Abela facing stiff internal resistance on ‘Commissioner Micallef’ move

Prime Minister Robert Abela’s surprise move, suggesting the possible nomination of his Chief of Staff, Glenn Micallef, for the position of EU Commissioner, is facing stiff internal resistance from members of his Cabinet and other influential politicians, not least from  Malta’s current EU Commissioner in Brussels, Helena Dalli.

The Shift is informed that members of Dalli’s secretariat in Brussels have already sent messages to Castille, warning that Micallef was not a good choice because he lacks experience and political clout and is too young to endure the gruelling grilling by MEPs.

The same negative suggestions have also been passed onto the prime minister by members of his Cabinet, although these may be lobbying to fill the vacancy themselves.

Sources said that while Robert Abela was ignoring Helena Dalli’s messages, adding that he was well aware that Dalli’s intentions might not necessarily be genuine as she is currently lobbying for a second mandate as EU Commissioner, many inside his Cabinet are suggesting that Micallef’s elevation to the top Brussels job is unwarranted.

Abela has not yet decided whether to nominate Micallef for the top job of European Commissioner or to send him as a replacement for Marlene Bonnici, Malta’s current Permanent Representative at the EU, who has been in the position since the PN was in government.

They said Abela was floating the idea around and “trying to assess the reaction of the EU’s top officials and that of his Cabinet members if he nominated Micallef as EU commissioner,” a senior official said.

“The PM is aware that there are many around him vying for the job, particularly Ministers Miriam Dalli and Ian Borg. So he is just testing the waters before he makes the final decision,” the sources said.

Chris Fearne, who withdrew his nomination after being arraigned in court, also hopes that an early court decision dropping charges against him will be made in time for him to enter the race. The timing of court proceedings in Malta makes that difficult.

The EU is currently in its final preparations to agree on a new Commission President. The decision, most probably to give current President Ursula Von Der Leyen a second term, is expected by the end of this month. After that, member states will start submitting their nominations.

The prime minister also needs to deal with Helena Dalli’s opposition, who, despite being entirely insignificant in her five-year term as EU Commissioner, still wants another five years or a new post.

Until a few months ago, Dalli hoped to be nominated as Malta’s President. However, the PN opposition blocked her nomination, and instead, Miriam Spiteri Debono took up the position.

Abela also hopes that Glenn Micallef, who does not carry any political baggage associated with the years of disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s rule, would have an easier ride with MEPs than any other nominee connected to Muscat.

Lawyer Jason Azzopardi first revealed Micallef was slotted for the position of Commissioner.

Prime Minister Robert Abela’s Chief of Staff Glenn Micallef and his wife Nadine.

Who is Glenn Micallef?

Glenn Micallef, still in his late 30s, is a former President of Pulse, the Labour Party’s student association at the University. As soon as he graduated, he was made Head of the EU’s Secretariat at the Office of the Prime Minister.

The unit, later renamed the EU Coordination Unit, prepares Malta’s political and technical positions to be taken by its permanent representative and ministers in Brussels.

Micallef was also made coordinator of the Brexit task force, created to prepare Malta for the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU.

In 2020, upon Clyde Caruana’s departure from the OPM’s secretariat to become Finance Minister, Robert Abela catapulted Micallef to Chief of Staff.

Described as “unassuming”, top government sources told The Shift that Micallef is “highly intelligent, a hard worker and technically very prepared.”

However, the same sources said that he lacks any form of political acumen and experience – essential ingredients for an EU top post.

While always working in the shadows since he became Abela’s second in command, Micallef will also be judged on Abela’s performance in government, which, the sources said, “has not been the best of Labour’s long stretch in power.”

Lately, The Shift revealed a story about Micallef that raised eyebrows.

His wife, Nadine Micallef, an architect by profession, was involved in a very controversial project, fronted by Paul Attard of GAP, to turn public land in Qajjenza, Birzebbugia, into blocks of hundreds of apartments.

Micallef, an architect employed by a firm headed by Stefen Vancell, put her name on the project’s initial drawing. Paul Attard, the secretary general of the Malta Developers Association and a close friend of Prime Minister Robert Abela, never used Vancell’s firm in his many development projects before.

Since the proposed project is on public land, currently owned by Enemalta and the Lands, it will need Robert Abela’s informal approval.

It is unclear whether Paul Attard’s choice of Micallef is connected to her husband’s influential position at Castille.

                           

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wenzu
wenzu
18 days ago

Dalli and Borg as EU commissioners? God forbid.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
18 days ago

Robert Abela should do the right thing and decides for the good of the country and not in the interest of the clique.

Last edited 18 days ago by saviour mamo
A. Fan
A. Fan
18 days ago

Not the best qualified, but apparently ‘most suitable’.

More transparency and meritocracy, MLP style.

Pony Express
Pony Express
17 days ago

Onor Prim Ministru

Jiddispjacini, sincerament nghidlek, li huma dawn l – affarijiet li il-poplu ma jridx aktar. Il-messagg inti qrajtu imma ghadek ma fhimtux. Il-kitba se tibqa fuq il-hajt.

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