Opposing Tonio Borg’s nomination as EU Commissioner

Opposing Tonio Borg’s nomination as EU Commissioner

In November 2012, the EHF strongly opposed the nomination of the Maltese candidate Tonio Borg as EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer policy.

We thought that his ultra-conservative views on a number of societal issues (abortion, contraception, LGBT’s rights) could be damaging for the quality of health services enjoyed by European citizens. We led this campaign towards EU decision makers with several other NGOs. Tonio Borg’s nomination was eventually confirmed but this campaign cleary raised EU decision makers’ and citizens’ awareness on the need to watch him out while dealing with health issues.

Read our Joint statement opposing Tonio Borg’s nomination as EU commissioner:


Civil society organisations are calling on the European Parliament to reject the nomination of Tonio Borg as the next EU Health Commissioner and on EU Commission President Barroso to withdraw the nomination of Tonio Borg.

On 13 November 2012, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety will be questioning Tonio Borg, Malta’s new nominee for the post of the EU Health Commissioner.

Our organisations are seriously concerned with Tonio Borg’s ultra conservative views on a number of social issues related to EU competencies.

We believe that his long term, dedicated, consistent actions, statements, campaigns and voting records conveyed as ‘issues of conscience’ aimed at introducing and implementing policies and practices reflecting his views, are not compatible with the fundamental principles and values of the European Union and would prevent him from being an impartial Commissioner. This is especially the case for the public health portfolio.

Tonio Borg’s appointment would be a serious risk to the principles of fundamental rights and a strong signal of departure by the European Commission from those principles.

In view of the above, and the Tonio Borg’s documented track record, we call upon the members of the European Parliament not to support the nomination of Tonio Borg and calling on EU Commission President Barosso to withdraw the nomination of Tonio Borg.


Catholics for Choice –  www.catholicsforchoice.org

COFACE – Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union www.coface-eu.org

European Humanist Federation www.humanistfederation.eu

ENAR – European Network against Racism www.enar-eu.org

EATG – European AIDS Treatment Group www.eatg.org

ILGA-Europe –European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association www.ilga-europe.org

IPPF European Network – International Planned Parenthood Federation www.ippfen.org

PICUM – Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants www.picum.org

The concerns are shared by other NGOs, such as the European Public Health Alliance: www.epha.org/a/5437


Jacqueline Nolley Echegaray, Senior Associate, Catholics for Choice:
“For Catholics, the conscience holds pride of place among our beliefs. Catholics believe that all individuals, both religious and non-religious, must follow the conscience as their moral guide, while respecting others’ right to do the same. That is why it is so troubling to see a Catholic policymaker such as Tonio Borg who evidently does not believe that others also have the right to follow their conscience, especially in matters of reproductive choice and sexuality.”

Agnes Uhereczky, Director, COFACE:
“The European Union, and thus its institutions are governed by the Charter of Fundamental rights. These values are rigorously verified and questioned by the European Commission when they receive an application for a project or funding, whenever there is a decision to cooperate with an organisation or not. Therefore it would be hypocritical not to apply the same rigour when selecting and appointing one of their highest level officials, the Commissioner for Health and Consumer affairs. We at COFACE, the Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union would like to see a Commissioner, who is a real example in non-discrimination, protection of the most vulnerable and safeguarding the interest of all the people living in Europe. This includes all form of families, whether they are of immigrant background, ethnic origin, divorced, separated, single parents or lone parents, rainbow families, couples with or without children. We trust the European Parliament will do what is needed in this delicate situation to safeguard the values we all cherish and believe in.”

Pierre Galand, President, European Humanist Federation:
“Mr. Borg’s candidacy for the Health and Consumer Policy portfolio of the European commission is a threat to the quality of health services enjoyed by European citizens. His nomination would be a disgrace for the European Union. The EHF is strongly convinced that other candidates, who better reflect European values, could be appointed by Malta.”

Chibo Onyeji, Chair, ENAR:
“Mr. Borg’s dismal track record in protecting migrants’ rights and the fundamental right to non-discrimination is incompatible with his role as European Commissioner. He clearly misses the mark in his responsibility to uphold the European Union’s commitment to human rights, and in the area of healthcare this is all the more important.”

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of Executive Board, ILGA-Europe:
“Mr. Borg has proved beyond any doubt that his actions and policies he advocated for are completely incompatible with the role of an EU Commissioner. The European Commission and each Commissioner need to safeguard the implementation of EU treaties and EU law which clearly put respect for fundamental rights and non-discrimination in the very core of the EU values. This is not a reflection on his personal views, but simply ensuring that a new Commissioner has proven track record of upholding the principles and values of the European Union and Mr. Borg had demonstrated completely opposite.”

Vicky Claeys, Regional Director of the European Network, IPPF:
“As European Commissioner for Public Health and Consumer policy, Dr. Tonio Borg will have full responsibility for EU funded health interventions and strategies” says Vicky Claeys, Regional Director of IPPF European Network. “He would have to deal with a range of issues that are important for European citizens such as tackling inequalities in access to healthcare and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. Both areas should include programmes related to sexual and reproductive health, in particular directed to young people and other vulnerable groups such as single mothers and young people, LGBT and migrants. Thus far the record of Dr Borg does not give any hope that, as a Commissioner, he will act unbiased and respect the needs of all Europeans. As a Commissioner he should not be allowed to be a conscious objector”.

Michele LeVoy, Director, PICUM:
“The designation of Mr Borg has been met with strong resistance from a wide number of human rights groups and other actors who share well founded concerns about his suitability as an EU Commissioner.  It is unfathomable that a candidate would be appointed whose credibility has been so severely compromised by past political decisions which have been in clear contradiction with the core values of the European Union.“

Media coverage

Secular groups plan to protest against the Commissioner-designate

MEPs prepare to grill Tonio Borg, European Voice, 25 October 2012

AD – nomination of Tonio Borg is ‘irresponsible’, Malta Today, 30 October 2012

Tonio Borg | The quintessential Nationalist, Malta Today, 6 November 2012-11-11

Reject Borg, German MEP says, European Voice, 8 November 2012

‘Reject Borg’ German liberal MEP says, Malta Today, 8 November 2012-11-11

Swedish vicar-MEP dubs commissioner-designate Tonio Borg ‘dinosaur’, Malta Today, 9 November 2012

Borg’s nomination hinges on Socialists, Times of Malta, 11 November 2012

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