All five of Malta’s candidates for EU Public Prosecutor were rejected at the first hurdle, with sources raising concerns that none of them came even close to meeting criteria.
An ideal candidate must have at least 15 years experience in their field, five years experience in a management role, and be an “outstanding” professional with high ethical standards and personal integrity.
One of the five nominees was Charles Mercieca, the young lawyer who left the Attorney General’s office to join Yorgen Fenech’s defence. He was nominated to the role in December 2019 but had only started working for the AG’s office in May 2018.
The details were revealed by Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis following a parliamentary question from PN MP Jason Azzopardi.
Sources have been raising concern that inadequate candidates are simply a tactic to delay the procedure. The delays have not gone unnoticed with the European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders even saying that entry requirements will need to be lowered to bring Malta on board.
Malta was initially not part of the EPPO program, which would give the EU power to prosecute and investigate cross-border financial issues, such as fraud, corruption or VAT fraud. The country was pressured to join following the Panama Papers and other corruption scandals.
So what do you need to become a European Public Prosecutor?
To even be allowed to apply for the role, Malta’s nomination must be an active member of a public prosecution service or judiciary. They must be a citizen of that particular member state and know at least two European languages.
They’ll also need to have the necessary qualifications and practical experience in some of the highest prosecutorial or judicial offices in the country.
However, the bare minimum, as five Maltese candidates found out, is not enough.
The ideal candidate should have at least 15 years of professional experience in the field and at least five years experience in a management position within a prosecutor or judicial authority – and they need the relevant track record to prove it.
They need to show substantial achievements as a leader, manager and communicator, both at strategic and internal management levels.
They must be an outstanding and dynamic professional of sound judgement and high conceptual ability with the capacity to develop, communicate and execute a clear strategic vision for achieving the EPPO’s objectives. In-depth knowledge of the institutional and legal framework of the Union is a must.
“The ideal candidate must have high ethical standards and personal integrity,” the EPPO’s brief reads.
If a candidate satisfies these criteria, they will still need to go through a rigorous interview process before being selected to the role.
With Malta’s university a quasi-factory for the legal profession, questions must be asked what exactly is behind the delay. Whatever the reason, none of the five candidates found in three public calls were eligible for the role, putting spokes in the wheels of this crucial position.
A MoneyVal test that could blacklist Malta is just a few months away, and Malta must prove its commitment to fight international financial crime.
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