As international media organisations welcomed action by the European Commission against Hungary for its breach of EU law in forcing Klubradio off the air, Malta is also among the countries facing a list of infringement proceedings relating to environmental issues, the cash-for-passports scheme and migration, as well as taxation on cars.
The Commission’s move against Hungary was welcomed by international media organisations such as the ECPMF and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ). “The European Commission launches infringement procedure against Hungary following the decision by Fidesz-captured Media Council to reject Klubradio’s application on use of radio spectrum. EFJ welcomes this EU move to protect media freedom,” said General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez.
We were clear about our doubts, we warned the Hungarian authorities and asked them to find a solution so that Klubradio could continue broadcasting. They did not act. We now launch an infringement procedure against Hungary for failing to comply with EU telecoms rules. pic.twitter.com/DarW0nceCu
— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) June 9, 2021
Closer to home, Birdlife Malta welcomed the Commission’s move on finch trapping/ The European Commission sent its final warning to Malta in this regard as it announced that a Reasoned Opinion has been sent to the Maltese government in relation to the infringement procedure initiated against Malta in December on finch trapping under “the false pretence” of a scientific and research study.
“This is the second official warning following an unsatisfactory reply to the first warning (Letter of Formal Notice) issued at the end of last year, and if Malta does not remedy the situation in a month’s time, the country will once again be taken to the European Court of Justice to defend the indefensible,” Birdlife Malta said.
Several other environmental concerns were raised by the Commission, largely related to waste – on end of life vehicles, batteries and accumulators, electrical and electronic equipment, and packaging waste. The landfilling of waste is also an issue of concern. The European Green Deal stresses the importance of Europe remaining on track to meet its environmental objectives.
Perhaps a more controversial issue is the Commission’s move against Malta on the cash-for-passports scheme, as well as migration – it seems the stand adopted by the country where it claims it’s “full up” for asylum seekers but willing to sell citizenship to those who are prepared to inject funds into the country’s coffers did not go unnoticed.
The Commission has decided to take further steps in the infringement procedures against Cyprus and Malta regarding their investor citizenship schemes, also referred to as “golden passport” schemes, as it stressed that the two countries should “stop selling EU citizenship”. The Commission considers that by establishing and operating investor citizenship schemes that offer citizenship in exchange for pre-determined payments and investments, these two Member States fail to fulfil their obligations under the principle of sincere cooperation (Article 4(3) TEU) and the definition of citizenship of the Union as laid down in the Treaties (Article 20 TFEU).
“While Cyprus and Malta remain responsible to decide who may become Cypriot and Maltese, the Court of Justice has made it clear on multiple occasions that rules on the acquisition of the nationality of a Member State must do so having ‘due regard to EU law’,” the Commission stated. Both Member States have two months to take the necessary measures to address the Commission’s concerns.
On migration, the Commission is urging Malta to correctly transpose EU rules on long term residents. Under the Directive, Member States grant long term resident status to non-EU nationals legally and continuously residing within its territory for five years immediately prior to their application. Malta has two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to send a Reasoned Opinion.
In our June infringements package, we pursue legal action against EU countries for failing to comply with EU law in several policy areas, such as:
🌿 Environment and fisheries
📥 Internal Market
Find more about our key decisions by clicking here ↓ pic.twitter.com/trZHxY5dBT
— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@EU_Commission) June 9, 2021
The Commission has also urged Malta to change its legislation on car taxation. The Commission considers that Maltese legislation is not compatible with Article 110 of TFEU prohibiting discrimination against imported products since cars imported from other Member States are taxed more heavily compared to domestic cars.
Under the national provisions currently in force, cars first registered in Malta from 1st January 2009 are subject to a generally higher annual circulation tax than those registered before that date, due to a difference in the way the tax is calculated. The Maltese car taxation system does not take into account the date of first registration of the vehicle, where registration took place in another Member State.
Consequently, the Maltese car taxation system has a discriminatory effect with respect to motor vehicles coming from other Member States. If Malta does not act within the next two months, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice.