Civil Liberties MEPs, concerned by corruption, conflicts of interest and impunity in Slovakia’s ruling circles, call for EU rule of law standards to be upheld.

After a two-day visit to Slovakia, Sophie in ‘t Veld (ALDE, NL), who heads the European Parliament delegation, said: “We are glad to see that the investigation into the murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée seems to be advancing. Justice needs to be served, first for the families of the victims, but also to guarantee the safety of all journalists and for the sake of democracy.”

“We have also been able to ascertain that many Slovaks are very committed to creating a modern, transparent and trusted public administration. But we still see corruption, too many conflicts of interest and impunity. We find particularly worrying the revolving doors that politicians use to remain in the corridors of power. We have the same people, the same faces, coming up again and again,” she added.

On behalf of the cross-party delegation, she underlined that “this is not about Slovakia, this is about the integrity of the EU as a community of law. We will only preserve the rule of law if all Member States uphold the same standards, such as the separation of powers and the proper enforcement of law and fundamental rights. All EU citizens are entitled to the same standards and we must ensure that this is respected.”

Finally, she called for the reinforcement of the role of Europol. “Europe should not become a gangster paradise; crime has no borders while law enforcement is constrained by national boundaries.

In Slovakia, MEPs met President Andrej Kiska, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini and the ministers of justice, Gábor Gál, and the interior, Denisa Sakova. They also quizzed special prosecutors, the national police chief and representatives of other law enforcement bodies, several journalists and editors, NGOs active in the fields of transparency and fighting corruption, and Ján Kuciak’s family lawyer.

The Civil Liberties Committee decided last May to establish a new working group to monitor the situation as regards rule of law and fight against corruption within the EU, with specific reference to Malta and Slovakia. It is chaired by Sophie in ‘t Veld and is composed of one member per political group.

With a mandate until 31 December 2018, the working group is tasked with recommending specific actions such as meetings, hearings and missions. It will also present a final report to the committee summarising its conclusions.

The visit to Slovakia and Malta is a follow-up to previous missions to both countries after the assassinations of Ján Kuciak, his fiancée Martina Kušnírová, and Daphne Caruana Galizia.

MEPs will travel on Wednesday to Valletta, where they plan to meet ministers for justice and tourism. They will be able to quiz the Attorney General, the Chief of Justice, police authorities and the heads of the Malta Financial Services Authority and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit. They will also exchange views with journalists and representatives of the Daphne Project and discuss the situation with NGOs involved in the field of rule of law and fight against corruption.

They will also meet representatives of the family of journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia.