The Malta Independent 22 September 2019, Sunday

How will each MEP candidate try to resolve Malta’s reputational problem?

Kevin Schembri Orland & Albert Galea Sunday, 12 May 2019, 11:30 Last update: about 5 months ago

Malta’s international reputation has taken a hit over the past few years, following consistent scandals, one after another, which leads one to ask how our next six MEPs will work to resolve the problem.

The PN and PL have long been going head-to-head over the issue, with both sides blaming the other for the current situation. The PN argues that the government’s lack of action on scandals is to blame, while the PL argues that PN members talking about the situation abroad is to blame and also that lies are being spread abroad.

This newsroom sent a question to all the MEP candidates, asking them how they would personally go about trying to improve Malta’s reputation in the eyes of the international community.

Nine of the 10 PN MEP candidates sent an identical response, showing that the party has decided to issue a standard answer. The other MEP candidate’s answer could very well have been sent before such a decision was taken.

 

Nationalist Party

David Casa, Roberta Metsola, David Stellini, Peter Agius, Francis Zammit Dimech, Michael Briguglio, Roselyn Borg Knight, Frank Psaila, Dione Borg

The question confirms what the Nationalist Party has been saying for the past few years, ie that wrong decisions taken by the Socialist Government have tarnished Malta’s reputation in all European and international spheres. This is wrong. The Nationalist Party’s MEPs will defend Malta at all costs, like they have defended Malta against the Socialist’s labelling of Malta being a tax haven. Malta’s reputation could be fixed if the Venice Commission and the Greco recommendations are implemented not ignored. Nationalist Party’s track record confirms that it is the only Maltese political party which can ensure the best reputation for Malta and Gozo.

 

Michael Mercieca

Malta’s reputation internationally can only be fixed if the international community sees that the Maltese people are not happy with the situation. It is this reason why it is important that the Maltese send a clear message to the international community that we, the Maltese people, are not happy with the current state of affairs. If this happens and if I am elected, I commit myself to lobbying all the EU countries to support the Maltese people in getting back on our well-known reputable track.

 

Labour Party


Robert Micallef

If elected, I will do my best to work with dignity on behalf of the electorate and will advance the interests of all Maltese and Gozitans. I will adopt a consensus building approach and will do my best to build bridges with representatives from other political groups. I think that the EP should not be a space for partisan politics but a platform to seek economic and social opportunities for everyone. I will use every opportunity to remind the international community that Malta is a country based on the rule of law and is open for business. 


Lorna Vassallo

By facilitating the implementation of any recommendations by any delegation or recognised body, within or without the EU.  And by proclaiming Labour’s achievements in the last six years: most notably, the Abolishment of Prescription of Political Persons and Whistleblower’s Act as well as the implementation of Court decisions such as the Joanna Cassar case, Refund for Registration Tax on Cars and the Addition of Chairs on the Opposition Side.  If need be, by rebutting accusations in the language of our critics, be they Italian, French or German. If they don’t understand in our language they should understand in theirs.

 

Felix Galea Busuttil

Personally, I have always asked this question. Would you stain the same sofa you might one day sit on and use? And to cap it all for personal and partisan reasons? A good reputation is a hard quest to attain and a bad reputation is like a bush-fire – that can grow into gossip, fake or misleading news and human malice. The best and most efficient cure for a bad reputation is individual and continual trust, the provision of facts and truth and the non-sensationalising of news. The sincere and powerful message of every Maltese sitting in the EU parliament is his or hers undying and unmistakable love for the nation that is tactile and can easily be transmitted and felt.

 

Josianne Cutajar

In the European Parliament I want to highlight the important legislative steps to eradicate corruption, increase the level of scrutiny on public appointments, reforms in the appointment of the judiciary, the abolishment of prescription on political persons and the Whistleblower’s Act. I will make sure to reinforce Malta’s longstanding status as an idyllic investment destination, with strong democratic credentials.

 

Fleur Vella

Reputation is gained by actions not words. Explaining how our economic success was achieved and how this can be copied in other EU member states is a step towards more people understanding what is being done and the whole EU moving forward. For example, Malta was the first EU member state to implement a free childcare service. It turned out to be highly successful both in terms of uptake and its economic sustainability. Other EU member states have much to learn from us.

 

Cyrus Engerer

It’s easy to have rumours by Casa and Metsola spread around the European Parliament’s corridors like wild fire, especially when the recipients have been for years asking Malta and a few other Member States to change our stance on tax harmonisation, among others. It pays them to weaken our position. That said, the work done by the team I was leading at the Permanent Representation in conjunction with Labour’s MEPs, managed to achieve results – most notably, the change in date of the debate with the Prime Minister on the Panama Papers in 2017 and the removal of the plea to have Article 7 procedures commenced against Malta in the latest resolution on Malta and Slovakia in March 2019.

