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MEPs demand justice for Caruana Galizia in ‘rule of law’ debate [live-blog]

Follow our live-blog here: MEPs debate the rule of law in Malta in the aftermath of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
14 November 2017, 9:32am
Last updated on 14 November 2017, 4:50pm
16:50: This live-blog is over.
16:50: So, we wrap up this live-blog here. There are two resolutions on the table: the debate is over, and the vote takes place tomorrow Wednesday. Thank you watching the debate here on MaltaToday.
16:47: Frans Timmermans, European Commission: “The investigation should be allowed to run its full course. It is good that the Maltese authorities have engaged in full cooperation with the FBI, Europol, Scotland Yard and the NFI… what is not on is to draw conclusions on who did it. We stress that this investigation be allowed to run its full course. I caution against drawing such conclusions.
“I give you assurance that the EC will pursue all your questions and provide you with answers whenever we can. But again what is not on, as far as the EC is concerned, is to start with a conclusion and then look for facts to prop up that conclusion. That is not how we do things.
“On the sale of passports, Malta is not the only member state that has that scheme – other member states have permanent residency for people who invest. In our 2018 report on this, we will describe the EC’s actions in this area and provide some guidance. We are working on this report right now. Member states should use their prerogative on citizenship in line with their EU obligations and in sincere cooperation with other member states.
“The Commission insists with Malta to sincerely consider the possibility to join the EPPO. “I do express the hope that given the seriousness of this issue and the questions put on the table, that we do not turn this into a party-political fight. This is not what Daphne deserves.”
16:38: At this stage, the EP is now welcoming speakers through the 'catch-the-eye' method, as the debate winds down with final addresses from the European Commission and the European Council.
16:36: Paulo RANGEL, EPP: “The only thing we ask of the Commission is to ensure the respect of the rule of law. Malta should be the bastion of the protection of human rights, rule of law, and independence of judiciary as a gateway nation. We could not ignore the fact that the Panama Papers are directly linked with Maltese authorities, and nothing was made to protect her life against threats.”
16:34: Dariusz ROSATI [EPP]: “I think we should mobilise to make sure that all those responsible are brought to justice and that such a tragedy will not happen again.”
16:33: Francis Zammit Dimech [EPP]: “The Maltese people who voted to join the EU wanted a future that protects the rule of law and democracy. Today we are in a surreal situation where those who went against her in her life, will now have to analyse what she wrote to solve her murder.”
16:31: Michaela ŠOJDROVÁ [EPP]: “This murder has become a symbol of the fight against corruption and lack of transparency of the Maltese government is completely unacceptable in an EU member state. It is a proof of weakened state institutions. I appeal to Labour MEPs: you must put pressure on your prime minister.”
16:29: Cécile Kashetu KYENGE [S&D]: “Daphne believed in freedom of speech and she was passionate and professional about the job she loved… she was murdered because she came up against those who tried to undermine the rule of law. There is a corrupt system that works against the values of democracy. We place our trust in the government in Malta and the other agencies to bring out the truth on her death.”
16:27: Christel SCHALDEMOSE [S&D]: “Malta is not Hungary, Malta is not Poland. Malta is in a dialogue with the EU. Malta has stretched out its hand an asked for help. Let's help Malta find out what happened. Let’s call upon Hungary and Poland to do the same thing as Malta and stretch out its hand for help from the EU.”
16:23: Marc Tarabella [S&D]: “I would like the Commission to go beyond words and move to acts. We are waiting impatiently for the EC to look at laws that protect journalists, as we have proposed on several occasions. The murder is an attack on press freedoms and those who want good governance… .”
16:20: Ramon JÁUREGUI ATONDO, [S&D]: “I wouldn’t go as far as to link this crime to a state, to link this crime to the undermining of rule of law in Malta. I call for an independent investigation into this crime. All of us agree that the murderers must be brought to justice and rules on tax fraud be upheld.”
16:18:
16:17:
16:15: Marlene Mizzi [S&D]: “This parliament is being used to throw the spanner in the wheels of a democratic government, for partisan reasons. Maltese institutions are not perfect. No country is free of criminality or abuses or scandals. This does not mean we should not fight criminality and abuse. But this is being blown out of proportion to satisfy a partisan agenda. To use Malta as a scapegoat should not be the agenda of this institution. The intention of this resolution is to damage the government and bring Malta to its knees.”
16:09: Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar [S&D] : “The latest car bomb is proof enough of the risk to those who are exposing corruption and lies. There is no problem with rule of law or freedom of expression. What the problem is in Malta is the laundering of money from illicit sources, particularly from organised crime. Malta not only has to allow an independent investigation into what happened, but even more dramatic from Caruana Galizia’s sons is for Malta to do more to combat corruption and clean up the financial system, to reduce this serious cross-border crime.”
