Karmenu Vella bids farewell to Parliament

In his last speech in Parliament, new European Commissioner tells MPs 'hopefully we'll meet again'

Newly appointed European Commissioner Karmenu Vella today said he was feeling both “happy and sad” because he was looking ahead to the new challenge but would miss Parliamentary work which has been part of his life for the last 40-odd years.

Tonight Vella handed his resignation after delivering his last speech, which he described as his “resignation speech” and not as his last one because “you can never tell what life has in store for you.”

“When I was young and now that I’m old, I always did my utmost to serve the people to the best of my abilities as an MP,” he said.

The 64-year-old architect was first elected to Parliament on his first attempt in 1976 and continued to be elected in the elections that followed for nine consecutive times.

“I apologise for any pain I might have caused but rest assured that it was not intentional,” he said.  

Vella thanked everyone who worked alongside him in his political career and reserved special praise for current Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for showing trust in him.

In an emotional farewell he thanked his wife, children and parents and told MPs “hopefully we’ll meet again.”

Reminiscing on his 38-year experience in Parliament, Vella said that he witnessed major changes at first hand and enjoyed working alongside different leaders and adversaries.

“The biggest lesson I’ve been thought is that in humility. I have seen great leaders walk in this House with their head held high and I have seen them walk back out with their heads hanging. We must remember that the real power of the seat does not belong to us but to the electorate.”

Vella said he was grateful to the electorate who were disappointed at his depurture, but thanking Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for trusting him in the new post he said “I’m looking at today’s resignation not as the end but as a new challenge in my career.”

He added that he was looking ahead with “enthusiasm” and promised to carry out his duties in the best way possible.

He also said he was proud of not having any feuds with MPs from both sides of the House, adding “I’ve been thought that nobody is completely right or wrong and acknowledging that your adversary is right is not a sign of weakness but maturity.”

Before Vella addressed the House, the longest-serving MP Joe Debono Grech said he was “sorry to lose a friend” and said that he was now the last MP who served under Dom Mintoff which he said “wasn’t easy.”

In 1981 Vella was appointed Minister for Public in the last Dom Mintoff administration and in 1984 he was appointed as Minister for Industry.

He was then appointed as Minister for Tourism in 1996 till 1998, and again appointed as Minister for Tourism in March 2013. 

In 2001 Vella was appointed as Executive Chairman of Corinthia Hotels International and in 2009 he served as Executive Chairman of the Mediterranean Construction Co. Ltd until 2010.

During the past three years he occupied the post of Chairman of Orange Travel Group; a Foundation Member of Vodafone Malta Foundation; Founding Chairman of the Maltese Turkish Business Council; and Board Director of one of the world’s largest online betting companies Betfair Group Ltd.  

Despite the strong ties to big businesses and doubts over his expertise in the environment, Vella survived the grilling by MEPs and was officially appointed as European Commissioner last week.

His appointment as European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries will be formalised on 1 November.