 

Miriam Dalli

I will continue doing exactly what I have been doing: standing up for Malta by saying what the facts are as the country continues to reform its laws and update its regulations. When the Rule of Law Monitoring Group presented its draft resolution to the LIBE committee for its vote, it referred a lot to the recommendations of the Venice Commission. The resolution tried to allude to a systematic breach of the rule of law – even though the Venice Commission never said that. I stood up against this twisting of facts as I stood against proposals to invoke Article 7 against Malta.

 

Alex Agius Saliba

The truth is the best tool to fight misconceptions about allegations on Malta’s legal framework. Our framework, including our Constitution, was adequate during the accession period and when Malta joined the EU. Therefore, whilst improvements can be made to it, we cannot give the impression that all of a sudden there’s no rule of law in Malta. It is also important to point out that this administration has been receptive to recommendations made for improvements and committed to implement reforms. Moreover, there’s not one single piece of legislation or instrument which was introduced by this administration that was criticised by any report on Malta. The criticism was mainly focused on legislation that has been there for a legal system that has been with us for many years.

 

Noel Cassar

Malta has been at the forefront of major reforms in the last years such as the Whistleblower Act, and the improvement of democracy and the rule of law, amongst others. However there were still MEPs who did their best to tarnish Malta’s reputation. Although I can understand the ‘jealousy’ of non-Maltese MEPs, I cannot accept the philosophy of the Maltese Parliament members representing the Nationalist Party. In fact, due to this philosophy, Malta ended up on the brink of invocation of Article 7 against ourselves, resulting in Malta being denied certain rights such as voting rights and would also affect EU funds. Furthermore coming from the financial sector, I admit that Malta’s reputation has been damaged a lot. However, my interest as a MEP is to work hard so Malta regains its positive reputation again. Moreover, I promise that I will speak for the rights of Maltese and Gozitans citizens.

 

Mary Gauci

Malta has made marked improvements in democracy and the rule of law through a number of reforms, including the Whistleblower Act, the abolition of prescription on political persons and others.

Unfortunately, unfair arguments by the Opposition MEPs based on lies have been going around with the intention to tarnish Malta’s reputation. I am sure that the 25th May election will show that the Maltese disapprove of the Opposition MEP’s irresponsible behaviour of harming the best interests of the Maltese families.

The Nationalist Party came out strongly on the invocation of Article 7 against Malta pushed forward by Greens MEP Sven Giegold. Such invocation would result in a Member state being denied certain rights such as voting rights and would also affect EU funds. This proves that the criticism against Malta by PN MEPS is just cheap partisan propaganda. My interest as an MEP would be to fight for the rights of Maltese families.  MEPs are expected to keep the government in check, but in doing so, one should not harm our country. MEPs from the Labour Party have always protected Malta’s interests.

 

Josef Caruana

Much has been said and done by the PN MEPs to try and ruin our reputation abroad and the economy locally. Fortunately, such condemnable tactics had little or no effect here. On the other hand, they sowed a dangerous situation in the EU using baseless arguments and only conjectures. This also influenced a German MEP to propose the introduction of Article 7 against our country.

The PN’s strong reaction to this invocation, after all its efforts on the same lines, proves that the criticism against Malta by the PN MEPs is just cheap partisan propaganda.

Apart from all this, there’s been an impressive improvement in democracy and the rule of law in Malta since 2013 through the introduction of laws like those regarding the financing of political parties, and whistle-blowing. These are, without a doubt, moves in the right direction that reflects only a true democracy process.

I’m quite sure that, come 25th May, the Maltese electorate would condemn all the harm the Nationalists MEPs have caused and send a strong message that endorses all the benefits our country is reaping today. If elected, I would rather work with all those of good faith, locals and foreigners, who genuinely have at heart true European values.

 

PD

Godfrey Farrugia

Malta’s reputation at present is one where we have lost our credibility and our consistency due to a number of things. First and foremost I am Maltese. I have gone out as an MEP candidate as I have my country at heart. We have to fix Malta’s image internationally by ensuring that, at a national level, we have the right checks and balances, the right separation of powers and that the government will be exemplary when it comes to accountability, transparency and good governance. More than anything else, we must cherish the values of equality and meritocracy. In the eyes of the international community, meritocracy has to be seen to be exercised.

 

Anthony Buttigieg

We need to be seen making a genuine effort to clean up our act regarding corruption, good governance and the rule of law. We can only do that by working with our European partners, not in reaction to their recommendations. I would propose that EU advisory committees of experts would work in coordination with Maltese authorities to review our Constitution, clear up loop-holes in the law and strengthen the regulatory bodies we have. The key word is ‘advisory’. Change must also come from within, not imposed, as that could lead to a backlash of anti-EU sentiment.

