MEPs are this week expected to adopt a resolution that voicing ‘deep concern’ about current events in Malta.
The European Parliament is worried about what is claimed to be continued “obstacles” to resolving the brutal murder of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
She was murdered in October 2017 as she investigated a web of companies that she believed were funnelling bribes to Maltese politicians.
A total of six people in Malta have been charged with Galizia’s killing and await trial.
There are also fresh concerns over the sale of Maltese EU citizenship to multimillionaires under the so-called “golden visa” scheme.
This Wednesday (28 April), in a resolution on the rule of law in Malta, MEPs will demand answers to the possible involvement of government ministers in the killing of Galizia, who was internationally known for her work against corruption and organised crime.
A recent special report by Reuters and a consortium of journalists said that a widening investigation into allegations of high-level corruption in Malta, first levelled by Galizia, stretches to China and a $400m investment into Europe by a Chinese state power company.
“There are many questions now with regard to the Maltese Government and its commitment to the rule of law in Malta. Maltese state authorities need to make sure the investigation can take place so that finally, all the light can be shed on Galizia's murder. We expect the European Commission to maintain pressure on the Maltese authorities to that end” EPP Group leader in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber
Centre-right EPP Group leader in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber said his group is concerned that the Maltese Government will “continue to obstruct the path to justice” for Galizia, adding, "The developments around the assassination are very worrying, with recent revelations pointing to the implication of the highest levels of government.
The German MEP said, “There are many questions now with regard to the Maltese Government and its commitment to the rule of law in Malta. Maltese state authorities need to make sure the investigation can take place so that finally, all the light can be shed on Galizia's murder. We expect the European Commission to maintain pressure on the Maltese authorities to that end.”
“We will never accept that journalists are murdered with impunity in Europe. Parliament must stand united to protect journalists and ensure media freedom and the rule of law in all EU states. This is not a party political issue. This is not a Maltese issue, but a European one.”
Fellow EPP member Jeroen Lenaers added, “The implication of those at the highest level of government in Galizia’s assassination is shocking. She was internationally known for her work against corruption and organised crime. When politicians at the highest levels of government are interlinked with the assassination of an investigative journalist, we must stand united in our condemnation and concern.”
Ahead of the debate, further comment came from German Greens MEP Sven Gielgold who said, “Europe has a responsibility for Galizia. It is our responsibility to ensure justice for her because she fought for our common European values; for the rule of law, for democracy and for tax justice.”
“When she was murdered, the extensive problems around corruption and money laundering that she investigated for so many years did not disappear. On the contrary, these problems are still structural problems in Malta.”
Europe has a responsibility for Galizia. It is our responsibility to ensure justice for her because she fought for our common European values; for the rule of law, for democracy and for tax justice” German Greens MEP Sven Gielgold
Elsewhere, it has been claimed that the Maltese government continues to sell EU citizenship to multimillionaires who have minimal genuine links to the countries
Rich applicants are, it is claimed, signing €1m deals in return for Maltese passports after a 12-month qualifying period.
The revelations are based on leaked emails from Henley & Partners, which describes itself as a "global leader in residence and citizenship planning". The documents show how the requirement that applicants establish a genuine link to the country has been allegedly undermined.
Applicants for a so-called “golden passport” had to write a letter to the relevant authority explaining how they intended to strengthen their ties with Malta. The time the prospective citizens wanted to spend in Malta during their compulsory one-year residency period averaged 16 days.
Some of the applicants who later received a golden passport did not commit to spending time in the country at all. Instead, they were able to buy a “genuine link” by donating to charities or joining a sports club.
The relevant government agency, Identity Malta, in consultation with Henley & Partners, is said to have developed a points system: 1 day in Malta equals 15 points, a €10,000 donation to charity is worth 50 points, and 220 points or more are needed to prove a genuine link.
The revelations come after the European Commission last October started infringement proceedings against Malta and Cyprus, by issuing letters of formal notice regarding their investor citizenship schemes. The commission accused Malta of selling European citizenship to individuals with no genuine connection to the country.
The new revelations are based on documents that the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation had shared with media partners. The work of the foundation was supported by the Investigative Journalism for Europe Fund. The revelations are part of the Passports Papers series just launched by the Times of Malta.
Gielgold, who has taken a close interest on the passports issue in Malta, said, “The Maltese government's disregard for European values is even greater than feared. Basic European values have been sacrificed for quick profits in Malta. The new revelations are a low point in the scandal of the sale of European citizens' rights.”
He added, “For eight years now, Malta has been enriching itself by selling passports and visas. The visas and passports sold are an open door to corruption.”