In a letter to Prime Minister Robert Abela, EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen praised the decision taken by the Maltese Government to consult the Venice Commission and request a formal opinion on reforms related to the rule of law, which have been the subjection of contention between Malta and Brussels in the past few months.
The Commission President described this move as a positive step and a sign of Malta’s commitment to strengthen the rule of law and judicial independence. The European Commission had long been pressing Government, particularly in its annual country specific recommendations to address shortcomings in its institutional capacity and governance, as well as to enhance judicial independence.
She encouraged Government to maintain a constructive dialogue with the Venice Commission and for its recommendations to be implemented in full.
This endorsement comes at an important juncture for Malta’s reputation, particularly the upcoming Moneyval test, which could see the country grey-listing for not taking the necessary action against money laundering. Earlier this year, Transparency International warned that corruption in Malta was weakening democracy, while The Economic Intelligence Unit report described Malta as a flawed democracy for the first time.
Reacting through a recorded video statement, Prime Minister Abela welcomed the Commission’s endorsment, describing it as an indicator of the progress the country was going through. Abela noted that the EU Commission was appreciating Malta’s efforts to carry out the required changes to offer stability and peace of mind.
“The EU Commission is noting our efforts to achieve more and carry out the changes needed, so we can continue to offer stability and peace of mind,” Abela said.