Tonio Borg has been nominated by Malta to replace former Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection John Dalli after his resignation on 16 October 2012. Despite Tonio Borg’s well-known stands against women’s, LGBT’s and migrants’ rights, President José Manuel Barroso approved his nomination. It still has to be agreed by the European Parliament and European Council.
We believe that this candidacy is clearly damaging for Europe and seriously concerning for the quality of health services enjoyed by those millions of European citizens.
European Humanist Federation (EHF) President Pierre Galand wrote to Mr Barroso, President of the European Commission, to express these concerns :
“Dear Mr President,
I would hereby like to call your attention to the nomination of Dr Tonio Borg as the new Commissioner responsible for Health and Consumer Protection for the remainder of the mandate of the College.
As stated in Article 2 of the TEU, the European Union has always been deeply committed to the promotion of human rights, in particular the rights of minorities, and also common European principles such as equality between men and women and non-discrimination.
There are serious doubts as to whether Mr Tonio Borg shares this commitment. As Minister of Justice in Malta, he repeatedly and vigorously opposed women’s sexual and reproductive rights and even campaigned in 2004 to constitutionalize the abortion ban in his home country. In 2011, he also strongly opposed the legalisation of divorce in Malta. In addition, he has openly expressed contempt for the LGBT community and opposed the recognition of the rights of homosexual co-habiting couples in the Maltese Parliament in 2009. Finally, as Home Affairs Minister, he clearly failed to protect the rights of illegal migrants. Despite several calls from human rights organisations, he oversaw in 2001 the deportation of more than 200 Eritreans back to Eritrea where several of them were eventually tortured and killed.
Given the strong commitment of the European Commission to protecting and promoting human rights and non-discrimination, we are therefore extremely concerned to note that you approved Mr Borg’s candidacy as European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection. We believe this candidacy is clearly damaging to the image of Malta in the European Union and is also an ambiguous signal coming from the institution over which you preside.
We are strongly convinced that other candidates, who better reflect European values, could be appointed by Malta for the Health and Consumer Protection portfolio. We therefore respectfully ask you to support any initiative in that direction and reconsider Mr Borg’s candidacy.
30 October 2012
The European Humanist Federation unites humanist and secularist organisations across Europe.
The EHF is based in Brussels and is registered as an international non-profit association under Belgian law.