Update 2: ALDE, Greens reject Tonio Borg's nomination, Socialists not yet decided
ALDE and Green MEPS have rejected Tonio Borg's candidacy for EU Health Commissioner.
During Dr Borg's hearing yesterday, ALDE MEPs expressed serious concerns about his past record which, they said in a statement, suggested a discriminatory attitude on homosexuality, divorce and abortion.
This, ALDE said, would be incompatible with Dr Borg's responsibilities as EU public health and consumer policy commissioner, as well as with respect to fundamental rights.
ALDE coordinator Chris Davies said:
"We recognise that Dr Borg gave a profound performance at the hearing... We have no reason to doubt that he is competent and able.
"However, his views on homosexuality, divorce, abortion, and the scientific use of tissues and cells have been well reported and, while he stated his opposition to discrimination and support for human rights, Dr Borg made no attempt to deny his opinions on social issues of great importance...
"Accordingly we withhold our support for the confirmation of the Commissioner-designatewith regard to the particular portfolio for which he has been nominated."
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe is the third largest political group in the European Parliament.
Greens environment committee coordinator Satu Hassi said that in spite of welcoming some of Dr Borg's statements on specific files, they would not be able to endorse his candidacy due to concerns over his convictions, which he has failed to dispel.
SOCIALISTS NOT YET DECIDED
In a statement, the Socialist Group president Hannes Swoboda said:
"We regret that the Maltese government did not nominate a candidate with a less controversial track record and with more commitment to European values such as women's and LGBT rights, which are particularly dear to the S&D Group.
"However, Mr Borg's performance in the hearing did demonstrate factual knowledge and dedicated preparation which leads us to believe that he could manage the portfolio in an effective manner, if appointed.
"In the interests of swift progress on essential issues in the health and consumer protection portfolio, we are aware of the importance of appointing a dedicated Commissioner as soon as possible."
Referring to Dr Borg's commitment to ensuring his personal views did not interfere with his actions as Commissioner, Mr Swoboda said:
"Mr Borg publicly stated that his personal views would not interfere with his actions as Commissioner, if appointed, and that he would stand by the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. We just have his word for it at this point and many members are still concerned about whether he would actually follow this line once his appointment was confirmed.
"In the coming days it will be up to Mr Borg to further clarify and convince us that he will stand by those statements and keep the promises he made yesterday.
"The S&D Group will continue discussions in the coming week and vote on its position on Tuesday. If Mr Borg is confirmed, we will certainly hold him to account on his promises."
The EPP have expressed support for Dr Borg's nomination.