The Malta Independent 4 December 2023, Monday
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George Hyzler passes first stage of European Court of Auditors grilling 'with flying colours'

Thursday, 21 April 2022, 15:08 Last update: about 3 years ago

George Hyzler passed the first stage of his European Court of Auditors grilling with flying colours on Thursday, with 25 members of the European Parliament’s CONT committee approving his nomination, sources told The Malta Independent.

Hyzler, who currently serves as the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, was nominated by the Maltese government to serve on the ECA in January of this year.

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Only two members of the CONT, or Budgetary Control Committee, voted against, while there was one abstention.

Formal approval is expected by the European Parliament early in May. The EP is expected to endorse Hyzler’s candidature after the favourable vote at committee stage, the sources said.

During the grilling, Hyzler gave a round up of his professional life and political past, also explaning his role as Standards Commissioner.

He said his previous experience as a member of Malta’s Public Accounts Committee will serve him well in the role of member of the ECA.

Hyzler explained how after his departure from politics in 2003 he has served as Malta’s non-resident Ambassador to South Africa, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Malta Arbitration Centre, President (Bâtonnier) of the Chamber of Advocates, Member of the Commission for Administration of Justice, Member of the Judicial Appointments Committee and Chairman of the Ethics Committee for Advocates.

He said that, as Standards Commissioner, he has “taken bold decisions to expose shortcomings in ethical behaviour and conduct across the political divide, strongly and fairly.”

Through his reports, he has raised issues such as the conflict of interest that is created when backbench members of Parliament are engaged by the government as consultants or chairpersons of boards, and the conflict of interest when opposition MPs retain their jobs within the public sector.

His work also included invesigations into misuse of public funds by ministers for self-promotion, and dealings between politicians and business interests.

“As a result of my investigations, for the first time in Malta ministers have been held directly to account for breaches of ethics. In two instances this has resulted in ministerial resignations. This has also resulted in an increased awareness of standards of public life in Malta at a time when Malta’s reputation has come under severe international scrutiny following the Panama Papers revelations, the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and FATF grey-listing,” Hyzler said.

“I therefore feel very gratified and privileged to be here before you in the belief that I can contribute to the European project at a time when Europe is under threat, and when our collective achievements are at risk of being undermined by war or internal scepticism.” 

Hyzler said that, through the ECA, he wishes to play a part in realising the aspiration expressed by EP President Roberta Metsola, when she stated “I want people to believe in Europe. To re-capture that sense of hope & enthusiasm in our project. To stand up for those values that unite us as Europeans.”

“I believe that my well-received contribution in the spheres of integrity, transparency and accountability in Malta can also be beneficial to the improvements undertaken by the ECA in recent months.” 

The Next Generation EU particularly the Recovery and Resilience Facility, in this post-pandemic period will continue to provide new audit challenges that will require a departure from traditional audit approaches, with even more emphasis on performance auditing, he continued.

“If nominated as a member of ECA I shall certainly bring the expertise and experiences of my entire career to my role  in enhancing vigilance and – combatting  fraud and corruption– especially in those areas where risks are higher.”

“I wish to assure you that as I have shown in my professional life, as a member of the ECA, I would act professionally, with independence and with integrity. I would also serve with absolute loyalty to the European Union goals and the values and mission of the Court to improve citizens’ trust in our institutions, to contribute to a more resilient and sustainable European Union, and to uphold the values that the EU stands for.”

In a short statement, Hyzler was congratulated by the government for the result achieved.

PN leader Bernard Grech also congratulated Hyzler, saying that he is certain that he would carry out his new duties seriously and expressed his hope that the big gap left in Malta by Hyzler's departure will be filled as soon as possible after the Opposition is consulted.

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