Yesterday evening, 28 April, the European Parliament voted a resolution on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the rule of law in Malta. It was adopted with a large majority of 635 Members of the European Parliament in favour. EPP, Renew, S&D, Greens/EFA, the Left, ID and parts of ECR voted in favour. A majority of ECR parliamentarians as well as seven S&D Members of Parliament voted against. In the lead-up to the resolution, the negotiations were led constructively by the Liberals (Renew). The S&D introduced four amendments to weaken the resolution, all of which were defeated. The Greens/EFA have sought to strengthen the text at all stages of the negotiations, but references denouncing the widespread use of direct contracts in public procurement, among others, did not get majority support because of a lack of support by S&D, Renew and the Left.
The resolution strongly denounces the “serious and persistent threats to the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights, including questions as to the freedom of the media, the independence of law enforcement and the judiciary from political interference” in Malta. It is the follow-up to a plenary debate on 25 March, which was convened on short notice following the arrest of Keith Schembri, former head of cabinet of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who resigned in January 2020. Accusations of several counts of corruption, money laundering and fraud against Schembri and 10 others as well as the recent Passport Papers revelations confirmed grave concerns.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“The European Parliament will not stand idly by when the rule of law and the lives of journalists are at risk. This resolution sends a strong signal to the Maltese Government and the European Commission. An overwhelming majority of elected representatives called for structural reforms and the resolute enforcement of European law. Corruption in the highest circles of government must be prosecuted without exception. The sale of European citizenship rights by the Maltese Government must end now. It is unacceptable that the Maltese Government continues to sell golden passports despite the infringement proceedings launched by the European Commission. The revelations that wealthy applicants were encouraged to donate to charities with close ties to the political elite may well prove to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
An independent press and the protection of journalists from SLAPP lawsuits is key to hold governments throughout Europe to account. I call on the European Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal for a European Anti-SLAPP regulation. In the meantime, the Greens/EFA have successfully introduced wording calling for domestic Anti-SLAPP legislation in Malta in this resolution.”
Resolution of the European Parliament, the final text should be available shortly under “Texts adopted”: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/B-9-2021-0219_EN.html
Plenary amendments by the Greens/EFA Group (amendments 7, 10, 11, 12, 13 were adopted, 8 and 9 rejected): https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/B-9-2021-0219-AM-007-013_EN.pdf
Plenary amendments by the S&D Group (amendments 1, 2, 4, 5, rejected, 3 and 6 adopted): https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/B-9-2021-0219-AM-001-006_EN.pdf
Results of the roll call vote on the plenary amendments: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/doc/news/flash/25482/Result_28-04-2021_First%20voting%20session%2013.00%20-%2014.15_en.pdf
Votes by name and political group on the plenary amendments and on the final resolution (votes 43 – 58, 163): https://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/doc/news/flash/24223/P9_PV(2021)04-28(RCV)_en.docx