The European Parliament will be calling on the European Commission to ensure that Malta respects European values, by opening a rule of law procedure against its smallest member state.
This could lead the Commission to request the Maltese government to address the situation within a stipulated timeframe or risk facing infringement proceedings.
If Malta fails to meet the Commission’s demands this could trigger Article 7 of the EU treaty, allowing the Commission to issue a formal warning if approved by four-fifths of the Member States in the Council of Ministers.
In a scathing verdict on the Maltese police, the motion also calls on the police commissioner to investigate Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s most trusted men, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, both subject to FIAU reports on suspicions of money laundering.
The motion for a resolution – agreed upon by all the European Parliament’s political groups bar the Socialists and Democrats (of which the Maltese Labour Party is a member) – calls on the Commission to “establish a dialogue with the Maltese Government regarding the functioning of the rule of law in Malta and to ensure respect for European values.”
Similar proceedings were opened against Poland and Hungary in which the Commission requested the two Eastern European countries to implement laws in line with EU law.
The motion also calls on the Commission to keep the European Parliament fully informed of its assessment and reiterates the need for “a regular process of monitoring and dialogue involving all Member States in order to safeguard the EU’s fundamental values of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law.”
In a move prompted by the brutal assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the motion noted that the failure of the Maltese police to investigate serious allegations of corruption and the breach of anti-money laundering and banking supervision obligations “represents a threat to the rule of law in this Member State.”
In a damning verdict on the Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar’s inaction, the European Parliament “specifically regrets the fact that there has been no police investigation to date in Malta of the revelations regarding the Panama Papers and Politically Exposed Persons in the leaked FIAU reports.” It also notes that Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, who were both named in the FIAU reports, remain part of government.
While calling for an independent international investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the motion also “regrets that developments in Malta in recent years have led to serious concerns about the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights including freedom of the media and the independence of the police and judiciary.”
The Socialists proposed a counter resolution which stated that despite concerns on Caruana Galizia’s assassination, Malta’s institutions were trusted by the majority of people.