Government not against third country investment screening, Malta building its own National Screening Mechanism
The Maltese government is not against a European Commission initiative that would see third country state investments in critical areas being screened to ensure public security. In fact, a government spokesperson has told The Malta Independent on Sunday that the government is even working on its own National Screening Mechanism.
Over recent years, Malta has had third country investments in the energy sector – the one-third sale of Enemalta to the Chinese stateowned Shanghai Electric, and the involvement of the Azerbaijani state-owned SOCAR in the new Delimara power station, as well as the government’s contractual commitment to purchase natural gas from that company for 18 years.
The two investments have been among the more contentious deals struck by the current government.
A tripartite agreement was reached between the European Parliament, Council and Commission last Tuesday to begin screening certain types of foreign direct investment in EU member states to ensure security and public order.
The proposal, demanded by France, Germany and the previous government of Italy, still needs the support of the 28 EU states at a meeting on 5 December. However, reports have suggested that their backing is by no means certain given opposition from a number a countries, including Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg and Portugal.
Asked about Malta’s reaction to the agreement, a Maltese government spokesperson said that was not the case: “While noting that the relevant discussions still have to take place, Malta is optimistic regarding the negotiated package, while underlining its support for the council position as agreed between member states. It should be noted that Malta is also working to build its own National Screening Mechanism.
“Malta was among those countries which supported the compromise Council position on this file which was adopted in June 2018 at COREPER level, and which was reached following discussions, and which takes into account concerns expressed by over 15 different member states.
“Trilogues on this file subsequently started with the European Parliament, and the results of these trilogues will be discussed on a technical level in the coming days, and will subsequently go to Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union (COREPER) level for approval.”