Abela votes in favour of EU defence, on condition of safeguards to neutrality

Tables turn after Abela accused the Opposition and EP President Metsola of ‘warmongering’ over calls to increase defence expenditure

Robert Abela at the European Council summit in Brussels
Robert Abela at the European Council summit in Brussels

Prime Minister Robert Abela has joined EU leaders in calling for increased defence expenditure after obtaining two clauses calling for respect towards each country’s security and defence policy.

Speaking in Brussels, Abela said that his government approached the European Council summit with clear reservations.

“From the beginning, and on a technical level, we raised concerns on the need to conform with our constitution, particularly to two main constitutional principles: neutrality and non-alignment,” Abela said.

“We were clear that the conclusions did not respect this, and so we were clear that if we wanted to support these conclusions, we needed clear safeguards on conformity with our constitution.”

He said that his government requested a written legal opinion from the State Advocate to ensure that the conclusions reflected our constitution.

“We also made our position clear with the President of the European Parliament that that parliament also needs to respect these safeguards, and that it should not put forward legislation that does not respect this,” he said, in a slight dig towards Roberta Metsola.

In February, Abela was speaking at a Labour Party gathering in Bormla when he accused the Opposition of warmongering. This was in reaction to calls by European Parliament president Roberta Metsola for the EU to step up defence spending.