The European Union will pursue legislation that will tackle illicit enrichment, trading in influence and abuse of power in the bloc, EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen said in a state of the EU speech.
Speaking in parliament in Strasbourg, von der Leyen revealed that corruption will also be included in its sanctioning regime.
“If we want to be credible when we ask candidate countries to strengthen their democracies, we must also eradicate corruption at home,” she said.
“Corruption erodes trust in our institutions. So we must fight back with the full force of the law.”
Similar laws have already been proposed in Malta by the PN following the inquiry linked to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. However, the laws, which tackled items like unexplained wealth, was shot down by the government.
It remains to be seen how the Maltese government will respond to the proposals.
Von der Leyen’s speech also covered crucial issues linked to the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly in terms of skyrocketing energy prices.
She said that the EU plans to cap profits of electricity providers at €140 billion, ensuring that money is distributed to cover the increases.
“In our social market economy, profits are good. But in these times it is wrong to receive extraordinary record profits benefitting from war and on the back of consumers.”
In the presence of the first lady of Ukraine, von der Leyen also continued to back sanctions, insisting that “it is the time for us to show resolve, not appeasement”. Malta’s government has been at the forefront of criticism of sanctions, which it says have only crippled economies.
“We should have listened to those who know Putin. We should have listened to the voices inside our Union – in Poland, in the Baltics, and all across Central and Eastern Europe. They have been telling us for years that Putin would not stop. And they acted accordingly,” she said.
Von der Leyen will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the continuation of aid in the coming days.
Other highlights of her address included the creation of a European Hydrogen Bank which will use €3 billion to help member states set up a hydrogen-powered energy market.
The EU will also see to improving its access to critical raw materials, which von der Leyen saying is focused in China.
A new European Convention “renewing the European promise” is also on the agenda.
What do you think of the speech?