Prime Minister Joseph Muscat believes his chances of getting a senior EU post are a “long shot”, but has not ruled it out.
Speaking to Politico, Dr Muscat confirmed that he would not be contesting another general election after his current term.
When asked whether he would raise his hand “in the race for one of Brussels’ top jobs”, he did not rule it out completely, saying coyly that it was “a very long shot” for someone from “a town of 500 people from the smallest member state”.
However, he followed this out by pointing out that it was possible to shoot for the stars, giving as an example Maltese-American Pete Buttigieg, who is running for president of the United States.
“You might not know it, but Pete Buttigieg, from the Democrats … a very interesting guy, also a small town guy, and the first openly gay candidate to run for president. When we talk, we speak Maltese.”
New Commission president soon
Every five years, the European Council - made up of EU heads of state and government - proposes a Commission presidential candidate to the European Parliament.
With his experience as MEP and PM, @JosephMuscat_JM had a top EU job within his grasp. But he threw it all away when he kept in office 2 cabinet members caught in #PanamaPapers and still refuses to start an investigation. The EU cannot afford to have that. https://t.co/48szCSS2WB— Simon Busuttil (@SimonBusuttil) February 27, 2019
This candidate is typically chosen from the largest political family in the Parliament, and requires the support of an absolute majority of members of Parliament.
Nominating somebody from the largest political party is an informal, handshake process, but parliament is now pushing to formalise it.
Jean Claude Juncker is set to step down as the president of the European Commissioner on October 31, 2019, with the European Socialist Party putting forward Frans Timmermans as its nominee.
All the Commissioners will also need to be replaced, with the number reducing from 28 to 27 in the event of Brexit.
The president-elect selects potential Vice-Presidents and Commissioners based on suggestions from EU countries. The list of nominees has to be approved by all EU heads of state or government, meeting in the European Council.
The other post up for grabs following the May EP elections is the president of the European Parliament. Antonio Tajani, who has held the post since 2017, wants a second 2.5-year term, according to EUobserver. He would first have to be re-elected as MEP himself and then selected by the MEPs.
Dr Muscat told the Playbook columnist that the atmosphere within the Council was often “collegial” and that debate were rarely dominated by partisan stands – and not always by national interests.
Referring to the way in which the next Commission president will be selected, he said: “I think most in Council are irritated with the idea that this is being changed to a situation where Parliament proposes, Council rubber stamps and Parliament then has the final say.”
That Muscat even considers an EU post is shocking. He is politically responsible for Malta's weak #ruleoflaw, for smear campaigns against #DaphneCaruanaGalizia, for not preventing her murder, for lack of adequate investigations & for blocking of public inquiry.@florianeder #ECPMF https://t.co/rEWN03PEQb— ECPMF (@ECPMF) February 27, 2019
In a tweet, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom said it was shocking for Dr Muscat to even consider an EU post as he was politically responsible for Malta's weak rule of law, smear campaigns against Daphne Caruana Galizia, not preventing her murder, a lack of adequate investigations and blocking a public inquiry.