Hearings before this Parliament for nominees to the EU’s Court of Auditors are consultative. Nominees who receive a negative vote in committee or plenary, can still be appointed if the Council of Ministers so decides. Dr Toni Abela was nominated this year by the Maltese government. He promised that if turned down by the relevant Committee of the Parliament, he’d withdraw. So he did. I applaud Abela for his political integrity. I cannot applaud how his nomination was reviewed. It frequently happens, as with Abela, that occult elements organize campaigns to discredit nominees, alleging dishonourable or criminal behaviour. Nominees can defend themselves during face to face meetings with members of the committee and during the hearing. In Abela’s case, the hearing was short. Allegations against him could not be fully clarified. Other issues too needed discussion. Abela was treated unfairly. If this Parliament wishes hearings on nominations to be meaningful, it should reconsider how to conduct them. When allegations of criminal or dishonourable behaviour arise, they should be considered separately by a jury d’honneur, aided by legal counsel, on the basis of facts. The hearing would then concentrate on the personal, professional and political abilities of the nominee.

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