Brussels picks non-Maltese speaker in sensitive Semester post in Valletta

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba blasts selection of Latvian EPP assistant instead of Maltese nationals

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba
Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba

A Latvian national who formerly served an EPP member of the European Parliament, has been selected over Maltese nationals to join the European Commission’s delegation in Valletta, as Europea Semester Officer.

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba is protesting the appointment, saying the candidate was selected despite one of the job’s requisites being the knowledge of the Maltese language.

He complained with the EU’s Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis that the Maltese were being treated as “second-class citizens”.

“It’s an insult to Malta and the Maltese language that in a selection process for EC officials, Maltese applicants for the post were ignored and a Latvian candidate was selected when they do not know one word of Maltese, and could therefore not satisfy the criteria to have ‘a good command in Maltese language’ as requested in the EC’s post,” Agius Saliba said.

In his reply to the MEP’s question on the Latvian selection, Dombrovskis said the candidate had fulfilled “the mix of required expertise and qualifications in the best way”.

The work of the European Semester Officer (ESO) in Malta focuses on the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) and the European Semester. The successful candidate requires a very good expertise of the Commission policies and priorities and of the European economic governance system as well as very good analytical skills, required for the assessment of the implementation of the RRF.

“The vacancy notice also mentioned the good command of Maltese as one of the relevant criteria. At the same time, both the analytical work and the discussions with Maltese authorities take place in English,” Dombrovskis told Agius Saliba, but said the EC promoted “a multinational profile of its teams.”

“Therefore, a significant number of ESOs and other staff in the Capitals are not nationals of the respective Member State...the vacancy notice mentioned various elements in terms of required expertise and qualifications, the command of the Maltese language being only one of them... The selection has taken place on that basis,” the Commissioner added.

But Agius Saliba has blasted the reply. “It’s just replete with empty excuses... coincidentally, Dombrovskis is Latvian himself, and belongs to the EPP political family just as selected candidate Martin Zemitis, who was the parliamentary assistant to EPP member Richard Piks.”

Agius Saliba took Dombrovskis to task over claiming that even government departments in Malta are able to communicate in English. “I’m sure the Commission would not have placed a Latvian who could not speak a French or German word in its member states’ offices as it wants to do in Malta.”