European Parliament raises fresh concerns on rule of law

Malta pledges commitment despite damning report

 

During a European Parliament discussion on Monday on the rule of law within the EU, Malta pledged its continued commitment to the cause despite a damning annual report that found little in the way of progress.

The discussion focused on the state of the rule of law in the bloc and individual member states, with MPs and MEPs highlighting how it “cannot be taken for granted” following the publication of the report in July, which investigated member states, including Malta.

Despite the report’s findings on Malta, Labour Party MP Omar Farrugia pledged the Maltese government’s “continued commitment” to the rule of law. He lauded “significant reforms” in recent years and said the government had “a living commitment to sustain if we want to keep our democracy alive.”

Farrugia’s European Parliament intervention was part of an exchange of views on the Commission’s report, which included representatives from the Commission, rule of law monitoring groups, university professors, MPs and MEPs.

That report, which tracked the progress of recommendations made by the European Commission regarding the rule of law, found little to no progress over the previous 12 months.

Of six main areas of recommendations, Malta registered ‘some progress’ on three, with ‘no progress’ on the rest, with the Commission noting that “the efficiency of justice has further deteriorated” and “no measures have been adopted to improve the working environment of journalists.”

Among the issues raised by parliamentarians in the discussion was the assassination of journalists, including Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, Jan Kuciak in Slovakia, and Giorgos Karaivaz in Greece. They described them as critical failures for the EU and individual member states.

Sophie In’t Veld, the Chair of the Democracy Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group, said the assassinations implied the EU was turning a blind eye “to the erosion of the rule of law not just in member states but in the EP made up of representatives from those states.”

She noted how an upcoming EU law combatting strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) was deficient in protecting journalists. “It would’ve done very little to prevent Caruana Galizia’s death and would protect from only 2% of the SLAPP cases in Europe,” she said.

European Commission Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said the rule of law was a much-discussed topic. Still, deficiencies in many member states showed how “we cannot always take respect for the rule of law for granted.”

Danish Parliamentarian Theresa Scavenius highlighted how “a lack of rule of law leads to mistrust of the system,” noting how this “paves the way” for the rise of populist governments and furthers political polarisation.

Other damning issues in Malta’s report, not addressed by Farrugia, include the judicial appointments and an under-resourced justice system which “further deteriorated” the efficiency of justice.

Additionally, it noted how “challenges related to high-level corruption cases remain” and highlighted difficulties at the Permanent Commission Against Corruption.

Malta’s citizenship scheme and the controversial procedure through which Standards Commissioner Joseph Azzopardi was appointed were also mentioned, along with Malta’s failures to fully implement the recommendations of the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry, stating that “no measures have been adopted to improve the working environment of journalists.”

The report also sounded the alarm over the continued lack of access to information by media houses and journalists and found that “no steps have been taken to enhance the independence of public service media.”

                           

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3 Comments
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D M Briffa
D M Briffa
2 months ago

If the EU functioned like a business, and operated like an umbrella company with lots of subsidiaries, Malta would have been sold off years ago. The subsidiary is far too toxic, causing way too much reputational damage to the global brand image. Sell it, or scuttle it.

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
2 months ago

Seems like his speech was written by ChatGPT….he’s so cut off from reality!!!!

chris
chris
2 months ago

What? You mean you haven’t heard that Angelo Gafa and Joseph Azzoraprdi are running a series of lectures about the rule of law? Sophie In’t Veld, Didier Reynders and Theresa Scevenius have already enrolled.
That will teach those ignorant Europeans the Maltese version of rule of law.

Last edited 2 months ago by chris

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