategic, protected industry. No such intervention came from the Élysée this time, perhaps a tacit acknowledgement that Faber had run out of road. Since his own turnaround plan included cost-cutting, keeping him on would not have protected jobs in France. The activists’ success has consequences for other underperforming French companies whose chairman is also the chief executive. Many of the country’s biggest groups still have one executive in both roles. Some are protected by large strategic shareholdings or by good performance. Activists would struggle to remove Alexandre Ricard from family-dominated Pernod Ricard, for example. 71

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Corporate DispatchPro Meanwhile Thales boss Patrice Caine is mainly answerable to the aerospace group’s largest shareholder, the French government. But companies attempting tough turnarounds are more exposed. Arthur Sadoun, who is both chairman and chief executive of media group Publicis, is trying to pivot from traditional advertising into digital and data-led services. His pricey 2019 acquisition of Epsilon invites scrutiny. Supermarket chain Carrefour, led by Alexandre Bompard, could also become a target after the government blocked a possible merger with Canadian group Alimentation Couche-Tard. There may still be no welcome mats, but activists calling on French boardrooms in future are less likely to have the door closed in their face.

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Corporate DispatchPro ROBERT CYRAN VIA REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS

Biden’s vaccine pledge looks too modest President Joe Biden wants all Americans to be eligible for a shot by May 1 and for the country to be on a path closer to normal by the July Fourth holiday. He may be too modest. Vaccine production rates and real-time data show things are moving more quickly. Over 19 percent of Americans, and over 62 percent of those over 65, have already received at least one dose of a vaccine according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The effect of that, combined with falling numbers of Covid-19 cases, is already percolating through the economy, reviving activity in areas hard hit by fearful consumers. Take air travel. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration tracks passengers going through airport security. Last April, volume was less than 5 percent that of the same date in 2019. In March it had recovered to about 45 percent. This is 10 percentage points higher than it was a month ago. Crowded restaurants tell a similar story. OpenTable’s data shows that seated diners were down 46 percent in the U.S. compared to the same date in 2019. A month ago, the figure was down 59 percent. And TomTom traffic reports show rising congestion in the past few weeks in American cities ranging from New York to Los Angeles. Now consider that Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson estimate they will deliver enough additional shots between them, according to Breakingviews calculations, to vaccinate 100 percent of the U.S. population before the end of June. Biden may be setting goals that aren’t too hard to beat – a departure from his predecessor, who predicted the country could be back to normal by last April. While bond investors have caught on to the revving economy, as 10-year Treasury yields at a 52-week high imply growing inflationary

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Corporate DispatchPro pressures, some Wall Street analysts may also be behind the curve. Despite the pent-up demand for flights and vacations, analysts think revenue at Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways won’t recover to 2019 levels until the latter half of 2022, according to Refinitiv, and 2023 for cruise company Carnival, and hotelier Hilton Worldwide. They may be in for a happy surprise.

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Corporate DispatchPro ANTONY CURRIE VIA REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS

Antipodean wind deal harnesses three power sources A trans-Tasman Sea M&A deal puts a high price on clean energy assets. New Zealandbased Tilt Renewables agreed to sell itself to two companies, one in its home market and one in Australia, which will then break it up. At almost NZ$3 billion, the buyers are paying a 99 percent premium to its undisturbed trading level in December, and 96 times next year’s estimated earnings for the coming financial year, using Refinitiv data. As puffed up as that sounds, the sale harnesses three viable power sources. Only a dozen or so firms in Australia generate more than 400 megawatts each of green energy. The largest is the buyer of Tilt’s Aussie assets, PowAR, or Powering Australian Renewables, a joint venture between the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Queensland Investment Corporation and AGL Energy. And it only generates 800 MW, barely 1 percent of Australia’s installed capacity from all energy sources. But there is also a scarcity of targets. Virtually all the other big renewables players in Australia are owned by larger entities like Spain’s Iberdrola or France’s Neoen. That dialled up the interest, with several companies still bidding at the end of last week. The winners had a couple of things going for them. The buyer of the New Zealand business, Mercury NZ, already owns almost 20 percent of Tilt, so knows it well. Moreover, the company is majority-owned by the New Zealand government, which is likely to help with any regulatory approvals. Similarly, PowAR’s ties to the Australian authorities are a plus. What’s really prompting the buyers to stoke up the price for Tilt is the prospect of helping governments fulfil net-zero emissions pledges. They have a long way to go. New Zealand gets around 79

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Corporate DispatchPro 60 percent of its supply from fossils fuels, especially oil and gas. Australia relies on coal for some 70 percent of its needs. Last week the Victorian government unveiled a deal to close Yallourn, a privately owned brown coal plant providing 20 percent of the state’s electricity demand, in favour of renewables. New South Wales last October talked up an A$32 billion plan to green its energy system. Tilt’s buyers will need such big commitments to be kept, or their stakes will left blowing in the wind.

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Profile for CDE Publishing

CorporateDispatch Pro - Edition 18