A European Parliament motion is set to pile pressure on the European Commission to begin dialogue with the Maltese government under the rule of law framework.

The framework is designed to prevent emerging threats to the rule of law escalating to levels where certain EU membership rights are suspended for a member state under the Article 7 provision of the EU treaty.

The motion will be presented in plenary after a cross-party delegation of MEPs expressed concern about the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination following a visit to Malta earlier this month.

In the draft motion seen by Times of Malta, MEPs express their regret that the European Commission in recent years refrained from taking any concrete measures towards the government.

The motion, which will be finalised on Tuesday, raises concerns about how developments in Malta in recent years led to “serious and persistent threats to the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights”.

These include freedom of the media, the independence of the police and judiciary, the freedom of peaceful assembly and the lack of appropriate constitutional guarantees in respect of the separation of powers.

Serious and persistent threats to the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights

The motion is expected to keep up the pressure on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to step away from the murder investigation. It stresses the need to exclude any risk of compromise, whether real or perceived, to the murder investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

This risk persists as long as Dr Muscat remains in office, the motion says.

It notes the widespread negative perceptions about the government’s actions with regard to the investigation, as well as the failing trust and credibility in Malta’s institutions.

The draft motion also touches upon concerns about numerous other investigations into related cases of money laundering and corruption, especially those involving the prime minister’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri and former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi. It calls on the Maltese authorities to launch and advance such investigations.

Two Keith Schembri inquiries into money laundering and corruption allegations led by magistrates Natasha Galea Sciberras and Josette Demicoli have been ongoing for over two-and-a-half years. In comparison, the Egrant inquiry ordered by Dr Muscat was concluded within 15 months.

The motion notes how the full Egrant inquiry report has not yet been published.

If approved, the motion will also call on the United Arab Emirates to cooperate with the Maltese and European authorities and to ensure that 17 Black’s funds remain frozen until a thorough investigation has been conducted.

The motion for a resolution will be discussed in plenary on Tuesday. A vote on the motion will take place on Thursday.

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