PN would oppose calls for Malta to lose voting rights in the EU

Nationalist MEP David Casa denies having lobbied MEPs to invoke Article 7 that would trigger EU action against Malta as PN leader Adrian Delia insists he would oppose it from wherever it may come

The Nationalist Party will vehemently oppose any request for the European Union to trigger Article 7 against Malta, wherever it may originate from, party leader Adrian Delia has insisted.

“I believe this would be the worst thing that could happen to Malta,” Delia told MaltaToday. “We would absolutely be against any such move, wherever it may come from, because this would be extremely devastating.”

Under Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, a country would lose certain rights secured under EU membership, including its voting rights in the European Council.

The European Council may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a member state of the values referred to in Article 2, including rule of law. The Council would consider any reasoned proposal put forward by one-third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission.

When contacted, Delia insisted the PN would fight “lock, stock and barrel” against any attempt to trigger Article 7 against Malta.

“I am not informed or aware of such a move, but even if I knew this was a mere possibility, I would immediately start a campaign to ensure this does not come about,” the PN leader said. “I cannot make this any clearer: such a move will never have my support, whoever might push for it.”

Casa denies having called for Article 7

Sources on the European Parliament’s PANA Committee, of which Nationalist MEP David Casa is also a member, told MaltaToday that Casa had recommended to his colleagues in the European People's Party (EPP) to invoke Article 7 in the case of Malta. The story was reported in MaltaToday's print edition on Wednesday.

The PANA committee was set up to investigate money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal.

In an interview in The Sunday Times of Malta, Casa denied he had asked the EPP, of which the PN forms part within the European Parliament, to recommend that the Council trigger Article 7 because of an alleged failure of the rule of law in Malta.

Reacting to the story on Wednesday morning, Casa again denied the information: "I have been clear and consistent against invoking Article 7. My position on this issue has been clear and consistent publicly, within the EP and in the PN parliamentary group."

Casa said that he has worked relentlessly to make sure the European Commission should start a dialogue with Malta but insisted he never considered remotely the triggering of Article 7.

"All this talk of Article 7 would have been avoided had the Prime Minister heeded calls made by the PN and civil society to take action against his minister [Konrad Mizzi] and chief of a staff [Keith Schembri] who were caught with secret companies in Panama," Casa said.

He explained that as head of delegation he consulted the PN on the subject on more than one occasion.

"Following the publication of MaltaToday’s story this morning I spoke with our leader Adrian Delia who reaffirmed his full support for my work in defending Malta along with my colleagues in the EP," Casa said.

The MEP has claimed to be in possession of a report penned by the Financial Investigation and Analysis Unit pointing to evidence of money laundering within Pilatus Bank. Last week, Casa said he gave the European Central Bank further evidence on Pilatus, which he claimed went beyond “merely flouting” anti-money laundering rules.

Casa had called for the withdrawal of the bank’s licence through a complaint filed on 25 November last year. He also asked for the bank to be taken over by the ECB.