The Malta Independent 10 December 2018, Monday

Opinion: Impartial analysis cannot take place without balanced perspective - Miriam Dalli

Miriam Dalli Wednesday, 19 September 2018, 09:15 Last update: about 4 months ago

16 October 2017 will always be a dark day for Malta. The death of Daphne CaruanaGalizia sent shockwaves across Malta. I was horrified to learn of what happened. In Brussels, the news spread like wildfire.

Colleagues wanted to know what happened. I want to know why she was murdered and who was behind it. I believe that it is in Malta’s interest for this murder to be solved. In international media, there were claims of the murder investigation being stalled. But what happened on the ground? The FBI, Dutch experts, EUROPOL and an expert sent in from the British government were all roped in to assist with the murder investigation. Three men have been arrested as a result of this joint investigative work, with the compilation of evidence currently underway. If these three were simply contractors, we all deserve to know who the mastermind was.

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The assassination also had a snowball effect in Brussels: suddenly, MEPs started questioning the “rule of law” in Malta; they started looking at Malta with renewed interest.

Particularly, the attention on Malta’s financial services was unprecedented. MEPs from different political groups insisted even more that Malta’s taxation system needed to change – some felt that this was the right time to push for tax harmonisation. Irrespective of who was in government, Malta always believed that taxation is broadly a national competence. This is the reason why moves in favour of tax harmonisation have been resisted by smaller countries like Malta, Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands. However, with the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, a key ally on this subject would be lost.

Adding to this web of interests was the partisan political agenda of some. The Panama Papers and ongoing magisterial inquiries were mixed with the Egrant allegations - which subsequently turned out to be nothing more than a fabricated lie.

Reports, resolutions, debates in committees, visits to Malta - everything was happening altogether. I for one pushed and met with MEPs and debated during committees that not everything that was out there was factual.

I would like to share with you how I feel, particularly the way that Malta is treated in the European Parliament by certain MEPs: I get the feeling that there are MEPs who have made up their minds a long time ago; MEPs who have concluded that Malta and the Maltese are the “villains”. The feeling becomes stronger through the realisation that reforms carried out by Malta in recent years were completely ignored in the analysis carried out.

My concerns about an impartial analysis of our country are heightened when the European Parliament President himself, Antonio Tajani, compares Malta to Hungary in an effort to justify his support to Hungary. The fact that he states that Malta is worse than Hungary clearly shows he has no idea what he is going on about.

Unlike Hungary, we did not purposely change our constitutional and legal framework to muzzle the free press or weaken the judiciary or move against NGOs and research institutions. We did exactly the opposite.

A new rule of law mission is coming to Malta, after having visited Slovakia where journalist Jan Kuciakwas brutally assassinated. I believe that the more the institutions engage with Malta, the more they can see that there is absolutely no comparison with Hungary. However, without a balanced perspective, an impartial analysis cannot take place. I reiterate my belief that the delegation’s meetings with the “civil society representatives” will not be representative of society at large at all. More so, I still cannot understand why proposed names that could have brought about a balance were rejected.

Irrespective of what the mission will conclude, from where I stand, Malta is working hard to continue safeguarding rights, improve the quality of life of its citizens and ensure jobs for all.

My commitment is clear, I will continue fighting to give our citizens the country they deserve.

 

Miriam Dalli is a Member of the European Parliament

 

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