Government fires Brussels chief Daniel Azzopardi, to be replaced by predecessor

Technocrat Daniel Azzopardi removed as Malta's EU Permanent Representative after government dissatisfied with his performance

Malta's EU ambassador Daniel Azzopardi has been fired by the government (Photo: Inigo Taylor)
Malta's EU ambassador Daniel Azzopardi has been fired by the government (Photo: Inigo Taylor)

Updated at 5:10pm with reaction from EU expert Peter Agius

The government has dismissed its Brussels permanent representative Daniel Azzopardi after it was unsatisfied with the technocrat's performance.

Government sources told MaltaToday that the Foreign Ministry’s decision was taken a month ago, citing dissatisfaction with the EU Permanent Representative’s performance in Europe.

Contacted by this newsroom for his reaction, Azzopardi said that he had no comment to make at this stage.

Marlene Bonnici, who was Azzopardi's predecessor - having served as Malta's EU ambassador from 2012 to 2018 - is expected to replace him in the role.

Azzopardi was appointed by Parliament's Public Appointments Committee as EU Permanent Representative in July 2018, having been nominated by then European Affairs Minister Helena Dalli.

At the time, government MPs Robert Abela, Manuel Mallia, Clayton Bartolo and committee chairperson Edward Zammit Lewis had voted in favour of Azzopardi’s approval, while Opposition MPs Carm Mifsud Bonnici, David Stellini and Robert Cutajar had voted against.

Azzopardi previously served as the head of the Energy and Water Agency.

Dismissal of Azzopardi confirmed government's failure in the EU - Peter Agius

EU expert and former PN MEP candidate Peter Agius said Azzopardi's dismissal confriemd that the government had failed when it came to negotiations on the European level, particularly when it came to the issues of migration and EU funds.

"The truth is that, no matter who represents Malta's interests in Brussels, they will find a difficult road ahead due to the damage caused [to Malta's reputation] by the government, including that related to the sale of passports, and the justice which has been denied in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder cases and the fact that government members have been obscenely implicated in it," Agius said.

Agius said this highlight the importance of working to clear Malta's name, since the results the country could obtain within Europe would depend on its credibility around the negotiations table.

"The government can change as many EU permanent representatives as it had changed police commissioners, but, with the way it behaves, results will continue being scarce - and it will be [the people] who suffer, because they need Europe to be understanding when it comes to issues including migration and EU funds," he added.