Si­mon Busut­til set for Euro­pean Par­lia­ment ap­point­ment

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Stephen Calleja

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.

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