The European Group of Socialists & Democrats (S&D) has lodged a complaint with the European Parliament over the way Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba was “censored” yesterday.
“I am writing to you to express my group’s strong concern regarding an incident in the CONT committee in which the S&D group was denied speaking time on an equal basis with other political groups, and when the S&D representative was finally allowed to speak, his contribution to the debate was cut short and censored in a disturbing way,” S&D president Iraxte Garcia Perez wrote to European Parliament president David Sassoli.
During a debate on the administration of EU funds in Malta yesterday, Czech MEP Tomas Zdechovsky (from the European People’s Party) tried to draw some link between Malta’s EU funds and the journalist’s murder.
“We have to check what’s happening with EU money irrespective of what we think of an individual politician, who might have been behind the death of this journalist who was investigating mafia and money laundering,” Zdechovsky said.
“Have we protected the money enough? Have we conducted enough checks? Was it behind the murder? What’s happening? We need to focus on these countries which are governed by the rule of law.”
Agius Saliba then noted that both the EU’s anti-fraud office (OLAF) and the European Commission itself had dismissed suggestions of a link between Malta’s management of EU funds and stories reported by Caruana Galizia.
“Their comments offer tangible proof that the situation which some MEPs are unfortunately trying to depict of Malta is incorrect.”
“Daphne Caruana Galizia never identified anything specific to EU funds when she was dealing with corruption cases and allegations, so I can’t understand why there are attempts to try to link her work to the management of EU funds.”
However, when he warned that Zdechovsky’s comment was nothing but an attempt to divert attention from alleged misuse of EU funds by the Czech government, the group’s chairperson – German MEP Monika Hohlmeier – warned he was speaking in the wrong committee, had exceeded his time limit and was being “impolite”.
The exchange can be found in the above video at 11:18:50
A clip of the exchange that ensued between Hohlmeier and Agius Saliba was widely shared in Malta, with PN MP Jason Azzopardi describing the MEP as “rude and incompetent.
Garcia Perez argued that Agius Saliba’s intervention was in line with protocol and that Hohlmeier, who is part of the EPP, should not have cut him off.
“I sincerely hope you will agree that such behaviour by the CONT chair is clearly unacceptable, discriminatory and contrary to the rules of procedure, and I would ask that you raise this with the CONT chair ahead of the next meetings of the Conference of Presidents and Conference of Committee Chairs,” she wrote.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.