Almost four years down the line, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination is still causing controversy in the European Parliament.
Earlier today, MEPs in the Committee on Budgetary Control convened to discuss the “administration of EU funds in shared management in Malta”.
While it might sound like a mundane topic, Czech MEP Tomas Zdechovsky (from the European People’s Party) stirred the waters when he tried to draw some link between Malta’s EU funds and the journalist’s murder.
The exchange can be found in the above video at 11:18:50
“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.”
Labour MEP Alex 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.”
He then took it up a notch, warning that Zdechovsky’s comment was nothing but an attempt to divert attention from alleged misuse of EU funds by the Czech government.
However, he was shot down by the chairperson – German MEP Monika Hohlmeier – who warned that he was speaking in the wrong committee, had exceeded his time limit and was being “impolite”.
“Daphne’s murder obviously raised questions in respect to how national authorities are set up and if they can do their job independently and what possibilities OLAF have to access bank accounts, which Malta has refused for years,” Hohlmeier said.
The clip of this exchange was widely shared in Malta, with PN MP Jason Azzopardi mocking Agius Saliba as “rude and incompetent”.
“Labour makes you ashamed,” he said.
Former PN MEP candidate Peter Agius accused Agius Saliba of treating the European Parliament like a PL party club.
Agius Saliba then filed a complaint against Hohlmeier to the Socialists and Democrats Group, which proceeded to report the German MEP to European Parliament President David Sassoli.
“If Monika Hohlmeier wants to act the bully, she can find another role but not use her position as chairperson to do something shocking (pastażata) like did today. Rest assured that no political bully, be they Maltese or German, will bother me. I will keep defending Malta everywhere.”
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.
What do you make of this exchange?