Updated | Alfred Sant abstains in EP vote approving Busuttil’s nomination to EU panel

Head of PL delegation to the European Parliament Alfred Sant did not take part in a vote approving Simon Busuttil’s appointment to an experts panel • Busuttil’s appointment was confirmed with 556 votes in favour, 82 against and 35 abstentions.

Outgoing opposition leader Simon Busuttil
Outgoing opposition leader Simon Busuttil

The European Parliament has approved the nomination of outgoing Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil to an experts panel, that will oversee the appointment of judges and advocates-general at the European Union Court of Justice.

Busuttil’s appointment was approved with 556 votes in favour, 82 against and 35 abstentions.

It turns out that amongst the latter group was head of the Labour delegation, Alfred Sant. The former Labour prime minister did not take part in the vote, according to Illum.

Illum quotes a spokesperson for Sant who confirmed that the MEP did not participate in the secret vote.

On Sunday, Prime Minister and Labour leader Joseph Muscat urged the three Labour MEPs to vote in favour of Busuttil’s nomination.

“I congratulate him on his new post,” Muscat told a crowd gathered at a political activity. The prime minister urged the supporters to support Maltese success and endeavours – even those coming from PN.

“My family and I were the ones most hurt by the PNs allegations, but we need to continue to celebrate their success because they are Maltese," he said. 

Busuttil was nominated for the post by the European Parliament, and will replace Italian MEP Luigi Berlinguer, whose term ends 28 February.

The nomination was made by the chairman of the EP Committee on Legal Affairs, Pavel Svoboda, in a letter sent to EP president Antonio Tajani on 18 July, just six weeks after Busuttil resigned the PN leadership post after the general election defeat.

The committee meets eight times a year and Busuttil will remain a member of parliament.

The nomination was approved by the Committee on Legal Affairs on 13 July. The term of appointment lasts from March, 1, 2018 until the end of February, 2022.

The ECJ panel 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 – is proposed by the European Parliament.

Busuttil was a former MEP before becoming PN deputy leader in 2012 and then PN leader in 2013. He resigned in June 2017.

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