Malta nominates foreign minister as new EU commissioner

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Malta has nominated Foreign Minister Tonio Borg to replace John Dalli as its European Commissioner.

Dalli resigned as the EU's commissioner for health and consumer protection last week after an investigation connected him with an attempt to influence EU tobacco legislation.

"Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi spoke with President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and informed him of the nomination of the Maltese government," a statement from Malta's Department of Information said late on Saturday (20 October).

The nomination must be approved by the European Parliament after a hearing where the candidate is quizzed by MEPs.

Borg has been foreign minister since 2008 and deputy leader of the ruling Nationalist Party since 2004.

Born in 1957, Borg studied at St Aloysius College and later at the University of Malta from where he graduated as a lawyer in 1979. He is a constitutional lawyer and holds an MSc in human rights. He has three children.

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The European People's Party (EPP) welcomed the decision of the Maltese Government to nominate Dr Tonio Borg for the post of European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy. "I commend Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi for acting swiftly in nominating a new Commissioner", said Joseph Daul, Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament. "Europe is facing a serious economic challenge and a fully functional and focused European Commission is essential to continue combating the crisis effectively. Prime Minister Gonzi's decision to act immediately in response to Commissioner Dalli's unexpected resignation shows the Maltese Government's sense of responsibility in ensuring that the European Commission is immediately restored to its full complement in the best interest of public trust in the Institution," Daul said.

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