Toni Abela's grilling starts at 3.02hrs on video above.

The European Parliament's Budgetary Committee has rejected the Malta government's nomination of Toni Abela to serve on the European Court of Auditors.

The decision was 17 committee members against the nomination and nine in favour.

"I didn’t make it, it's all over for me, I have no comments to give, leave me alone," Dr Abela said after the decision was announced.

The committee's decision followed a question and answer session with Dr Abela, the PL's former deputy leader for party affairs, this morning.

The committee also rejected the nominees from Poland and Slovakia but Dr Abela had the biggest number of MEPs voting against his nomination.

GOVERNMENT 'DISAPPOINTED'

The Maltese government in a statement said it was disappointed by the committee’s decision .

It thanked the socialist group and the MEP of the Green Group on the committee for having backed Dr Abela.

“The government is disappointed that there appears to have been someone who worked to harm Dr Abela, a person known for his integrity,” the government said.

'A SAD DAY FOR MALTA' - PN

The Nationalist Party said Dr Abela,, who was chosen by the Prime Minister alone, failed this morning to convincingly answer the questions put to him by MEPs on his experience and expertise.

"It is clear that the Prime Minister’s reluctance to take the necessary action on the recent corruption scandals to hit Castille continue to damage Malta. This is a sad day for Malta's reputation and the Prime Minister’s actions continue to embarrass Malta and the Maltese people."

The PN urged the prime minister to put the national interest before his personal and political ends.

In a reaction, the Labour Party accused the PN and Dr Busuttil of gross hypocrisy.

It said Dr Busuttil was aware of a campaign among the committee members to discredit Dr Abela and ultimately harm Malta.

The PN, it said, had also tried to harm Malta in European institutions over the citizenship scheme, the power station project and the granting of visas.  

This, therefore, was truly a black day as the leader of the opposition preferred to go against his country because a nominated person did not come from his party, in contrast to how the PL acted over the nominations of  Tonio Borg and Louis Galea. 

'SECOND THUMBS DOWN FOR MALTA'

In a reaction to the committee's decision, Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Arnold Cassola said this was the second thumbs down for a Maltese nomination in the space of three weeks, following the outcome of Judge Silvio Camilleri's interview.

These are terrible blows for the prestige of our country at international level- Cassola

"These are terrible blows for the prestige of our country at international level. Unfortunately, the John Dalli case had already cast a shadow on Malta.

"Now, the present Panamagate and the unethical behaviour of Prime Minister Muscat and his closest aides has compounded the blurred view of our country in the eyes of European Members of Parliament. It is very unfair that Toni Abela has had to pay for the unethical behaviour of our national leaders, Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri".

QUESTIONING BY MPS

When replying to the questions this morning, Dr Abela insisted that he had been cleared of any wrong doing by the police in a scandal which emerged in 2013 during which he was recorded describing how the president of a Labour Party club came across the club’s barman carving up "a block of ice". 

One MEP pointed out that this recorded case relating to cocaine was still controversial. “We are trying to understand what is going on.” Another asked “If there was no felony as you claimed, why did some people get kicked off from the party?”

Dr Abela said that that this matter had resurfaced on the Maltese press only recently. The incident had taken place two to three years before it appeared in the press and he did not breach the law in any way. He had been trying to explain that discipline was of utmost importance.

“I was investigated and judged by the electorate and yet this case has surfaced again,” he said.

Dr Abela also said that as consultant to the Prime Minister, he did not suggest anything to provoke what was happening in Malta now. Without clarifying what he was referring to, he said

It was not up to him to judge or pass a political opinion.

“If anything wrong has been done, let who has committed that wrong bear responsibility,” he said.

I will not shirk from criticising anyone even if of the same political beliefs as myself- Toni Abela

Asked about his shifting from the PL to AD and back to PL, Dr Abela said he was never ever attached to a political party in particular. When he felt it was no longer his place to remain in the PL, he helped cofound AD and campaigned for the introduction of the Whistleblower Act and the party financing law. These were only put in place two and half years ago.

He noted that he never feared his own government. His criticism also led his government to halp a development permit on territory he believed was of ecological value.

“I will not shirk from criticising anyone even if of the same political beliefs as myself,” he insisted.

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