Castille fumes at Brussels’s choice for Malta representative

John Dalli’s former cabinet chief earmarked for Commission head of delegation

Joanna Darmanin (left) was John Dalli's head of cabinet - seen here with then MEP Simon Busuttil and David Casa
Joanna Darmanin (left) was John Dalli's head of cabinet - seen here with then MEP Simon Busuttil and David Casa

With Malta still reeling from a chiding from European Commissioner Viviane Reding and news of legal steps against its citizenship sale the government may be set for a new clash over the imminent appointment of Joanna Darmanin - the head of Commissioner Tonio Borg's cabinet - as the EC's head of representation in Malta.

Darmanin has been the top aide to Malta's three commissioners since 2004, having started her career by the side of then Nationalist parliamentary secretary Joe Borg, right up to his appointment as commissioner in Brussels.

Now undertaking the EU's 'concour' so that she secures a permanent posting in the European civil service, Darmanin is said to be replacing Martin Bugelli as the Commission's liaison in Malta.

While an official call for applications for the said post is yet to be made, the Commission's representations in member states fall under the guidance of Viviane Reding, the commissioner responsible for justice and citizenship.

"There is an unspoken rule that the Commission consults with the government of the day over such an appointment," the Office of the Prime Minister told MaltaToday in an official comment. "We have evidence that this is what happened in the past, so that is what should happen today. The decision stays firmly within the Commission's remit, but we expect to be treated no differently from previous administrations and other countries."

The government itself learned of the 'planned' appointment through its own sources in the Commission.

The Labour government is expected to take a critical view of the appointment of Darmanin: as assistant to Joe Borg during his tenure as foreign minister, she was part of the trusted group of individuals answering to Richard Cachia Caruana, Malta's chief negotiator during EU accession, before he was made permanent representative to the EU in 2004. She would have also worked closely with Simon Busuttil, today Opposition leader, when he ran the Malta-EU Information Centre within the foreign ministry.

She then moved to Brussels with Borg when he was appointed commissioner for fisheries, and then retained by John Dalli in 2009 when he was made responsible for health and consumer policy.

In April 2013, Muscat broke ranks by appointing Dalli as his consultant on health policy after the Commissioner of Police indicated he will not press bribery charges against the former commissioner. Dalli was made to resign in October 2012 by European Commission president José Barroso over an undisclosed report by anti-fraud agency OLAF, alleging he was aware of attempts to bribe him.

A commission source in Brussels who spoke to MaltaToday on condition of anonymity described the news as "a typical act of political posturing".

"The Commission was probably unimpressed by Muscat taking on Dalli as his advisor - they are obviously aware that appointing Darmanin is antagonistic to the government, given that she is Tonio Borg's head of cabinet."

John Dalli himself had gone on record accusing Darmanin of leaking information to the Maltese press on his controversial trip to the Bahamas in August 2012, news of which was broken by the International Herald Tribune.

The IHT reported claims by a Bahamas landlord who hosted Dalli as saying that he had told OLAF the former commissioner was organising a multi-million money transfer. But Dalli claimed he was in Bahamas to secure financing for an African charity, together with international benefactors.

"The Cabinet found out about the Bahamas trip because I erroneously inserted that ticket stub for the Commission's budgetary verification. I was later told I could not be refunded for that voyage.... I have no doubt that it was Joanna Darmanin who was the source of this information."

