EXCLUSIVE / MEPs are due to vote next Wednesday (21 November) on the nomination of Tonio Borg as health and consumer protection commissioner. With three political groups lining up against his appointment, he will be asked to make a series of commitments if he is to get the job, EurActiv has learned.
Leaders of the Parliament’s political groups decided yesterday (15 November) on the conditions that Borg should meet to win endorsement, saying it would be “vital” that Borg affirms publicly his commitment to a list of demands.
Borg, Malta's deputy prime minister and foreign minister, was quizzed by MEPs from the Parliament's committees for the environment, the internal market and agriculture on Tuesday (12 November).
MEPs generally agree that Borg successfully sailed through the three-hour Parliamentary vetting. However, three political groups oppose his appointment.
The liberal ALDE group agrees that Borg gave a professional performance, but still has strong concerns on his views on homosexuality, divorce, abortion, and the scientific use of tissues and cells.
The Green/EFA group acknowledges that Borg has shown “general competence”, but adds to the list of concerns of the liberal group also Borg’s positions with regard to minorities.
The leftist GUE/NGL has said that Borg’s “conservative views” would be detrimental to a number of EU policies, including employment, social affairs, equal opportunities, common foreign and security policy, and justice and citizen’s rights.
The centre-right EPP and the conservative ECR have lined up in support of Borg, who has been named to replace John Dalli.
S&D holds the key of power balance
The centre-left S&D group takes a different view: on the one hand, it states that it has concerns about the candidate’s “previous stance” with regard to gender equality and women’s sexual and reproductive rights. But S&D conclude their assessment by saying that Borg has made specific commitments in public and that Parliament would watch carefully how he delivers on those.
As a result of the position of S&D, Parliament’s group leaders agreed that for Borg to be endorsed by a majority in the house, he should publicly commit to the following:
- The delivery of the legislative proposal on tobacco products by January 2013;
- The adoption of legislative proposals on animal cloning and novel food by mid-2013;
- The full respect of the March 2013 deadline for the ban of animal testing for cosmetics;
- Better enforcement of EU law on animal transport;
- Full respect of the EU Charter on Fundamental rights, in particular of Article 21, as well as of EU anti-discrimination legislation and case-law;
- Recognising the innate dignity of all citizens of the EU, regardless of their sexual orientations, actively working to address health inequalities and to acting against stigmatisation of people with HIV and AIDS;
- Actively supporting EU policies with regard to women’s rights.
If Borg makes the commitments and a majority of S&D MEPs vote in favour of Borg, he is likely to be confirmed as commissioner, EurActiv was told.
John Dalli resigned as the EU's commissioner for health and consumer protection after an investigation connected him with an attempt to influence EU tobacco legislation.
The nomination of Tonio Borg, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Malta, to succeed Dalli must be approved by the European Parliament.