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Seven takeaways from EP debate on rule of law in Malta

MEPs hold a marathon session to debate rule of law motion, vote to be taken on Wednesday

A vote on the motions will be taken on Wednesday

Labour running roughshod over rule of law

Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola says the Labour government is using its majority to run roughshod over the rule of law, adding that “there can be no true democracy with a shackled democracy. Our Prime Minister calls us traitors in his rallies and rails against ‘evil Europe’. Stand with us, do not let us down.” Fellow PN MEP David Casa described the debate as a “fight for, not against, Maltese people.” Switching to English, Casa told Timmermans “please do not ignore us anymore,” and underlined the cross-party calls to commence a dialogue with the Maltese government over the rule of law.

Sant invokes Labour’s electoral mandate

Former Labour leader Alfred Sant told his colleagues in Strasbourg that claims that the rule of law in Malta collapsed are based on “jumbled facts and semi-facts. Unproven allegations, innuendos and issues irrelevant to the rule of law.” He went on to remind MEPs of Labour’s unprecedented electoral victories. He said economic growth showed that the perception of the European Parliament was wrong, claiming the Parliament was being led by national partisan motives. He said the politicisation of the rule of law “undermines the moral basis” of the European Parliament. This was echoed by Labour MEP Miriam Dalli who accused the European Parliament of “double standards” after insisting that there’s nothing wrong with the rule of law in Malta because the Labour government introduced gay marriage, a party financing law and a Whistleblowers’ act.

Malta looks like Netflix’s Narcos

Far-right MEP George Mayer likened the situation in Malta to the TV series Narcos. Malta “looks more like something from Netflix’s Narcos, what with drug trafficking and a journalist murdered,” he said. EPP MEP Michaela Šojdrová said Caruana Galizia’s murder “has become a symbol of the fight against corruption and lack of transparency of the Maltese government is completely unacceptable.” This she said was proof of weakened state institutions. “I appeal to Labour MEPs: you must put pressure on your prime minister,” she added.

Malta was likened to Netflix's series Narcos.
Malta was likened to Netflix’s series Narcos.

Malta must show the world that its rules are robust

Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission said, “Malta must show Europe and the world that its rules are healthy and robust.” He also called on Malta to join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, saying it would send an important message on Malta’s commitment to justice. While saying that there are no major concerns over Malta’s compliance with European law, Timmermans said improvements could be made, adding that the Commission has sent recommendations, specifically with regards to the FIAU.

Pilatus and Nexia BT should have licenses revoked

Outspoken Green MEP Sven Giegold asked a number of pertinent questions, including “why do Nexia BT and Pilatus Bank still have licences in Malta?” He also asked the Commission to investigate concerns about MFSA chairman Joe Bannister’s dual role as Malta’s financial regulator and also vice-president of its financial development agency. Geigold also called into question Malta’s use of “hyper-low” taxation saying there is a “hole” in existing laws.

 

Eva Joly
Eva Joly

Tax rules in Malta must be changed

The rule of law was not the only matter raised by MEPs and Green MEP Eva Joly was among the many MEPs who flagged Malta’s tax system.  “Tax rules in Malta must be changed. They are undermining the future of the European Union. The EU must go far further and bring to an end this unfair tax competition,” she said. These sentiments were also shared by Socialist MEP Ana Gomez who said that deregulation by successive governments has led Malta to become “a tax haven,” and a magnet for letterbox companies. “Malta has to rethink its development model and not act as a specialist in tax avoidance and money laundering,” Gomez said.

Malta is no Hungary or Poland

Gomez was among many Socialist MEPs to insist that the situation in Malta is not as bad as it is in Poland and Hungary, two countries facing infringement proceedings over their failure to bring their laws in line with European law. Most Socialist MEPs defended Malta and the Labour government, insisting that the situation in Malta cannot be compared to the two Eastern European countries.The Labour Party is affiliated with the European Socialists.

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