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MT 18 September 2016

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25 maltatoday, SUNDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2016 Opinion suppress any original thought or contribution they themselves might individually make… well, we don't need 69 MPs for that, do we? We could get by with only one, and just change our status from 'democracy' to 'dictatorship'. Ah, but that's the sort of thing you can't really expect to get away with these days: so instead, we create a fake Parliament just to meet all the necessary democratic criteria; and then pretend it doesn't exist. But Leo's statement tells us much more than that. It also confirms that he was actually perfectly suited to the job he has so unwisely been denied. If the Court of Auditors exists to simply be bypassed and ignored by a higher political power, for purely political reasons… well, what better candidate could you possibly want, than one who did exactly the same thing in the case of the confidence vote in Konrad Mizzi? This however brings us to the overwhelming difference between the two scenarios. Incredibly, the European Parliament found Brincat's defence unacceptable last Tuesday. For some strange reason, MEPs were unimpressed by Brincat's candid admission that he tends to crumple like a paper bag when confronted by political pressure… even though that's exactly what the job description requires of an ECA member any way. Besides: the European Parliament never objected to the same behaviour when it came from European Commissioners and ECA members before… so how can 'kow-towing to higher political authority' be considered a liability only now? Ah, well, I guess the European Parliament will discover at its leisure the sheer value of what an asset they have so casually rejected. Like Othello's " base Indian", it may realise it "threw a pearl away richer than all its tribe." Where else do they think they'll find a replacement with quite as much experience at sacrificing personal principles for the sake of tribal politics? That sort of person doesn't grow on trees, you know… it takes years (decades, in Brincat's case) of political grooming within the ranks of a local party. You have to have every trace of individuality bludgeoned out of you by a merciless, uncompromising political machine… and then survive the rat-race that is Maltese politics. Leo not only went through all that and more… but he even supplied graphic evidence of his unparalleled expertise in Tuesday's hearing. At one point, he told MEP's that he had aired his misgivings about Konrad Mizzi internally within the party, and externally in the press… and, well, we can all see with our own eyes what a fat lot of good that did. Just think, then, what a spectacularly effective European auditor he would have been, given a chance. "Excuse me, Mr Commissioner, but I have my doubts as to whether…? "Really? Who gives a shit? You're just there to keep up appearances, while we take all the political decisions, remember?" "Yes sir, of course sir, three bags full sir," etc. Oh well. Guess that makes us one hell of a lucky nation. We humbly offered up one of our prized possessions to occupy an entirely menial and pointless European position… and they sent him packing back home. So we get to benefit from Leo Brincat's overwhelming expertise, while the EU is left to cast about for as adequate a replacement as it can. Naturally, this has to be offset by a few minor losses of our own. Once again, we have been roundly dismissed as a nation of crooks and swindlers, which wouldn't be quite so irksome if the people dissing us were all squeaky clean themselves. As with the ECA experience, however, the same pattern extends to European governance. We seem to occasionally forget that the brief history of the European Union is already littered with corruption scandals, revolving door incidents, and cosy little relations between governments and corporate interests. In reinventing the EU to fit a purely local political narrative, we simply glossed over all the times European institutions have been caught with their pants down… like when the entire Santer Commission resigned en masse over corruption in 1999. And we've even forgotten that many of the most questionable recent controversies were approved and rubberstamped by the self-same European parliament that made such a stink about Brincat's 'involvement' in the Panama Papers. The European People's Party, for instance, was the most vociferous in its objections to Brincat. This is the same EPP that had nominated Jean- Claude Juncker for the post of Commission president… at a time when the former Luxembourg Prime Minister was engulfed by tax evasion scandals back home. The 'Lux-leaks' scandals is worth revisiting today, so soon after the European Parliament voted against Brincat 'on principle'. One has to enquire what 'principle' they were referring to, exactly. Was it the one they displayed when approving a Commission president accused of facilitating widespread tax evasion and money laundering, through precisely the same sort of legal/fiscal apparatus as revealed by the Panama Papers? Bearing in mind that MEPs were not voting for or against Konrad Mizzi himself last Tuesday… but a Labour MP who was compelled by the same forces that had tied even the European Commission's hands back in 2007… I find it extraordinary that MEPs would so suddenly cultivate a strong principled stand out of nothing, from one day to the next. Wish we could all do the same, would make life so much easier… But in any case. Like I said, it's ultimately the European Union's loss and our gain. I expect they'll be back at our door in no time at all, begging us for Leo with tears in their eyes. All I can to say that is: let 'em cry. If they want our Leo back, they'll have to prise him from our cold, dead hands.… Legal Aid Malta was established in 2014 as part of the Justice Reform. It provides legal services to indigent people who qualify for legal aid in civil and criminal matters. VACANCY NOTICE Legal Aid Malta invites applications from team driven, motivated, communicative, willing-to-learn individuals for the post of CLERICAL OFFICER within our Agency. Required Qualifications: six ordinary levels which include Maltese, English Language and Mathematics (or full vocational education and training level 3) ECDL Be fluent speakers of Maltese and English language Confident in communication skills to deal with clients Experience in office work and administration is considered an asset. A curriculum vitae with a motivation letter for the above mentioned post will be received latest by 28 September, 2016 at: or by post at the following address: Manager, Legal Aid Malta Agency, 'Chateau de la Ville', 21, Archbishop Street, Valletta VLT1443. Jobsplus permit number 457/2016 Once again, we have been roundly dismissed as a nation of crooks and swindlers, which wouldn't be quite so irksome if the people dissing us were all squeaky clean themselves The European People's Party was the most vociferous in its objections to Brincat - the same EPP that nominated Jean-Claude Juncker for the post of Commission president… at a time when the former Luxembourg Prime Minister was engulfed by tax evasion scandals back home Leo Brincat (left) and Jean-Claude Juncker

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