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Harry Vassallo joining Dalli's team in Brussels

Former Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Harry Vassallo is to join EU Commissioner John Dalli's private cabinet in Brussels.

When contacted, Dr Vassallo confirmed the move saying: "I will be moving to Brussels to be a member of John Dalli's cabinet."

The news comes six weeks after Dr Vassallo denied speculation about the move. "It was just too early for me and I hadn't decided yet," he said when asked why he had taken a reticent approach.

Sources said Dr Vassallo, who led Alternattiva for 10 years between 1998 and 2008 on a pro-EU ticket, was among the first invited by Mr Dalli to join his team, following his nomination. Until a few days ago, Dr Vassallo was editor of Media Today's Sunday Maltese language newspaper Illum.

Dr Vassallo, considered to be a moderate, is known to have strong contacts with the Green Group in the European Parliament, which Mr Dalli will be using in his favour particularly due to environment-sensitive issues in his portfolio such as animal welfare and GMOs.

His move to Brussels will complete Mr Dalli's eight-member cabinet, which will be headed by Joanna Darmanin - outgoing Commissioner Joe Borg's deputy chief - and includes former Nationalist MEP candidate Edward Demicoli.

The Commissioner's inner circle will also include a French spokesman and EU fonctionnaires from Germany, Italy, Portugal and Austria.

Mr Dalli will take up his new post on Wednesday, the day after European Parliament is expected to approve the new Commission.

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