Karmenu Vella’s performance during his questioning by MEPs on Monday has left “a positive impression of his aptitude” to be part the next College of Commissioners.

This was the opinion expressed by coordinators of the European Parliament’s political groups in a letter sent to its president Jerzy Buzek, which Times of Malta has seen.

The assessment document will only be made public next week, once the hearings for each commissioner-designate are over.

The letter was signed by the chairman of the environment committee, Italian MEP Giovanni La Via, and French MEP Alain Cadec, who heads the fisheries committee. It reflects the opinions expressed by the various political groups during a special session held immediately after the grilling.

Mr Vella was nominated to head a wide portfolio comprising the environment, maritime affairs and fisheries.

European Parliament sources told this newspaper that in their initial reaction, MEPs were generally satisfied with Mr Vella’s performance, even though he exhibited weaknesses on the environment. The commissioner-designate was deemed to have been well prepared on fisheries and assertive when answering questions on hunting.

In fact, the most favourable reviews in the letter came from coordinators within the fisheries committee, the vast majority of whom lauded his performance.

Mr Vella demonstrated he had a sufficient grasp of the main issues

“Mr Vella is a qualified candidate with the independence, professional aptitude and European commitment necessary to perform his duties,” they remarked.

On this evidence coordinators expressed their confidence that the commissioner-designate was capable of mastering his portfolio and cooperating with EP committees.

As for Mr Vella’s adequacy to head the environment portfolio, coordinators were of the opinion that he had the necessary professional and political experience to master the challenges of such a position.

“In spite of some lack of details in his replies, Mr Vella demonstrated that he had a sufficient grasp of the main issues inherent in the portfolio,” the coordinators noted.

The MEPs also remarked that the commissioner-designate had shown the intention and need to familiarise himself more with subjects falling within his remit, as well as a positive attitude towards the environmental agenda.

In their conclusion, coordinators strongly recommended that a higher profile be given to environmental sustainability in the work of the future Commission by including this in the title and portfolio of Vice President Jyrki Katainen, who has been assigned the portfolio of jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness.

However, they recommended that Mr Vella should be handed complete control of the seventh Environment Action Programme which came into force in January. This programme provides for binding commitments in environmental policy up to 2020.

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