Ursula von der Leyen reacted to the situation in Malta in a press conference. Yesterday, a delegation from the European Parliament completed its urgent mission to Malta and presented a final report. On the same day during her first regular press conference in her new office regarding the rule of law in Malta, Von der Leyen only said that the EU Commission would cooperate with the Maltese authorities in reforming the judicial system. It did not comment on a possible rule of law procedure.
Sven Giegold, spokesman for Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in the European Parliament, who participated in an EP mission to Malta, commented:
„Ursula von der Leyen’s reaction to the massive problems in Malta is far too weak.
Von der Leyen seems to fail her first test to protect the rule of law. It’s not just a question of reforming the judicial system. Von der Leyen must not turn a blind eye to the culture of impunity when it comes to corruption and financial crime in Malta. A fundamental problem is that Malta often has no investigations at all into cases of corruption or money laundering. If von der Leyen takes the report of the European Parliament seriously, she must act now. The EU Commission should initiate rule of law investigations otherwise she will face a severe credibility problem. If von der Leyen does not initiate rule of law proceedings in this situation, when will she? Preparations must now be made for Article 7 proceedings against Malta. The EU Commission must also no longer tolerate the breach of agreements with the EU on the sale of passports by Malta. There must also be immediate consequences for Malta: Muscat should leave sooner rather than later. Maltese citizens rightly demand his immediate resignation“.
Yesterday’s disappointing remarks by Commission President Von der Leyen can be found here:
„Last topic in the [EU commission] College meeting was Malta. I am concerned by the recent developments in Malta; we’re following the situation very closely. To be very clear on that: We harshly condemn the murder of journalist Daphne. Her murder was an attack on the free media. Free media is THE foundation of our democratic society. Journalists must feel safe to work in Europe. If not, democracy as we know it will be under threat.
I will not comment on ongoing national investigations. However, what I will say is that I expect there to be a thorough and independent investigation, free of ANY political interference. Europol is in Malta, it is providing support to the Maltese authorities. It is crucial that ALL those responsible are brought to justice asap.
The [EU] commission is also in touch with the Maltese authorities on the reform of the judicial system and will continue to work with the authorities to accelerate these reforms.“