'We need to be Team Malta' - Robert Abela calls for unity on immigration, golden passports scheme

He mentioned that government is currently waiting for the first decisions from Moneyval on its potential grey-listing

Photo: Partit Laburista
Photo: Partit Laburista

Prime Minister Robert Abela is calling on the Opposition to join them in supporting the newly-revamped citizenship-by-investment scheme, and appealed for further unity on the national stance towards immigration.

Addressing a weekly political activity, Abela said that it was crucial for both parties to be on the same page for these topics.

"My appeal is that, as the European Commission is evaluating the programme with its revised rules, we need to have a single position as a country. We need convergence on this programme," he said. 

Abela said that government is open to discussing any issues with the Nationalist Party, the latter of which has been highly critical at EU level with the programme.

The European Commission began infringement procedures against Malta over the infamous golden passports schemes last September, arguing that it undermines the integrity of the status of EU citizenship.

The Prime Minister had claimed that this legal action was being taken due to attacks by the Nationalist Party MEPs over the sale of passports, and that one could thank the MEPs for failing to defend Malta at EU level. 

READ ALSO: EU launches infringement procedures against Malta and Cyrpus over golden passports

Abela further extended a hand of friendship to the Nationalist Party over immigration, a topic which he said will take high priority on the government agenda at the beginning of summer. 

"As Prime Minister, I know that when we pull one rope we can get even further. Immigration is a huge challenge that our country has been facing for several years, and it will never leave," he said.

In their first cordial meeting after Bernard Grech's election as PN leader, Abela insisted that government’s stand on migration was that Malta was full-up, and accused Grech of hindering his work in the EU by saying the opposite.

Government awaits first decisions from Moneyval

Abela confirmed that Malta is currently awaiting the first decisions from Moneyval on whether it has avoided a grey-listing as a high-risk country for financial crime.

"We are waiting for the first decisions from Moneyval so that in the coming weeks and months we will have the final decisions on this subject where it is also important that we face it together as one country," he said. 

Government submitted the final report to Moneyval experts last October.

"This is an examination that is crucial for our country to pass, and I am confident that we can pass it because we have worked, not only cosmetically, but because we have really shown that this country must rise to its standards.

Malta had initially failed a first assessment from Moneyval in 2019, after which government was given a year to patch up any legislative gaps in terms of money laundering and terrorist-financing. 

READ ALSO: Robert Abela 'convinced' Malta will pass Moneyval test