Muscat: ‘Panama debate shows PN MEPs have learned nothing from election

Joseph Muscat: 'PN MEPs are playing the same broken record that the people have rejected...they learned nothing from the election'

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the Nationalist Party’s MEPs “have learnt nothing” from Labour’s landslide election victory after they tore into his corruption record during a debate at the European Parliament on the rule of law in Malta.

“They are playing the same broken record that the people have rejected…we heard nothing new from them today,” Muscat told the press at the end of the debate in Strasbourg.

Muscat has portrayed the debate as “an early test” for the PN to show that it had learned not to repeat its pre-electoral tactics of tarnishing Malta’s name overseas. However, PN MEPs David Casa and Roberta Metsola used the debate to argue that their criticism of government corruption in the European Parliament was ultimately in Malta’s best interests.

“Muscat’s second term as Prime Minister didn’t start out on a good note and indeed he re-appointed corrupt politicians [Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri],” Casa had said. “He now has a choice – whether to go down in history as Malta’s most corrupt Prime Minister or whether to sort this mess out. I love Malta, and it’s because I love Malta that I will continue speaking out whenever I see our institutions getting weakened. Prime Minister, I urge you to stop approving corruption but to instead join us in our fight against criminals and corruption.”

Metsola similarly dismissed accusations that she is betraying Malta by speaking against corruption at EU-level.

“We would be traitors if we did not speak about the issues…I am proud to be Maltese, and I will continue defending my country both in Malta and in the EU.”

Muscat told the press that the tone of the debate clearly showed that it had been instigated by the Nationalist Party, and indeed described it as “normal debate for European Parliament debates that are instigated politically”.

“I am glad that majority of the EP’s political groups had agreed last month that this debate shouldn’t have been held in the middle of Malta’s election campaign.”

Muscat said he welcomed an investigation by the European Commission, requested by the European Greens’ Party, on whether Malta was in breach of EU money laundering directives when the police failed to act on four damning FIAU reports.

“I’m totally confident that we are in conformity with the money laundering directive, and if the European Commission vetted our system I am sure it will only serve to strengthen our hand,” he said. “That being said, I respect the Greens because for them it is a matter of principle against our taxation system. We disagree with them, but at least we know where we stand with them.”

German Green MEP Sven Giegold
German Green MEP Sven Giegold

Green MEP: ‘Muscat failed to address concrete issues’

German MEP Sven Giegold, from the European Greens political group, told MaltaToday that Muscat had failed to address the concrete issues in his speech at the European Parliament.

“Muscat missed the point…he did not answer why the police failed to act on FIAU reports, whether the police had blocked other FIAU reports, why Nexia BT failed to conduct necessary due diligence on Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, and whether he believes [MFSA] head Joe Bannister has a conflict of interest in his role as chairperson of Finance Malta,” he said. “Muscat spent a lot of time talking about everything but the substance of the debate, which was Malta’s rule of law. His reaction makes me even more suspicios, because it shows that he isn’t willing to even address our concerns.”