PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR JUSTICE, CULTURE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: The fight against terrorism continues to be at the heart of the Maltese Presidency agenda

European Justice Ministers registered progress on two of the legislative proposals falling under the Terrorist Financing Package, as well as on the Proposal for the Supply of Digital Content. Ministers also discussed the topic of Whistleblower Protection, and the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.

This was the second day of the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, hosted by Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici as part of Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In a press conference with Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality V?ra Jourova, Minister Bonnici explained that in light of recent terrorist attacks, the need to fight terrorism has become more crucial than ever. In view of this, Minister Bonnici emphasised that the Maltese Presidency is adamant and fully committed to continue pushing forward the discussions on proposals that aim to fight the financing of terrorism. Minister Bonnici highlighted that terrorist fighter returnees were another major problem encountered by various Member States, and therefore the Maltese Presidency was putting this problem on the forefront of discussions. This is being done in order to discuss policy options intended to tackle this problem from a Criminal Justice perspective.

Minister Bonnici also referred to the protection of whistleblowers discussed by Ministers for Justice. He remarked that Malta is one of the Member States which has a whistleblower protection mechanism already in place, because Malta’s government believes that whistleblowers play a significant role in democratic societies by helping to uncover unlawful conduct related to corruption and fraud. This serves the public interest, in order to reinforce guarantees of integrity, transparency, and accountability.

Minister Bonnici also highlighted that the Maltese Presidency is, and will remain, committed to register progress on the setting up of the European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO), despite the current stall of negotiations in Council imposed by the respective procedures set out in the Lisbon Treaty.

The Maltese Presidency is committed to finalise this draft regulation as soon as possible. It will organise formal technical meetings at expert level in the next few weeks, considering that the Maltese Presidency managed to attain the signatures of enough Member States to notify the wish to negotiate this draft regulation in the context of enhanced cooperation.

Minister Bonnici referred to the supply of Digital Content Directive, regarding which the Maltese Presidency was able to make substantial progress at technical level since the begining of the year. In particular, he said, progress was made on the remedies offered to consumers in case of failure to supply the requested digital content, such as social media website services, and mobile applications; this in order to enhance consumer rights and protection.

Source: Government of Malta