European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has welcomed Malta’s plans to reform rule of law provisions and described the Venice Commission’s positive endorsement of the plans as “very encouraging”. 

In a letter to Prime Minister Robert Abela, von der Leyen said she was pleased to see that Malta had consulted the Council of Europe body on its planned reforms and urged the Maltese government to continue its dialogue with the Venice Commission to ensure recommended reforms were fully implemented.

“I see it as a positive step and a sign of the commitment of the Maltese Government to strengthening the rule of law and judicial independence,” she wrote. 

Ursula von der Leyen's letter to Robert Abela.Ursula von der Leyen's letter to Robert Abela.

The letter published by the government on Tuesday was dated July 9 and features a personal flourish from the EU Commission president, who addressed the Maltese prime minister with a handwritten “dear Robert”.

Malta’s proposed set of rule of law reforms was given the green light by the Venice Commission last month, which said that the vast majority of Malta’s proposals were acceptable but that more work needed to be done to ensure a proper system of checks and balances in the country. 

Since then, the government has presented bills in parliament which would transform some of those proposals into law. 

The EU Commission has also noted that Malta must strengthen its institutional capacity and governance, highlighting judicial independence and the fight against money laundering as being especially critical. 

Robert Abela's video message in reaction to von der Leyen's letter. Video: Government of Malta

In a video reaction released on Tuesday, Robert Abela said that the country was moving forward and welcomed von der Leyen’s endorsement of Malta’s reform plans. 

“The EU Commission is noting our efforts to achieve more and carry out the changes needed, so we can continue to offer stability and peace of mind,” Abela said.  

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