Malta would not be allowed into the European Union if it were applying for membership today, Simon Busuttil has argued.

In a Talking Point published on the 15th anniversary of Malta’s membership to the EU, the MP and former Opposition leader writes that Joseph Muscat’s government “has eroded our democratic pillars to such an extent that, were we a candidate for membership today, they would simply not let us in”. 

The front page of the Times of Malta on March 10, 2003, when EU membership referendum results were announced.The front page of the Times of Malta on March 10, 2003, when EU membership referendum results were announced.

EU membership – “the single most important episode for our country since independence,” Dr Busuttil writes – has changed the course of Maltese history and opened up doors which would otherwise have remained shut, he writes.

The MP, who served as the head of the Malta-EU Information Centre during accession talks and went on to serve as an MEP, nevertheless reveals a measure of disappointment in the way the EU handled rule of law concerns about Malta.

“I expected the EU to be quicker and stronger in helping us fight the corruption,” he writes, noting that Brussels could also have done more to help Malta on immigration and on the “scandalous” citizenship scheme.

Malta’s experience, he argues, suggests that the European Union imposes anti-corruption and good governance requirements on applicants seeking to join, “but then lets down its guard after they join”.

Nevertheless, he notes, having EU citizenship is “priceless” and the balance 15 years on is undoubtedly positive.

The MP takes a dig at those who vocally and vehemently opposed EU membership, saying that 15 years on the Labour Party’s talk of “partnership” and a “Switzerland in the Mediterranean” deal still ring hollow.

“Not a single country has a partnership with the EU on the lines they promised 15 years ago,” he notes, adding that Brexit negotiations had proven how futile it was for a country to try and get the benefits of EU membership without actually joining.

Dr Busuttil also takes a dig at those who spearheaded that opposition and who now use the EU to their personal benefit.

“In a textbook case of hypocrisy and opportunism, the anti-EU brigade, led by Alfred Sant and Joseph Muscat, have now shamelessly jumped on the EU bandwagon,” Dr Busuttil writes.

Read Simon Busuttil’s opinion piece in full.

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