Malta is moving towards having Article 7 triggered against it, which would suspend its voting rights in the EU, MEP Monica Macovei has warned.

“We don’t want Malta out of the EU, just for it to respect the rules and include a real separation of powers and efficient law enforcement,” the Romanian MEP said.

Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union is a procedure in the treaties of the European Union to suspend certain rights for a member state. Triggering the article is seen as one of the harshest courses of action by the EU against a country.

Malta also needed to strengthen its fight against money laundering, corruption and tax evasion, Ms Macovei said, adding that equality before the law between politicians and ordinary citizens must be “real and seen by all”.

The MEP has insisted that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat should resign in the wake of revelations by the Daphne Project.

The project is a collaboration by more than 18 international media organisations dedicated to continuing the work of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Watch: MEPs pass resolution on rule of law in Malta with large majority

She expressed frustration that “nothing happened” in the six months since Ms Caruana Galizia was killed.

I feel that a lot of things are wrong in Malta at the moment

Ms Macovei, who was part of the first European Parliament delegation on the rule of law that came to Malta last November, lamented that the report prepared by the delegation had fallen on deaf ears.

“It was ignored completely,” she said, adding that the reasons for the delegation to revisit Malta had escalated in the last few months.

A second rule of law delegation is expected to visit Malta.

Ms Macovei noted that an urgent update from local institutions, particularly the banking supervisory authority and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, was needed.

She also lamented that Pilatus Bank had not provided the information it was asked for during the first visit to the country.

“We confirmed that the bank has Azeri clients, but they would not give us the percentage of how many clients are from that country,” she noted.

Ms Macovei expressed concern that the FIAU had changed its IT systems late at night, adding that it did not look like the unit was working independently.

Watch: Jonathan Ferris shows up at FIAU offices following rumoured IT server shake-up

“I feel that a lot of things are wrong in Malta at the moment. The Prime Minister has too many powers to appoint people or to veto decisions,” she said, adding that a clearer separation of powers was needed in the country.

She went on to draw comparisons between the situation in Malta and Slovakia. The Slovak Prime Minister and police chief resigned following the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak in February.

“I would expect the same to happen in Malta,” she said.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us