16:07: Lara Comi [EPP]: “Daphne was threatened. She reported those threats and nobody did anything. Why was nothing done at that stage? I would very much hope that the Commission will force Malta to uncover the truth.”
16:06:
16:05: Ana Gomes [S&D]: “In Malta, we do not see a threat to rule of law as in Hungary or Poland… we see it from financial intermediaries. It is not about the government but from deregulation, which has led Malta to become a tax haven and a proliferation of letterbox companies and selling EU citizenship.
“Caruana Galizia, being assassinated in this way, was the most glaring of this threat. Looking at the judicial authorities, we are not looking at the combination of business and financial rules. Malta has to rethink its development model and not act as a specialist in tax avoidance and money laundering.”
16:03: Werner Langen [EPP]: “The head of the socialist group seems to be shedding crocodile tears in the morning, and in the afternoon we see MEPs from the socialists defending rule of law in Malta. As long as the socialists refuse to suspend the membership of Dr Muscat, we will be losing credibility in Europe. “Malta requires massive support from the Commission and the Parliament. We will do our part.”
15:57:
15:57:
15:56: Miriam Dalli [S&D]: “Is a country without rule of law one with a law on party financing, removal of criminal libel in press law, a Whistleblowers’ act, and removal of prescription of corruption on politicians? A country where rule of law has collapsed would have secrecy, but the Financial Transparency Index says we are more transparent than Germany and Luxembourg.
“The haste to condemn Malta in this parliament without the need of an objective analysis confirms the double standards adopted in Europe.”
15:54: Roberta Metsola, EPP: “All is not well in my country today, and to remain silent is to remain complicit. Too many people have sacrificed too much not to speak as authorities pillage our children’s future. This is what the EU is all about, hope and a guarantee that the rule of law will prevail.
“Daphne Caruana Galizia was executed and her killing exposed the urgency of the situation in Malta where the ruling party has used its majority to run roughshod over the rule of law. We must say that it is outrageous that the press is under threat, that the police refuse to investigate corruption.
“There can be no true democracy with a shackled democracy. Our prime minister calls us traitors in his rallies and rails against ‘evil Europe’. Stand with us, do not let us down.”
15:50: Ignazio Corrao [EFDD]: “What is clear is that Malta is a tax paradise for EU and non-EU undertakings. There were numerous funds hidden there, and numerous crimes have been committed. It is absolutely necessary to fight the problem of libel and impunity, and to send a further mission to Malta to shed light on this issue.”
15:49:
15:48: Stelios Kouloglou [GUE-NGL}: “We don’t have to use Malta as a scapegoat to cover up our mistakes. Is Malta the only EU tax haven? The only country that facilitates tax evasion in the EU? That facilitates money laundering? All these phenomena are producing corruption, and corruption produces violence and crime. If we want to avoid crime, we must establish EU laws against tax evasions, tax havens, and money laundering. Stop the crocodile tears.”
15:46:
15:46: Sorry about that, we have now resumed the livestream on https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/live.cfm?page=2
15:42: The European Parliament live-stream has just been interrupted due to a streaming issue. We apologise.
15:42: David Casa [EPP] is next speaker.
15:41: George Mayer [ENF]: “The situation in Malta… looks more like something from Netflix’s Narcos, what with drug trafficking and a journalist murdered.”
15:39: Rolandas Paksas [EFDD]: ”A journalist’s death, irrespective of any country, should not be repeated… they should be protected from prosecution and killings. We should not use this resolution for politicising.”
15:38: Eva Joly [Greens]. “Tax rules in Malta must be changed. They are undermining the future of the European Union. The EU must go far further and bring to an end this unfair tax competition.”
15:37: HADJIGEORGIOU, Takis [GUE-NGL]: “I think there is an issue here that goes beyond the realities of Malta: the trillions that are avoided in international taxation that could bolster the coffers of the European Union. We have seen major European companies with headquarters in Malta, secretly [to avoid tax] – we must uproot this horrific system of taxation.”
15:34: Bernd Lucke [ECR]: “Does Malta have the power to implement the regulations in place and is it upholding the values of the EU.”
15:32: “This house prides itself of being strong in the defence of human rights and the rule of law… a brutal assassination has taken place, justice needs to be done. But the outcome of one murder investigation cannot be held to reflect the rule of law, in any country.
“The Malta government has repeatedly accepted to receive delegations of this parliament, indeed invited Commission scrutiny over a number of areas. Partisanship in the rule of law will undermine the moral basis of the House.”
15:30: Next speaker, Alfred Sant [S&D]
15:29: “We insinuate that the rule of law collapsed a long time ago, and that this murder is a consequence of this. The privatisation of state assets… created the conditions that led to this murder.
“The fact that a country like Azerbaijan could insinuate itself into a bank in the heart of the EU, like Pilatus, is what we should be investigating.”
15:28: Next speaker, Frank Engel [EPP]
