Malta Emerges as the EU’s Next Problem Child

Source: Spiegel

Michael Vella, father of late Daphne Caruana Galizia, holding a portrait of his late daughter at a protest demanding justice for her.

Malta, the European Union’s smallest member state, generally stays out of the headlines. Two-and-a-half years ago, DER SPIEGEL and other European media outlets involved with European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) published the “Malta Files,” which revealed how German companies were able to save on taxes by establishing themselves on the island. Beyond that, not much tends to be written about the country and its 475,000 residents.

Now, though, dubious links between Maltese business leaders, politicians and organized crime have become visible, and it increasingly looks as though Malta operates by a different rulebook than the rest of the EU. The separation of powers in the country appears to be largely non-existent, with police doing the bidding of politicians and the anti-money-laundering agency joining the judiciary in turning its back all too often on malfeasance, instead of investigating, prosecuting and punishing criminal behavior.

Alarmed, the European Parliament sent a delegation to Malta a few days ago, with the European Commission in Brussels warning the country’s government to refrain from exerting political influence on the investigation. The murder of Caruana Galizia, it would seem, is no longer just a problem for Maltese politics. It is now emerging as an acute threat to European values, the rule of law, the freedom of the press and a rules-based market economy. Ultimately, it is about how many banana republics the EU can tolerate within its ranks.


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