MEP Alfred Sant has questioned regulations governing the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) and has called on the European Commission to explain why writers nominated for the prize are automatically disqualified if they have been published by a political party publishing house.

The rules governing the EUPL would, therefore, exclude Maltese writers whose works were published by PIN Publications and SKS Publishers due to their political affiliation.

In a parliamentary question, Sant, who heads the Labour Party's delegation in the European Parliament, stated that the condition excluding writers published by houses owned or affiliated to a political party does not feature in the rules published on the website of the European Union Prize for Literature.

The former prime minister, an acclaimed author, requested the European Commission to table a full copy of the established regulations and asked whether national panels have exclusive competence when writers are shortlisted and then winners selected or whether other panels established in Brussels or elsewhere share in the decisions.

Maltese authors Joe Pace and Lara Calleja have recently been nominated for the EUPL, the winners of which will be announced on May 18 in a digital event.

Joe Pace is shortlisted for his book Papa Aħmed (Pope Ahmed) and Lara Calleja is nominated for Kissirtu Kullimkien (You’ve Destroyed Everywhere). Both books are published by Merlin, an independent publishing house.

The EUPL recognises emerging fiction writers from across Europe.

The award includes 41 countries that are part of the Creative Europe programme – an initiative that aims to strengthen Europe’s cultural and creative sectors.

Launched in 2009, it has since recognised 135 winning authors through 12 editions. The works of the selected winners – one per country participating in the prize on a rotation basis, should reach a wider and international audience, and touch readers beyond national and linguistic borders.

The prize is financed by the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission and the consortium selected by the European Commission to coordinate the initiative is composed by the European and International Booksellers Federation, the European Writers’ Council and the Federation of European Publishers. These three members are jointly responsible for the setting up of the national juries and the practical organisation of the award ceremony.


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