Malta has, as we all well know, seen considerable pressure to adjust its attitude and re-align itself with progressive EU values.
GRECO, Moneyval, the Venice Commission, the PACE report by MEP Pieter Omzigt, the European Parliament – they’ve all made it clear that PM Joseph Muscat’s position is untenable and that there is significant reform needed. Yet it has seemingly all fallen on deaf ears. He harbours crooks, he thwarts the rule of law, and he stokes division.
NGOs, numerous petitions, pleas from popular voices – none of it will move the Prime Minister or his cronies to really appraise their position (and Malta’s reputation) and to act decisively in any way shape or form.
We know that Malta is making its position very clear here, and the position is one of a petulant bully throwing a tantrum. The Labour administration is proudly mulish, intractable, uncompromising. They are stating, in unequivocal terms, that they do not share the EU’s values or vision of a healthy functioning democracy.
But an autocrat cannot maintain this position if he is dependent on the EU for funding. Which is why it is his stated aim to ensure that Malta pursue others sources of revenue that are free of the checks and balances that are, in theory at least, advocated by the Union.
And so Muscat’s rhetoric goes “Malta needs to aspire to being one of the best performers in the EU and to be in a situation that it does not need help to grow.” (Maltatoday).
I think a translation of this is needed, and the inimitable BugM on twitter provides one:
Muscat seems to be publicly stating that he hopes to set Malta on a path that severs it from most financial, legal, and ethical obligations to the EU.
When the express aim is to be an EU member in name but not in substance, the inevitable question is: what’s the EU going to do about it?