Pursuing the change she triggered – Peter Agius

Pursuing the change she triggered – Peter Agius

If you are Maltese or passionate about the country, then probably you will never forget where you were on that darkest of days, October 16, 2017, when right after 3pm the news spread that Daphne Caruana Galizia – Malta’s top investigative journalist, leader of opinions in her own right – had been brutally murdered in a car explosion not far from her home in Bidnija.

I remember October 16 as the day I got scolded by Antonio Tajani. I was in my office in Brussels when the news unfolded, and for the next two hours I stood there unable to believe what I was reading.

I continuously refreshed the online news websites, hoping that everyone was getting it wrong, and that, somehow, Daphne was still alive and would soon update her blog, which had by then a readership that dwarfs that of national newspapers.

Incredulous as I was, frozen on that keyboard, it did not cross my mind to inform my boss, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who was in his office a few steps away. It was a foreign MEP who gave him the news some time later and he quickly came to ask me why on earth I had left him in the dark.

Daphne’s murder was a wake-up call for Europe – that it cannot lower its guard on freedom of expression and media freedom.

Side-by-side with Tajani, in the weeks following her murder, we honoured Daphne Caruana Galizia in the proper way, the way she was not here on her motherland.

Tajani took Daphne’s murder personally.

As a journalist himself, he shared the outrage of the Maltese people and the deep sense of loss and anxiety for media freedom in Malta.

He wanted to be here with us on the day of the last farewell at the rotunda in Mosta. He proposed the naming of the main press room of the European Parliament, the heart of European democracy, in her honour. And on that occasion, in front of her family, he called Daphne a soldier of democracy, a warrior of freedom of expression.

It was not the only speech delivered in honour of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

As long as the government keeps sweeping candles and holding back a public inquiry, we are obliged to keep the heat on

He had opened the speech to the leaders of the European Council with a strong message calling on Maltese authorities to come to the end of this killing. On that day, migration, economy, Brexit, all came second-stage.

In the European Parliament it was clear that Europe cannot and must not tolerate such a murder.

Tajani and many others took it to task to lead a truly European response to this dark moment in modern European history.

The European Parliament has since put pressure on the European Commission with a resolution to protect investigative journalism. There are concrete measures in the pipeline to sustain investigative journalists seeking the truth and to push forward an anti-SLAPP EU Directive, to make sure that no Pilatus Bank, no corrupt politician and no criminal in hiding, would ever be able to silence investigative journalists with vexatious lawsuits.

In the next European Parliament we must pursue the change that she triggered.

I would have loved for this to be also a national agenda rather than just a European one, but as long as the government keeps sweeping candles and holding back a public inquiry, we are obliged to keep the heat on to reach to the masterminds of this affront to democracy.

Today, 19 months following that darkest day, we again commit our resolve to never forget what Daphne gave her life for and to pursue the change that she triggered. To never tire to seek the truth, no matter how difficult the task may seem.

Above all, we commit ourselves that we won’t stop before those behind Daphne’s murder are brought to justice.

We don’t only owe that to her and her family. We owe it to our children. We owe it to our national conscience.


Read the full article as published on Times of Malta here.

PN MEP Criticises Malta’s Electoral Commission As He Raises Awareness Of Foreign Voters’ Rights In Elections

PN MEP Criticises Malta’s Electoral Commission As He Raises Awareness Of Foreign Voters’ Rights In Elections

Maltese PN MEP candidate Peter Agius has launched a multi-language appeal to get foreign voters aware of their rights for the upcoming European Parliament and local council elections.

All expats from European Union countries have the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in local and European elections held in their country of residence.

Speaking in both Italian and French, Agius explained how EU citizens can check whether they are eligible voters through the electoral register and apply by sending a form to the commission’s offices in either Valletta or Victoria, Gozo.

Registration forms must be submitted by 30 March.


Read full article on LovinMalta : https://lovinmalta.com/news/news-politics/mep-criticises-maltas-electoral-commission-as-he-raises-awareness-of-foreign-voters-rights-in-elections?fbclid=IwAR02NrnRM5g7XJdnx1X4jCEAkS7iWOdbG5hrsxtwF5Ow5xFdv5R9js4FJvo 

Maltese problems, European solutions?

Maltese problems, European solutions?

The European People’s Party’s election of Manfred Weber as candidate for European Commission President to replace Jean Claude Juncker is good news for the Maltese people. Should Weber take the commission seat, we will count on a long-standing friendship, his ability to bridge different interests and his known attachment for the priorities of every country, irrespective of its size.

