In the European Parliament, around 40 MEPs, including the six Maltese europarliamentarians, raised various issues during today’s debate on Malta including the condemnation of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, a request for an international investigation into the murder, raised doubts on the taxation system, criminality and the effectiveness of Maltese institutions with regards to the rule of law, and there were also arguments on whether the debate was a double-standards by the PE in relation to Malta.
Euro MPs of the two biggest political groups – the European People’s Party and the Socialists and Democrats – had divergent positions in the debate, with EPP deputies stating that Malta is a country worn out by corruption, tax evasion and crime, while S & D MEPs reacting by saying that EPP’s comments are exaggerated when there are other countries with problems in the rule of law, including Hungary and Poland.
Labour Party delegation head, Alfred Sant, said that there is the intention in the PE not to give a factual picture of the facts on the rule of law in Malta. “Malta is being attacked for shortcomings in the rule of law on the basis of twisted and half facts, allegations that are not proved taken at face value, rumours and irrelevant issues on rule of law”, Dr Sant stated.
Nationalist Party delegation head, David Casa, said that despite the requests so that the European Commission acts in relation to Malta’s rule of law, nothing was ever done. “It knows this and it chooses to support European values only when the accused are political adversaries. Do not defend the indefensible; support the people”, Casa said.
Matti Maasikas, on behalf of the European Council Estonian Presidency, said that the Maltese authorities are carrying out an investigation with the assistance of international experts on the Caruana Galizia murder. “I believe that the Maltese institutions will be responding to the challenges they face so that justice is made”.
Speaking on behalf of the European Commission, Vice President Frans Timmermans said that the Commission notices that the Maltese authorities show that their institutions are robust and strong. “The Commission is not concerned on the Maltese taxation system, however it expects that it implements the necessary directives and regulations for transparency to fight money laundering”, Timmermans stated.
Five political groups in the European Parliament are proposing a resolution which includes various requests in relation to the rule of law in Malta. In the 15-point resolution, they requested the Police Commissioner to investigate money laundering allegation and the authorities to investigate the Pilatus Bank licence granting. The motion calls on the European Commission to monitor the rule of law situation in Malta.
European Parliament deputies are expected to vote on the resolution tomorrow.
Meanwhile, in a media conference, Labour MEPs stated that the resolution contains various half truths or inexact facts, and they therefore felt they had to clarify by explaining what is happening in Malta regarding conformity of the tax system vwith European regulations, and the fight against tax evasion and money laundering, updating of the Press Law, including removal of criminal libel, and strengthening of governance.
See comments by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani regarding the debate on rule of law in Malta.