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There are more than enough die hard nationalists in Brussels: their allegiance is not to the state that pays them but to the PN! We want people we can trust not people whose soul is not owned by SimonPN! A quick look at the blogger's traffic routes quickly point towards Brussels: we are not surprised:neither shocked!
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Simon = Gudas.
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i fully agree with algan. the maltese working in brussels should be recalled. they are not hardened civil servants but nationalist cohorts who owns their soul to the people who placed them there....its either that or we will continue to experience these quislings shady plots
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One sincerely trusts that this is not political posturing from Brussels for then this would be a serious diplomatic slight and relations with the EU will be more than soured. |However what troubles me more is that the orchestrated attack against Malta in the IIP issue required insider information and cannot have simply been the sole work of relative lightweights like MEPs Casa and Metsoala. Government must now seriously investigate the Maltese community in Brussels especially those in our own gov employment to weed out the renegades Unfortunately in the last ten years many Brussels post have been stuffed with committed PN sympathizers among whom there must be quite a few who would not think twice in backstabbing our government and betraying the national interest.
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@ZeppiZammit: Are you "hafi" or something? Can't you see the tell-tale signs. It was that Reding woman who was the main voice for the PN and the Busullotti they enacted in the European Parliament against Malta, and it is this same Reding woman, again the portavoce of the Buullotti who is trying to appoint a persona non grata to represent the commission in Malta. It is ALL a question of The Cardinal controlling the ropes both in Malta and in Brussels against his Country. The Maltese Parliament voted him out in GONZIPN Clikka days and he is still masterminding all the ropes in Malta as far as Brussels and the EU are concerned. All the more reason why Malta should start the process of pulling out of the EU just as Britain will do in 2017.
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Meta qrajt dawn il-kummenti beda jigini dubju jekk Malta hux vera se ticcelebra l-Aniversarju ta 50 sena Indipendentimeta ghadhekk tara kummenti b'mentalita kolonjali grassa ta din il-kwalita
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Castille is correct. I the previous ghovernments were consulted so must the preent government. If someone is accused by someone else of having undermined him or her and now being appointed to head the EU delegation to Malta shows the despicable despotic corrupt colonial €USSR dictatorship. We do not want Trojan horses in our midst.
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@ABC356 This is an EU position -- so the government has no say in who is appointed. You should get your facts straight before you write! Or do you expect the Labour government to dictate to Brussels who it is to employ in its own structures? The arrogance of this government knows no bounds ... but increasingly Joseph Muscat is starting to be perceived as a little yapping Chihuahua. So a Chihuahua can bare its teeth -- but does it frighten anyone?! I don't think so...
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I do not even believe that this is Castille ' talking'. ..... To me, this appears to be more of a campaign from an 'interested party' in the post! Joanna Darmanin is a Maltese national - and I mean she's one of those born, studied, lived and worked in Malta - who has excelled in her Brussels' posts! No wonder she's seen as a treat to ALL.
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See the effect of not consulting Joseph. You are not consulted in return.
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John Mifsud
Ambassadors always need the approval of the receiving state. The Commission's Head of Delegation is not an ambassador in the proper sense, but still, it makes sense that he is acceptable to the host government. Otherwise, he risks being ignored and treated as a non-person, thereby being unable to fulfil his role.
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Isn't this an EU office....what does Joseph has to do with it? If he didn't consult them about the citizenship scheme, why should they consult him on who to appoint at their office?
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Vivianne Reading the witch strikes back. Well we will return the attack vehemently.
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Hekk jonqos issa, jigi xi hadd mill-E#U u jindahal lill-Gvern malti lil min ghandu jpoggi f'din il-kariga daqstant importanti. Minghajr ma nidhyol fil-mertu ta Darmanin, il-fatt ta principju jibqa li l-Gvern Malti ghandu japponta l-persuna' dik hija resp0onsabbilta tal-Gvern malti u la ta Redding u lanqas ta hadd fl-EU. Allajhares se naslu f'dan il-punt li l-=EU tindahal lil min il-Gvernt a Pajjiz sovran ghandu jappunta f'hatriet bhal dawn!. Gvern malti, hu min hu, qatt ma jista jaccetta dan l-indhil.
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Ta l-inqas hemm wiehed li gie f'sensieh f'dan ir-ritratt.
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Speaking of meritocracy, there is clearly nobody more qualified for the post than Joanna Darmanin and, unlike others, she has never meddled in local politics while in Brussels. How can John Dalli accusing her of leaking his trip to Bahammas be disqualifying? First of all, he was a PN minister appointed commissioner by the PN and secondly, if he didn't want the world to know, then he shouldn't have claimed the travel expense (and he probably shouldn't have gone in the first place). This government seems to want to be at odds with the EU at every turn - not wise.
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Yes let us keep SimonPN's trojan horses in their exclusive position since their allegiance is only to Simon Busutill?
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Kemm tindahal il-EU !
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Guess who is REALLY running the show for Malta.