European parliament angry and concerned about situation in Malta
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    European parliament angry and concerned about situation in Malta

    Members of the European Parliament are reported to be concerned about “serious and persistent threats to the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights” in Malta. 

    They spoke on Wednesday about the “real or supposed threat” that the investigation into the 2017 assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was compromised.

    The EU’s provided resolution says this risk “persists while the Prime Minister remains in office,” and called on Malta to “do everything it can” to remove the risk. 

    MEPs added it was important Malta’s Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, resigns as soon as possible, although without mentioning him by name, as the justice department’s independence could not be guaranteed at this time.

    Muscat has announced he will resign on the 12th of January 2020, after the names of a minister and the head of his cabinet were mentioned in the Galizia investigation. 

    EPP (centre-right) MEPs spoke about all the problems on Tuesday and demanded Muscat’s immediate resignation. EPP´s president Manfred Weber was also virulent when talking to European Council president Charles Michel on Wednesday morning.

    Weber criticised the fact that the Malta issue was not dealt with at the European summit in Brussels last week, which Muscat attended alongside other heads of state and EU government chiefs “You should have the courage to talk about it amongst yourselves,” he said, annoyed.

    Sophia in ‘t Veld (Renew) had also been very frank the previous day: “the European Council should be ashamed to sit at the same table as Muscat while refusing to talk about this.” 

    In their resolution, adopted with 581 votes in favour, 26 against and 83 abstentions, MEPs criticised the lack of concrete measures provided by the Commission over the last few years. They referred back to the observations of commissioner Jourová, who said “Malta’s incapacity to instigate judicial reform could lead to the initiation of the procedure laid out in article 7.” 

    Concerns run deeper than just the Galizia investigation. Her death “is just a symptom of what has been happening in Malta for a long time,” Belgian politician Hilde Vautmans said. “The separation of power is under pressure, corruption is prospering at the highest political levels and freedom of the press is systematically violated. This is unacceptable for an EU member state.” 

    Sarah Johansson
    The Brussels Times