Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will be hosting a two-hour mini-summit meeting at Castille on Friday, aimed at regrouping leaders of southern member states in preparation for talks in Brussels next week.
Senior government sources told Times of Malta that although the meeting would discuss the ‘usual’ topics, including migration, Dr Muscat was expected to use the occasion as part of his personal lobbying efforts for one of the EU’s top jobs, a topic that would be discussed in Brussels the following week.
Despite being coy when asked about his political future, it is an open secret Dr Muscat has been eyeing one of the top EU posts.
“This informal mini-summit in Malta will coincide with the time when leaders will be making their minds on who should get what in the EU institutions,” a senior diplomat told Times of Malta.
The leaders of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus are expected to attend the Malta meeting.
Government sources said Dr Muscat was hoping the southern European states would agree to work together to take a unified stand on who should take the top posts in the EU institutions.
Dr Muscat has publicly declared he did not intend to contest the next general election but has lately been evasive when asked about his next moves in his career.
According to the government sources, Dr Muscat is particularly interested in the job of High Representative, practically the EU’s Foreign Minister.
However, sources in both Brussels and diplomatic circles say his name is not among those being mentioned for this or other positions up for grabs.
Muscat hopes southern European states would agree to work together
The unexpected good performance by the Spanish Socialists at the last European elections could negatively affect Dr Muscat’s ambitions. EU diplomats argue that now that the Spanish Socialists have become the largest delegation on the Socialist Group in Brussels, the government in Madrid stood a better chance of winning the Socialist nomination for one of the EU’s top posts.
Spain, the diplomatic sources indicate, is pushing Foreign Minister Josep Borrell for the post of High Representative.
The Socialists are unlikely to get more than one of the five positions open for nominations, which also include the president of the European Commission, the president of the EU Council and the president of the European Parliament.
The European People’s Party, the largest political force in the European Parliament, the Liberals and the Greens are also lobbying hard for one or more of those positions.
Unlike 2013, when Malta was among the first EU members states to nominate its candidate for the post of European commissioner – former tourism minister Karmenu Vella – this time round the government is taking its time.
According to Maltese diplomatic sources, Dr Muscat could be delaying the nomination as he might ultimately decide to take up the post himself if he does not manage to secure any of the top jobs.
Although the Office of the Prime Minister would not say whether Dr Muscat is eyeing the post of EU High Representative, a spokesman said he was not interested in nominating himself for the post of commissioner.
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