15:27: "Malta is also governed by a criminal gang. At a time when Madrid and Warsaw are under sustained fire, I think we should be pointing our finger at who is really to blame. A delegation should be sent to Malta.”
15:26: Next speaker, Edouard Ferrand [ENF]
15:25: "This is an opportunity for Malta as a sovereign nation to expunge itself from the taint of gangsterism... this is an opportunity to honour the life and the memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia."
15:25: Next speaker, Raymond Finch [EFDD]
15:24: “Daphne was right and that’s why she died. We are accomplices if we don’t fight to the end… if we don’t do away with tax havens, bearer shares, to have transparency on the owners of stocks in private companies, and do away with the way waged on honest people, by those making millions on money laundering. We won’t be silenced.”
15:23: Next speaker, Monica Macovei [ECR]
15:22:
15:22: Giegold is also calling into question Malta's use of "hyper-low" taxation.
15:21: Giegold is calling into question how Joseph V. Bannister, head of the MFSA and recently named in the Paradise Papers, remains occupying his role when he has a clear conflict of interest in his position as head of a supervisory authority.
15:20: Next speaker, Sven Giegold [Greens]
15:19: Next speaker, Patrick Le Hyaric [GUE-NGL]
15:18: "Caruana Galizia paid for what she did with her murder. We have to stop this from happening... Mr Juncker should suspend his friendship with Mr Muscat until the state of rule of law is clarified in Malta. This situation should now lead to facts and action on our part."
15:16: Next speaker, PAGAZAURTUNDÚA RUIZ, Maite [ALDE]
15:15: "Maltese colleagues have assured me that the Maltese government has been putting all efforts in the investigation... the murder highlighted the issue of corruption, and reports on the sale of citizenship are worrisome. I do not agree that the rule of law collapsed in Malta. It is true that many other countries in the EU are facing scandals, and governments are limiting civil society rights: the case of Poland shows it should be ranked among such countries."
15:13: Next speaker, Tanja Fajon [S&D]
15:12: "We all should be ashamed, because without this killing we would have never known what is happening in Malta... journalists harassed, banks harassing media houses, police authorities refusing to investigate allegations against high-level government functionaries. Today we want three concrete actions: we want the EC to launch a rule of law dialogue with Malta, for Malta to prosecute anyone connected to money laundering, and an international and independent investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia."
15:11: Next speaker, Esteban Gonzalez Pons [EPP].
15:10: Timmermans has called on Malta to join the European Public Prosecutor's Office, saying it would send an important message on Malta's commitment to justice.
15:09: "We are now studying a comprehensive reply" - Timmermans says the Maltese have responded to demands for information on AMLD rules and questions on the functioning of the FIAU.
15:08: Timmermans says that an analysis by the EC on Malta's adherence to money-laundering rules raised no concerns, "but improvements can be made".
15:08: "More generally, Malta must show Europe and the world that its rules are healthy and robust... at every occasion to talk to members of the Maltese government, they acknowledge that they will commit to [bringing the murderers to justice ]."
15:07: "The rights of a journalist to ask uncomfortable questions is at the heart of our values, and must be defended at all times: there can be no free society without free media. Bringing these people to justice must be the top priority of the government."
15:06: Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission is now giving his address.
15:05: "We commend the government for acting immediately... equally fundamental rights have to be upheld as a guarantee for free and open societies. We trust the Maltese government will deliver justice on the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia."
15:04: First speaker is Matti Maasikas, Estonia's deputy minister for EU affairs, as a representative of the Council of Ministers, since Estonia holds the Presidency.
15:03: Welcome to our live-blog on this EP debate on the rule of law in Malta. We will be updating this blog throughout the next hour or so.
Rule of law in Malta will come under the spotlight Tuesday afternoon, as MEPs debate the issue within the European Parliament at 3pm in Strasbourg, featuring speakers from the European Commission, the European Council and MEPs, from varying parliamentary groups.

The Commission will be called on to put pressure on the Maltese government, to ensure proper functioning of the rule of law the upholding of EU values.

A resolution is expected to be co-signed by all parliamentary groups, except from the Socialists & Democrats, with the vote expected to pass with a large majority.

READ European Parliament resolution rule of law in Malta [EPP, ALDE, Greens, GUE-NGL, ERC] and European Parliament resolution rule of law in Malta [S&D]

The resolution concerns politically exposed persons and their involvement in the Panama Papers, as well as the lack of investigations into the leaked FIAU reports.

MEPs are also expected to call on the European Commission to launch an investigation to discover whether Malta is compliant with anti-money laundering directives.

The debate comes in the wake of the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder and is the second time the rule of law in Malta is being debated by the European parliament. The first was called last June, following the Panama Papers allegations.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.