Prime Minister Robert Abela has vehemently denied claims that Malta dropped its opposition to a financial transaction tax in exchange for a more generous EU budget.

“This is just a proposal by the European Commission and Malta’s objection against such measure has not changed,” Abela said in parliament on Wednesday.

He was delivering a statement on the €2.25 billion budget agreement sealed in Brussels on Tuesday for the next seven years until 2027.

The Prime Minister said that Malta had secured an even better deal than the previous seven-year budget (2013 and 2020), despite starting from a disadvantaged position.

Abela noted that Malta’s robust economic growth in recent years meant that the initial allocation proposed by the European Commission in 2018 was a net gain of €242 million.

However, Malta succeeded in negotiating a much better deal as the net gain of the final agreement was of €1.035 billion.

Abela made this point in the wake of the remarks by Opposition leader Adrian Delia that the government was not giving the full picture of the situation.

Allocation and contribution doubled - Adrian Delia

“While the overall allocation doubled, this is also the same for Malta’s contribution, which means that the net gain is roughly equivalent to the previous seven-year budget,” Delia said.

The Opposition leader added that one of the criteria underlying the allocation of funds was the rule of law in the respective member states. He warned that enacting laws and reforms was not enough.

“We have reached a stage where the government has not only corrupted the country’s institutions but is also destroying society’s moral fibre,” he remarked.

Delia also called for increased efforts to combat climate change, while noting that no measures had been taken since parliament had approved a resolution declaring a climate emergency.

Opposition MPs Claudio Grech, Kristy Debono and Mario de Marco asked about the government’s position on the introduction of a financial transaction tax, because, according to the summit’s conclusions, this was one of the possible new streams of revenue.

However, the Prime Minister insisted Malta had made no commitments in this regard, saying it was still objecting to such proposal.

As for the rule of law, Abela called on the Opposition to support a series of constitutional amendments requiring a two-thirds parliamentary majority, which will be put to the vote in a week’s time.

These reforms are in line with the recommendations made by the group of experts of the Council of Europe, known as the Venice Commission.

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