European Parliament Raises Concerns over Democracy and Rule of Law in Malta

Following the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, serious concerns are being made among MEPs about the county’s democracy. The European parliament has urged the EU authorities to open dialogue with Malta about the rule of law in the country; a process which has also began in Poland earlier in the year.

According to European lawmakers “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 the judiciary,”

MEPs have also accused Maltese police of “failing to investigate several serious allegations of corruption and breach of anti-money laundering and banking supervision obligations”, describing this as “a threat to the rule of law in this member state”.

Daphne Caruana Galizia wrote blogs focused on addressing corruption, and was described as a ‘one-woman WikiLeaks’. “Daphne never grew cynical, she grew more outraged and frustrated and with every story that she broke her readership grew large and her readers more loyal,” her husband, Peter Caruana Galizia, told MEP’s and journalists at a ceremony held by the European parliament.

The new resolution does not require any immediate action from EU authorities; however it does put pressure on the commission to monitor Malta’s democracy and laws carefully. The EU struggle with internal democracy standard in some member states, but has recently begun to confront the issue following the investigations into rule of law of Poland. Hungary has also been under scrutiny by MEP’s over its treatment of asylum seekers.

MEP’s have raised concerns over the sale of Maltese passports, which provides the super rich the chance to buy EU citizenship, along with free movement and other EU protections. Business people and political figures from Russia and the Ukraine are among hundreds who’ve been allowed to purchase Maltese passports. Following investigation, the European commission has confirmed it’s looking into these allegations and will be publishing a report next year.

MEP’s are also criticizing Malta’s “hyper-low taxation” of businesses. The country has a large financial centre when compared with its total population, and some companies have been found to be paying as little as 5% corporation tax. The French Green MEP Eva Joly said that Malta is “undermining European cohesion”.

Last month an agreement was created among EU countries to tackle cross-border crimes. 20 member states agreed to sign the agreement, and Malta was among the minority that refused. The new resolution was expected to pass, as it had the support of nearly two thirds of MEPs, including groups from the centre-right and radical left and green parties.

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