Malta has joined other EU Member States in approving a significant new proposed directive aimed at improving the EU’s legal tools to combat terrorism.
Speaking during a Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting of EU Justice Ministers held today, the Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici stated that Malta considers the fight against terrorism a priority and that, as such, it fully supports the entire rationale behind the new directive.
In the past months, a number of legislative changes have been introduced locally through Act VIII of 2015 which, to all intents and purposes, implements the directives of the most recent United Nations resolutions on the matter.
The approval of a Council position means that the proposed directive will now be negotiated with the European Parliament before becoming EU law. The aim of the proposal is to strengthen the EU’s legal framework in preventing terrorist attacks by criminalising preparatory acts such as training, travelling abroad for terrorist purposes, as well as aiding and abetting, inciting or attempting such acts.
Minister Bonnici thanked the Dutch Presidency of the council of the EU for pushing forward the proposal so effectively, and expressed his hope that an agreement with the European Parliament will be reached quickly.
Ministers also discussed progress made in negotiations over two proposals which will form part of the EU’s Digital Single Market. The first concerns the supply of digital content, while the second has to dowith the online and distance sale of goods. The Digital Single Market will be a priority for Malta during its Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2017.
During the meeting, Ministers continued to debate on aspects of ongoing negotiations to establish the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), particularly with regard to the financial implicationsinvolved.
There were also discussions on the Matrimonial Regimes package. Malta has been on the forefront of this issue, along with a group of other 16 EU Member States, by proposing enhanced co-operation in view of reservations held by two Member States on the package.
The effect of the package would be that of making it easier for couples engaged in heterosexual or same-sex marriages, unions or partnerships to register their status in other EU countries.
Minister Bonnici held a bilateral meeting with Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice and Consumers and Gender Equality. The two discussed preparations for the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU and the dossiers which are likely to feature on the justice agenda during the upcoming months.
At the start of the council, ministers paid respect to the victims of terrorism and their families by observing a minute of silence.