The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Council of Europe calls for ‘comprehensive and holistic reform’ of Malta’s institutions

Thursday, 23 June 2022, 18:50 Last update: about 3 days ago

The Council of Europe has called for a “comprehensive and holistic reform” of Malta’s democratic institutions and its system of checks and balances, saying that this is something which is urgently needed.

The recommendation was part of a resolution which was approved on Thursday and which came as part of a monitoring process which looks into whether Malta is honouring its membership obligations.

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The resolution, which was penned by co-rapporteurs Bernard Fournier (from France) and George Loucaides (from Cyprus), prefaced its conclusions with the observation that the developments following the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia “brought to light a deeply rooted political and social polarisation in the Maltese society and a systemic malfunctioning of democratic institutions in the country.”

The opinion of the Venice Commission on the constitutional system of checks and balances and the independence of the judiciary, as well as the report of the independent public commission established by the authorities following Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination were a watershed moment for the country, the resolution observed.

The resolution stated that the Maltese authorities and Parliament reacted with the adoption of a series of what they described as welcome reforms to address the shortcomings in the democratic and rule of law institution.

“While these reforms constitute marked progress, they only partially address the concerns and shortcomings that were noted. A comprehensive and holistic reform of Malta’s democratic institutions and system of checks and balances is still urgently needed,” the resolution reads.

“A key aspect of these reforms should be a far-reaching reform of the Maltese Parliament, with a view to establishing a full-time parliament that can provide proper parliamentary oversight and regain legislative initiative,” it continues.

They said that this would also allow Malta to address a series of important vulnerabilities of its political institutions to conflicts of interest and corruption.

The resolution welcomed the fact that the need for a holistic reform of Malta’s democratic institutions, including its Parliament, are supported by all the main political forces in Malta, and indeed by a considerable majority in Malta’s society.

It said that it is convinced that the Council of Europe can assist Malta to draft and implement the aforementioned reforms, and recommended that the Monitoring Committee present its next periodic review on the honouring of membership obligations by Malta no later than five years from now.

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