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CFC in the News - 2012

Malta Star

Will Tonio Borg fill the seat?

13 November 2012

Tonio Borg could soon be responsible for creating laws that will affect the lives of millions of Europeans if he is appointed as health and consumer affairs commissioner. Before this happens, Parliament will submit him to an intense grilling to assess his suitability.

The room is filling up for what seemingly augurs an interesting event. But will Tonio Borg be able to fill the seat?

Many lobby groups, MEPs have opposed his nomination. Others have defended him.

Speaking before today's committee hearing of the new Health & Consumer Affairs Commissioner nominee, Nessa Childers MEP, says he is not suitable to become Commissioner.

"The Maltese government have nominated a strong social conservative to the vacant post of Health Commissioner. While I respect his right to his views, I am concerned that these views will cause difficulties on this portfolio in particular. I am urging my MEP colleagues on the Health Committee today to reject his nomination," Childers argued.

According to newsportal NewEurope Catholics for Choice also released a factsheet on Tonio Borg documenting is public statements and influence on Maltese legislation during his time as a minister. The European Parliament’s intergroup on LGBT rights has also been lobbying members behind the scenes, urging a rejection of Borg’s nomination based on his attitudes to sexuality, abortion, IVF and divorce.

Socialist group president, Hannes Swoboda is reportedly against Borg’s appointment. According to MEP Sophia in’t Veld, the Liberals are also keenly against the appointment, but the group leadership has not been forthcoming with any position, perhaps, like the Greens, adopting a more sensible ‘wait and see’ policy.

EPP; the largest group in Parliament came to Dr. Borg defence saying that "religion has no part in the debate".

"During today's hearing today and if he becomes Commissioner, he must commit to a definite timeline to release the crucial tobacco directive which has been delayed without good reason by Commission President Barroso after the Dalli affair. This directive is a top priority of the Irish Presidency. The temporary Commissioner Sefcovic should release this directive immediately so MEPs and governments can get on with legislating for tobacco control in Europe," MEP Childers said.

One question remains: Can the European Parliament afford to freeze the Tobacco Directive?

This article was originally published by the Malta Star.