 

Martin Cauchi Inglott

To fix Malta’s reputation, we have to address our broken system of governance because the executive has way too much power and there are too few checks and balances. If elected, I would  focus on reforming good governance structures in Malta, to ensure clear separation of powers between the executive, legislative and the judiciary. For example, tapping into EU expertise could support us in reforming our Constitution. But I would simultaneously place serious effort on marketing Malta’s international successes, where we have frequently punched well above our weight, by emphasising our rich heritage and culture, and super skilled workforce.

 

 

AD

Carmel Cacopardo

There is no better way to fix Malta’s reputation than through a strengthening of the local institutions, which have the duty to act and bring the government to order whenever it falters. It is inevitable that the debate fuelled by the Venice Commission report and the GRECO recommendations will go on until real reform takes place. The Greens in Malta have been making the argument for institutional reform for ages. It is frustrating to be ignored until such time that your arguments are taken up (independently) by the international community. Participating in this debate is crucial in order to ensure that change happens.

 

Mina Tolu

It is difficult for the international community to have a view of Malta that is not stained blue or red. This constant tit-for-tat, blame throwing PN-PL show continues to cause a lot of harm. Automatically, when someone from the Green party is elected – who fights for transparency and the rule of law – then this will breathe new life into our politics and reputation. I would also use my position to highlight the great work done by grass-roots movements and activists to show a view of Malta that goes beyond a red-blue binary.

 

Moviment Patrijotti Maltin

Simon Borg

Our country’s reputation has been marred by irresponsible people and actions in our own country and it is therefore internally here in Malta that we must act to restore our reputation. My election as MEP would, in itself, be a clear sign that the Maltese people are opting for a change, however it is useless to attempt to cover up matters in Brussels unless serious actions are first addressed locally.

 

Naged Megally

I will fight to improve the Freedom of Journalism and speech. I will see that the case of the Late Daphne Caruana Galizia is successfully brought to justice. And I will stop the scheme of selling Maltese passport and re-investigate all of those who have obtained Maltese citizenship as to avoid any type of money laundering or any type of money coming through criminal or terrorist activities.

 

Independent candidates

Arnold Cassola

By showing that it is not the Maltese people collectively who are the cause of the bad name, but specific individuals who have misused and/or abused our institutions. Politicians like Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and Adrian Delia, who have in the past  opened hidden bank accounts in Panama and Jersey respectively;  Public Officials like Neville, Gafà' who have abused their positions and solicited bribes to issue travel visas; High officials in prestigious posts, like Joseph Bannister, who failed to ensure appropriate due diligence at MFSA when issuing licences to fraudulent companies or banks, such as Nemea Bank, SataBank and Pilatus Bank, have sullied our country’s reputation the world over in the process.

 

Antoine P. Borg

Malta’s reputation is not a matter of ‘he says, she says’ and will only be fixed once things in Malta change. Just standing up and saying nice things about the island will not suffice. As an independent candidate I know I don't have to pander to any party line so being able to fulfil the MEP role properly without fighting partisan battles in Brussels will go a huge way to showing Malta is more than the petty partisan politics we’ve displayed so far.

 

Mario Borg

According to the Lisbon Treaty, by 2022 the EU will convert into a Federation, leaving Malta as significant as one of the 22 Republics within the Russian Federation (have you ever heard of them?). By 2022, Malta’s international recognition as a country will exist no more. Before saying that the Parliament needs to abide to its Constitutional obligation of Non-military alliance and actively perusing peace to fix its reputation, The EU treaty needs to change if Malta is to continue to exist and be recognised internationally as a country. These islands need saving.

 

Stephen Florian

Tax havens and evasion, Panama Papers, 17 Black, Pilatus Bank operations and many other scams have harmed our country. The heinous assassination of an intelligent human being, mother and journalist has inflicted a deep wound in our status as a Democratic Country. The Daphne Caruana Galizia murder marks the third time in 42 years of modern Maltese history where the state has failed. More worrying is the comfortable numbness harnessed by Maltese citizens. Malta has succumbed to collective amnesia. Daphne’s tragic death has threatened Malta’s very own foundations.

Malta needs to take stock of the situation and empower independent EU institutions to conduct an on-going process of inspections and audit. The time has come to see justice being done. The key to all this would be the re-foundation of the Malta Police force into a new body which could operate freely and unhindered.

 

Joe Aquilina

A MEP’s duty is to work for the very best of his country. However, I will certainly do my utmost to see that all rules and regulations are not simply written on paper, but are strongly implemented, as I believe that politicians should be nothing else than the perfect example. Working in a professional manner and with honesty and sincerity is definitely the best way to start clarifying back Malta’s Image, therefore going on to fix our reputation. My advice is to deal with certain issues internally as, once broken, a glass can never be repaired the same again.

 

MEPs not included had not responded by the deadline provided

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