EHF: Tonio Borg’s nomination as European Commissioner would be a disgrace for the EU

31 October 2012

Read the EHF’s press release on the candidacy of Tonio Borg as European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy.


Tonio Borg’s nomination as European Commissioner would be a disgrace for the EU


On October 16th, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, from Malta, resigned after an anti-fraud inquiry linked him to an attempt to influence tobacco legislation. Malta has now nominated its Foreign Affairs Minister, Tonio Borg, to replace the former European Commissioner for the remainder of the mandate of the College.

“This nomination is a disgrace for the European Union, says Pierre Galand, President of the European Humanist Federation (EHF). The EU has always been deeply committed to the promotion of human rights but there are serious doubts as to whether Mr. Tonio Borg shares this commitment.”

As Minister of Justice in Malta, Tonio Borg 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.

For the European Humanist Federation Tonio Borg’s candidacy is clearly damaging to the image of Malta in the European Union but is also very risky for the quality of health services enjoyed by European citizens. This EHF is strongly convinced that other candidates, who better reflect European values, could be appointed by Malta for the Health and Consumer Policy portfolio. The EHF requested the European Commission to reconsider Tonio Borg’s candidacy and MEPs to vote against it.


Pierre Galand

President of the European Humanist Federation