Simon Busuttil set for European Parliament appointment
Outgoing Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil is set to take up a four-year appointment in Luxembourg as a member of a panel overseeing the appointment of judges and advocatesgeneral at the European Union Court of Justice.
Busuttil has been nominated for the post by the European Parliament, and once the EP plenary session formally approves his candidacy, he will take up the post starting on 1 March 2018 and ending on 28 February 2022.
Busuttil will be replacing Italy’s Luigi Berlinguer, whose term ends on 28 February. He is not required to resign from Member of Parliament to take up the post.
The chairman of the EP Committee on Legal Affairs, Pavel Svoboda, formalised the EP’s nomination of Busuttil in a letter he sent to Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, on 18 July, just six weeks after Busuttil resigned the PN leadership post after the general election defeat.
The nomination of Busuttil had been approved by the Committee on Legal Affairs on 13 July, correspondence seen by The Malta Independent shows.
The panel to which Busuttil will be appointed, according to Article 225 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, gives “an opinion on candidates’ suitability to perform the duties of judge and advocate-general of the General Court before the governments of the member states make the appointments.”
The panel is made up of seven people chosen from among former members of the Court of Justice and the General Court, and lawyers of recognised competence, one of whom – in this case Busuttil – “shall be proposed by the European Parliament.”
Busuttil, who led the Nationalist Party’s campaign to join the European Union, served as MEP
between 2004 and 2013 before being appointed PN deputy leader in December 2012 and leader in May 2013. He resigned in June 2017.
In Svoboda’s proposal to the EP, the Committee on Legal Affairs deems Simon Busuttil to meet the conditions required to serve in the post.
Sources said that it is unusual for nominations to such posts to be made long before the current incumbent is due to leave. Very often, the Committee on Legal Affairs nominates its candidate after the termination of the previous appointment.
The sources said that Busuttil’s nomination could lead to uncomfortable moments when he will have to oversee the Maltese government’s next nomination of a judge to sit on the European Court of Justice, especially if he is still a member of the House of Representatives. How will an Opposition MP treat a government nominee, the sources asked.
The post is seen as a stepping stone towards more lucrative positions in the European Parliament, the sources said.
The PN later clarified that Busuttil was not offered a “job” but an “appointment”. A spokesman said that Busuttil will still be based in Malta and that he will stay on as a Member of Parliament.