Roberta Metsola is chair of the Maltese delegation in the European Parliament's PP Group and EPP spokesperson in the Committee on Civil Liberties
For twenty-six months now, we have waited for the criminals behind the assassination of anti-corruption investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to be brought to justice. Nearly one month ago, alarming revelations implicated the office of the Prime Minister—specifically Joseph Muscat’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri—in the assassination of Daphne and the subsequent cover-up. The corruption of this administration runs deep. Minister Konrad Mizzi, who has held key portfolios in Muscat’s governments and who was the only European Minister to have been named in the Panama Papers, resigned his post. Keith Schembri, the Prime Minister’s erstwhile Chief of Staff, who was also named in the Panama Papers, resigned too. However, Joseph Muscat refuses to do the same – insisting that he will cling on for 30 more days of chaos.
The people of Malta have taken to the street in defiance, protesting Joseph Muscat’s unwillingness to relinquish his power. Day after day, the Maltese people have demonstrated their anger and frustration with the Prime Minister’s reckless actions. They know that as long as Muscat is in office, justice cannot be served – it cannot be done, and it cannot be seen to be done. The situation becomes more urgent as time passes. Every day he remains in power there is a clear risk of contamination of the investigation. Muscat must shoulder his responsibility to the people of Malta immediately. Only his immediate resignation can prevent political interference compromising the integrity of the investigation and the pursuit of justice.
Joining the European Union unites Member States in shared values and principles that are embedded in our treaties. The rule of law is a pillar upon which our EU institutions are built as well as every democratic institution in every Member State. And so, not only the fate of Malta hangs in the balance. If we fail to hold the current Prime Minister in Malta accountable for their clear violations of the rule of law, we put at risk the strong foundation of the entire European Union. When Malta joined the European Union, it promised to play by the rules. Since Muscat’s government has broken these rules, far-reaching changes must be implemented to prevent this from ever happening again in the future.
In our resolution, we urge the Commission to launch a dialogue with the Maltese authorities concerning the rule of law. In so doing, we can help the country move forward in reforming the justice system and upholding the independence of its institutions. We have talked at length these past few weeks about the political crisis in Malta, but now is the time for action. We do not wish to punish any government, any political party or any individual. Rebuilding the integrity of the Maltese government and safeguarding the rights of the Maltese people rebuilds the integrity of the EU and safeguards the rights of all Europeans. It also means that Daphne Caruana Galizia would not have died in vain; her work will serve this ultimate purpose.
We need to ensure that we have a framework in place to ensure that every Member State continues to play by the rules set out upon their accession. A pan-European rule of law mechanism must be designed and executed so that no Member State can violate our Treaty with impunity. The people on the ground in Malta, protesting outside the Prime Minister’s office, are looking to Europe not just for words of support, but for concrete actions proving their support. The eyes of the world are looking to us, we will not look away.