MEPs in Malta on a rule of law fact-finding mission have flagged the country's "very slow judicial process" as an issue they are still concerned about. 

In a meeting with the Prime Minister and several ministers at Castille, Dutch MEP Sophie in't Veld, who is chairing the delegation, said that while, overall, it seemed like " a lot has been done" in several areas deemed problematic in past missions, the "very slow judicial process is still an issue". 

"Overall impression is that a lot has been done when it comes to appointments, judiciary, FIAU... these have really improved, and we can see things are moving. There are still a number of issues where progress is needed and more needs to be done," she said.

Journalists were only allowed to follow the first few minutes of in't Veld opening speech, before being ushered out. In contrast, they were allowed to follow all of Prime Minister Robert Abela's introductory remarks.

The MEPs are in Malta to take stock of the latest developments as regards the rule of law, judicial reforms, the safety of journalists, anti-corruption measures and citizenship and residence by investment schemes. 

The MEPs are also meeting the president, the attorney general, the speaker and MPs as well as journalists, members of civil society, NGOs, Daphne Project representatives and the family of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Speaking before the MEP, Abela said that since he took over in January 2020, rule of law has been a priority for the government. 

"In my opinion, I humbly believe that the biggest change since 2020 was the shift in attitude and cultural approach towards the rule of law. We want to attract serious investment and this can be done with a robust rule of law," Abela said. 

He also gave a rundown of the reforms carried out by the government in recent years, namely those related to judicial appointments, the splitting up of the attorney general and state advocate roles and the appointment of the police commissioner and the chief justice. 

The prime minister also told MEPs he hoped that come June, Malta will be off the FATF's greylist, especially since most of the issues raised in the action plan had been addressed. 

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