Sant: partisan MEPs instrumentalised rule of law to criticise Labour government

Labour MEP accuses MEPs of using alleged breaches of rule of law to foment criticism directed at government

Labour MEP Alfred Sant
Labour MEP Alfred Sant

Labour MEP Alfred Sant has indirectly accused Opposition MEPs of having politicised allegations of breaches of EU fundamental values against Malta.

In a debate in Brussels on a mechanism for a rule of law and fundamental rights, Sant insisted on the need for an “objective, fair, transparent and deliberate” mechanism to correct breaches of fundmantal values in the EU.

Malta has been the subject of debates by MEPs calling into question the rule of law under the Labour administration since the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, as well as over its sale of EU citizenship through its Individual Investor Programme.

“The European Parliament cannot allow procedures by which allegations of breaches in fundamental values in EU member states are investigated to be politicised and made suspect.

“The risk has increased that allegations of breaches of our fundamental values get instrumentalised from within polities for partisan reasons. They are then promoted at European levels to foment criticism directed at the government of the day. I have seen this happening for my country Malta. And in this House. I cannot rule out that it might be happening for other Member States.”

Sant said assessing whether democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights are being breached systemically depended on an analysis of proven, available facts.

“It also frequently depends on subjective points of views adopted for political and other reasons that filter into the assessments being made. Unless this is recognized, there can be no worthwhile approach to spotlighting and correcting breaches. Mutual trust among Member States and their legal systems underpins what the EU stands for. Yet the ideological consensus that used to prevail among Member States seems to be breaking down.”

Sant had refused to vote on a censure motion against Hungary for undermining the European Union’s core values, drawing parallels with the Maltese experience of the last year.

The European Parliament voted to start punitive action against Hungary for flouting the rule of law. The motion was the first time ever the European legislature triggered the procedure against an EU member state. The same procedure was launched by the European Commission against Poland in December 2017.

But Alfred Sant told the European Parliament that the politicised manner by which the European Parliament investigates governance issue “nullified” the credibility and legitimacy of such investigations and that similar investigations on Malta were “crassly biased and Maltese NGOs chosen in a partisan and one-sided way.”

Sant said that he disagreed with a number of the policies followed by the Hungarian government for their illiberal and authoritarian orientation.

“However I do not believe that the procedures adopted in this House to consider and pass judgement on governmental decision-making in our member states are objective, transparent or fair.

“I say so from personal knowledge of how such procedures are being applied in the case of my country, Malta, where the methods and approaches being followed by members of this Parliament to examine governance issues, are crassly biased. This has happened to the extent that when so-called NGOs are consulted about the situation in the country, they are chosen in a partisan and one sided way.”

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