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Konrad Mizzi’s talks in Brussels kept under wraps

Minister Without Portfolio Konrad Mizzi. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Minister Without Portfolio Konrad Mizzi. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Confusion reigned in Brussels this week over unpublicised talks with embattled Minister without Portfolio Konrad Mizzi on energy issues.

Although the government has kept Dr Mizzi’s visit to Brussels under wraps, the Times of Malta is informed that last Monday he met Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic who is responsible for the Energy Union.

A meeting scheduled with Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, responsible for energy and climate change, was also scheduled but cancelled for unknown reasons.

Asked to confirm talks with the Maltese minister and to state what was discussed, a spokeswoman for Commissioner Sefcovic confirmed that a meeting took place “upon the request of Minister Mizzi”.

Malta’s EU presidency in relation to the EU’s energy union strategy was the subject of the meeting

“We can confirm that Minister Mizzi asked for the meeting and that Malta’s EU presidency in relation to the EU’s energy union strategy was the subject of the meeting,” the spokeswoman said.

Asked whether the commissioner was aware that Dr Mizzi was no longer the minister responsible for energy and whether he was comfortable in meeting him since he is directly involved in the Panama Papers scandal, the spokeswoman avoided a direct reply.

“By principle, the Commission does not comment on allegations taking place in the national context,” the spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, the meeting scheduled for the same day with Commissioner Canete did not take place even though the Spanish commissioner’s official diary announced an appointment with “Malta’s Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi”.

“The meeting did not take place,” the commissioner’s spokesman said without giving any reason.

The spokeswoman noted that Dr Mizzi’s nomenclature as “Minister for Energy” was derived from the fact that he “represented Malta at the Transport, Telecommunication and Energy Council”.

When the Times of Malta pointed out that there was no such meeting this week, she said that she was not referring to any particular meeting.

Last April, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that he was stripping Dr Mizzi’s energy and health portfolios as a result of his involvement in the Panama Papers.

However, Dr Mizzi still kept his place in Cabinet and is appearing and negotiating on behalf of the government on issues related to energy.

A few weeks ago, Dr Mizzi also represented Malta at an informal meeting of EU ministers in Slovakia.

EU sources told the Times of Malta yesterday that the government had not informed EU institutions that Dr Mizzi was no longer responsible for energy.

“We understand that as far as we are concerned, Minister Mizzi is still responsible for Malta’s energy file,” the sources said.

Asked why the government had not issued a statement on Dr Mizzi’s discussions in Brussels, as is the norm in the case of other ministers, the Prime Minister’s spokesman did not reply.

Together with the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, the Panama Papers leaks revealed that Minister Mizzi opened secret companies in Panama – a tax haven – and undeclared trusts in New Zealand.

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