Minister's secret Panama company an eminently European affair, Busuttil tells diplomats

The leader of the Opposition tells foreign diplomats that European inaction on corruption and other issues that matter to people will lead to a walk towards the precipice of a Brexit

Busuttil: People expect better from the European Union
Busuttil: People expect better from the European Union

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil this afternoon told members of the Diplomatic Corps that the European Union must listen to the people in order to be a Europe of the people.

Speaking to foreign diplomats at the annual exchange of New Year greetings with members of the Diplomatic Corps, Busuttil said that his intervention in Parliament last week, where he criticised the Commission for not taking a stand on corruption and the Panama Papers, was not only intended to reflect people’s disappointment. “I do not want to see people distance themselves from the European Union as we know now that this leads to a walk towards the precipice of a Brexit,” he said. 

"I believe that having a minister with a secret company in Panama, chairing the Energy Council of the European Union, is not an internal affair. It is an eminently European affair because it gives the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the Commission and the Council are implicitly agreeing with or accepting what has happened,” said Busuttil.

He said that people expect better from the European Union and that the Commission dismissing the PN’s concerns with the mantra that corruption it is an internal affair, will no longer “wash with the people.”

He said that he is happy to welcome to Malta a delegation from Europe that will be investigating issues "that erupted from the Panama Papers affair," adding that he is certain "they will find their visit to Malta very interesting.”

Busuttil also expressed his disappointment at the fact that the UK had voted to leave the European Union, and that they seem to be opting for a ‘hard Brexit.’ He said that it was ironic that Malta, previously a British colony, will be the country that receives the Article 50 letter, adding that it was now important for the EU to ensure that Brexit remains a one-off occurrence.

Busuttil said that 2017 will be a special, and extremely interesting year for the country, both in terms of domestic politics and international politics on the domestic front, as well as internationally.

“We are in the final year of the government’s term and this means that parties are preparing, to be election ready, and there are many pleasures yet to come,” said Busuttil, adding the Nationalist Party is gearing up and “looking forward to be an active player in [the country’s] democracy.”

Turning to the Maltese presidency of the Council of Europe, Busuttil said that the PN was very proud of the presidency and supportive of the issues on the agenda, especially immigration, because “it is a longstanding issue that must be resolved once and for all.”

He said that it was his hope that Malta can confirm the tradition, that the smallest countries preside over the most important presidencies.

The Opposition leader also said that it was ironic that the presidency is being led by someone who campaigned against the Malta joining the EU, adding that he was happy however that the PN has managed to convert the Prime Minister.

Finally, Busuttil said that he was happy to announce that the Nationalist Party will be hosting, for the first time, the congress of the European People’s Party (EPP).

“I am proud to announce that on the 29 March, we will be hosting, for the first time, the congress of the EPP, which will bring leaders from all the EPP parities across Europe to Malta, along with some 1,000 EPP delegates and hundreds of journalists,” he said. 

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