Maltese MEPs Roberta Metsola and Miriam Dalli agreed on Tuesday that a proposed mechanism on rule of law breaches impacting eligibility for EU funds and voting rights within the bloc, would ensure the same rules apply to all countries. 

The proposed mechanism will determine whether those member states which breach rule of law would be eligible for EU funds. Annual reports for the member states would be drafted under the proposed mechanism and used to decide whether to trigger infringement procedures, including a restriction of voting rights, or to apply the proposed EU budget 'conditionality tool'.

Speaking during an online press conference on Tuesday, the MEPs both said the mechanism would ensure that the EU’s values are better safeguarded. 

“The starting point is values. Those who want to join the EU must make sure they follow certain values and it cannot be that the same values are ignored once a country joins EU. Those are benchmarks needed to implement laws and also to distribute funds,” Metsola, a PN MEP, said. 

On her part, Labour MEP Dalli said the mechanism would also ensure that the same standard applies to all countries. Both acknowledged that poorer countries often tend to argue they are being targeted more than other member states.  

“That is why the new mechanism is crucial because it will put all countries on the same page,” Metsola said.

On the state of Malta’s rule of law, Dalli said that the EU’s rule of law report, published last week, had acknowledged the island’s progress, with Brussels daily Politico including Malta in its list of “best practice” countries. 

Metsola said that had it not been for the European Parliament putting pressure on the government, there would not have been any reforms that address shortcomings in Malta’s rule of law. 

On the climate law, currently being debated by the European Parliament with the stated aim of reducing harmful emissions, Dalli acknowledged Malta needs to do more to meet its targets. 

“Had everything been in place, we would not need to be working on this. For us to be carbon neutral by 2050, we need to start planning now. I am confident that when we have climate law, we will do more,” she said. 

Joseph Muscat's resignation

Reacting to Joseph Muscat’s decision to resign from parliament, both MEPs said this did not come as a surprise since the former prime minister had already said he would be giving up his seat. 

“This was something that was expected, I personally didn’t know it was to happen yesterday, but he had already said he would be stepping down,” Dalli said. 

Meanwhile, Metsola said the decision “could not have come soon enough”, saying Muscat continued to defend the indefensible until the end. 

“Had he left before, our reputation would not have been as damaged as it is. History will judge him for defending the indefensible. Just because he resigned doesn’t mean the story ends here,” she said. 

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