As a candidate of the Nationalist Party for the next MEP elections, I analyse Weber’s candidature for its relevance to provide solutions to the Maltese.

Since I started campaigning, I have met people from all walks of life, from farmers to entrepreneurs, from civil servants to manual workers. With all of these I discuss the Europe that they expect in their work and their daily life.

There are evidently different needs to be quelled with different sectors, and yet there are concerns which span all sectors of society. There is a widespread feeling that Europe did not act boldly enough on two main issues, firstly with regards to migration, where Malta remains at risk of migratory pressures beyond our capacities, and secondly, with regards to the Maltese government’s deficiencies on good governance and people’s own fundamental rights.

On migration, I expect the next European Commission President to clear the blockage of the Visegrád countries for a European system of solidarity. Recent intelligence reports say that up to 24 million young Africans may be considering the perilous voyage to Europe to escape from political instability, terrorism and famine in their countries. Europe has made small steps forward on migration, we have reinforced border controls and return mechanisms, but Malta still lacks the all-important guarantee of a legally binding migrant distribution mechanism.

We need to revise once and for all the perverse Dublin principle that the country of first entry remains responsible for migrants coming to Europe. The Maltese people also expect Europe to have clear rules on migrant movements and search and rescue responsibility. We cannot depend on Matteo Salvini’s moods on whether it is our responsibility to rescue migrants near Lampedusa nor on Joseph Muscat’s phone calls with Emmanuel Macron to strike weekly deals on distribution up north.

Weber’s possible election to Juncker’s post may also bring hope to those who feel that Juncker’s commission did not act decisively or sufficiently on cases of rule of law and fundamental rights in Malta.

We cannot expect Europe to solve our problems if we abstain from doing our part ourselves

In this regard I must say that while I share the people’s frustration on cases of intolerance to the freedom of expression or association, with swept off flowers and barricaded memorials impeding tribute to the memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and the doubtful handling of money laundering and corruption claims and hidden FIAU reports, I am less convinced that Maltese problems should be solved through European solutions.

As one wise man once said, Europe will not save us from our own shortcomings. If we want to safeguard our European legacy in Malta we must act to bring change through local politics. I must admit, in my knocking of doors I am meeting people who are presently not fully convinced with the Nationalist Party. They see us as still reeling from two mammoth defeats.

My word to these people is that no change will be coming their way unless they are part of it. We cannot expect Europe to solve our problems if we abstain from doing our part ourselves.

I cringe at the idea of Malta passing through the ordeals of Poland and Hungary with the use of Article 7 of the treaty reprimanding a member state for failing to uphold European values. I will do whatever in my competence to stop that from happening, not because it would be unmerited on fact, but because I trust that our democracy is strong enough to save itself from abuse.

Weber’s election also opens an important phase for European democracy. As the people of Malta and the EU will be weighing the political options to choose their representatives in the European Parliament, we will not only be choosing six individuals, we will also be choosing a vision of Europe.

Do we want this Europe to be bolder and stronger in the areas where it can make a difference to our lives? Do we want a Europe, which is a main actor at the international scene, on climate change and the environment as well as on trade?

For Europe to get closer to its people we should simplify its exercise. The European Parliament is proposing that the appointment of the next European Commission President is not a backroom deal between leaders in the European Council but the direct outcome of the European Parliament elections. The lead candidate of the European political party that gets the largest number of MEP seats should be the next Commission president.

Prime Minister Muscat has not yet declared whether he will support this step forward for European democracy or whether he will stick to a backroom deal between leaders in Brussels.

As the lead candidates for the main European Parties become known, we are entitled to know where we stand in this regard. Are we ready to go the full way with European democracy?

Peter Agius is a PN candidate for the European elections, former head of the European Parliament Office and cabinet member of the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece

Saturday, November 10, 2018,

The nerds in Brussels – Peter Agius

The nerds in Brussels – Peter Agius

What does it take to be an MEP? Getting elected. True, that is a main part of it. And, yet, the mission of bringing anything home starts right on the day after election.

Having worked with MEPs from the negotiating table in Brussels and Strasbourg to the podiums of meetings or press conferences in Victoria and Valletta, I dare hereby share a few lessons learnt of what it takes to be an MEP.

I mean, a good one.

A starting caveat is in order. This is by no means an impartial account, given that I have just submitted my nomination to be one of the Nationalist Party candidates for the upcoming European elections.

Read the full article here