EU Ombudsman to investigate discriminatory recruitment at Commission delegation to Malta

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba has successfully obtained an investigation by the EU Ombudsman into allegedly discriminatory practices by the European Commission

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba
Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba

The Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba has successfully obtained an investigation by the EU Ombudsman into allegedly discriminatory practices by the European Commission.

Agius Saliba said the investigation also deals with cases of discrimination against Maltese citizens applying for jobs within the European Commission office in Malta, and another case initiated by the Renouveau Democracie trade union into the way the Maltese language is treated during recruitment processes for institution employees.

“The delays for justice in European bureaucracy will not dissuade me. Malta and the Maltese are no less worthy than others,” Agius Saliba said.

Agius Saliba has previously protested the employment of a Latvian national who formerly served an EPP member of the European Parliament, selected over Maltese nationals to join the European Commission’s delegation in Valletta, as European Semester Officer.

Agius Saliba said 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.

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,” Commissioner Valdis 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.