The European Parliament yesterday took the opportunity to grill the proposed new European Commissioner from Malta, who will replace John Dalli, Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner, who resigned following what has been dubbed ‘Dalligate’. Dalli’s potential replacement is the conservative Foreign minister Tonio Borg. In Malta, Dr Borg has a record of voting and campaigning against social issues such as the legalisation of divorce, reproductive health and LGBT rights, which many NGOs argue have had a negative impact on public health(1).
Liberal MEPs in the Environment and Public Health Committee strongly opposed the appointment of Borg to the health portfolio, with MEP Cecilia Wikstrom, a Vicar by profession, calling Borg ‘a dinosaur’. Liberal Democrat MEP Rebecca Taylor joined NGOs such as the European Public Health Alliance, in raising the question of whether Mr Borg’s views will have a detrimental affect on sexual health issues. She also questions whether Mr Borg’s socially conservative views could influence policies on advanced therapies such as tissue engineering. Mr Borg was steadfast in his 3 hour hearing, declaring “I have not come here to abandon my personal views”.
Commenting, Rebecca Taylor said;
“The problem is not that Mr Borg holds these views, but whether these views will influence his decision making in the health field. Sadly, his voting record in Malta suggests this could be the case.
I believe he could be a very effective Commissioner, but for the sake of public health, it should be a different portfolio”