The Maltese members of the European Parliament yesterday got a clear idea of how they will spend their five-year term when they were assigned their posts on the various committees.

Each MEP was assigned a committee or two and appointed an alternate member on others, which means they can participate in full but would not have the right to vote.

There was disappointment on the faces of some of Malta's MEPs who had been hoping and bargaining to serve on "better" committees. John Attard Montalto admitted that most of the posts allotted were not the ones preferred by the MEPs, who had expressed a wish to serve on the social and employment and regional development committees, among others.

Simon Busuttil will be serving in the budget committee. He is also an alternate member on the regional policy and budgetary control committees.

David Casa was allocated the committee on economic and monetary affairs as well as the committee on fisheries. He is an alternate member on the environment committee.

Dr Attard Montalto will be serving on the committee on industry, research and energy. The former Labour Industry Minister was also given the vice-chairmanship of the committee for the second half of the term, the only Maltese MEP to have been awarded such a post. Just four of the new EU states managed to get an MEP to serve as president or vice-president on one of the committees. Dr Attard Montalto is also an alternate member on the transport and tourism committee.

Like Dr Busuttil, Louis Grech will be serving on the budget committee. He is an alternate member on the regional committee. The former Air Malta chairman was also selected vice-chairman of the EP delegation to the Korean peninsula.

Joseph Muscat will be contributing to the committee on economic and monetary affairs and is an alternate member on the internal market and consumer affairs committee. Mr Muscat will also be serving as vice-chairman of the EP delegation to Belarus.

In the past weeks, each delegation from the member states was asked to submit its preferences for the posts but these were not always taken into consideration.

"It's been two days of serious haggling and horse-trading. You really have to fight tooth and nail to make your presence felt here," Dr Attard Montalto said.

The first meeting of the committees was held last night with a second session being held today.

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