Brussels is putting pressure on the government to nominate a woman as Malta’s next European commissioner instead of former tourism minister Karmenu Vella, Times of Malta is informed.

A high-ranking Commission official told this newspaper informal diplomatic messages have been sent to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat about the matter.

It appears that Dr Muscat is resisting the suggestion even though it comes with a promise of a “more interesting” portfolio if the nominee is replaced.

It is an open secret that Commission president-elect Jean Claude Juncker is seeking to have nine women among the 27 new commissioners.

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