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Cuschieri takes his seat

Labour MEP Joseph Cuschieri has finally taken his seat at the European Parliament, with President Jerzy Buzek yesterday announcing his name as one of the first of 13 new MEPs joining the plenary.

The “phantom MEPs” – as they have been nicknamed in Brussels due to their long wait – are supposed to be 18 representing 12 member states. However, it seems Austria, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia are in no hurry to send their new representatives to the EP, and they have not yet nominated them.

After embarking on a personal campaign of more than two years to make sure the Treaty protocol concerning the new seats was ratified expediently by all member states, Mr Cuschieri last month declared he was having second thoughts on whether he wanted to join his five Maltese MEP colleagues in Brussels.

Saying he wanted to make sure he had the time to deliver politically before deciding, Mr Cuschieri said he did not want to go to the EP “just for the money”.

However, his cold feet are a thing of the past as The Times is informed he has already employed his assistant in Brussels – a former Labour Party employee who later joined the EU institutions as a translator. He is also seeking to become a member of the EP’s Transport and Tourism Committee. All MEPs are normally assigned to follow a particular committee where the bulk of their work is done.

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