Cyrus Engerer leaves Brussels as top EU post goes to technocrat

Malta's next EU rep is... not Cyrus Engerer

Cyrus Engerer (left) was the Prime Minister's sherpa in Brussels, but the technical role for permanent representative to the EU is expected to go to Daniel Azzopardi (right)
Cyrus Engerer (left) was the Prime Minister's sherpa in Brussels, but the technical role for permanent representative to the EU is expected to go to Daniel Azzopardi (right)

 Daniel Azzopardi, the head of the Energy and Water Agency, is being touted as Malta’s next permanent representative in Brussels, MaltaToday has learnt.

The chief executive of the agency tasked with implementing government’s energy policy, appears to be European Affairs Minister Helena Dalli’s preferred choice for the Dar Malta posting.

If confirmed, Azzopardi is expected to take over from Marlene Bonnici in the summer, when her term expires.

It will be a return to Brussels for Azzopardi, who served as technical attache at Dar Malta for almost seven years before being appointed CEO in January 2016 by then energy minister Konrad Mizzi.

But the change in Malta’s permanent representation in Brussels comes at a time of friction between the minister and Cyrus Engerer, the Prime Minister’s special envoy, sources said.

Engerer announced his resignation from his Brussels role last week, indicating he will return to Malta for a sabbatical.

Engerer was also in the running for the top Brussels job but sources said that he and Dalli clashed on certain matters. The situation is understood to have caused tension and contributed to his side-lining.

Engerer skirted the question when asked whether his departure had anything to do with the fact that he was
not in line to replace Bonnici in Brussels.

“Irrespective of whoever is nominated by the Minister for European Affairs in the coming months to succeed the current Permanent Representative to the European Union, I stand by the decision I took a few months ago,” he said, adding his involvement in the Labour Party will remain the same as today.

He said his decision to leave Brussels was based on family reasons. His partner, Randolph Debattista came back to Malta last year to serve as CEO of the Labour Party.

“A year ago, my family left Brussels and since then I have been thinking of my next step. In this regard, last February I informed the Prime Minister that I would be handing in my resignation but was asked to remain in the position for a few months,” Engerer said.

He told MaltaToday the period before the summer recess is usually the best time for human resources changes in Brussels.

Engerer said he will be taking some months off to join his siblings in running the family business over the summer. The Engerers have a seafront bar at Exiles in Sliema.

“For the coming summer, I will be taking some gap months off from formal office… I intend to enjoy my time doing something different,” he told this newspaper.

In a lengthy Facebook post, announcing his return to Malta, Engerer thanked in particular Transport Minister Ian Borg, with whom he had worked closely in the past few years as Malta prepared for the presidency of the European Council.

In the previous legislature, Borg was parliamentary secretary for Malta’s EU presidency under the wings of then deputy prime minister Louis Grech.

However, Engerer and Azzopardi were not the only two names being floated around in the corridors of Dar Malta.

MaltaToday is informed that other contenders for Bonnici’s post were Neil Kerr, the former deputy permanent representative who now serves at the European Court of Auditors with Leo Brincat, MEUSAC head Vanni Xuereb, and Malta’s ambassador to Italy, Vanessa Frazier.

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