Friday

19th Aug 2022

Malta's EU candidate shakes off tobacco link

Malta's would-be new EU health commissioner Tonio Borg is to sell a tiny investment linked to the tobacco industry for the sake of "good faith."

The Brussels-based NGO, Corporate Europe Observatory, on Monday (19 November) circulated information that La Valette Sterling Income Fund, in which Borg owns about 2,300 shares, itself owns bonds issued by US firm Imperial Tobacco.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Borg told EUobserver the sums involved are "infinitesimal" and that he did not know what the fund was doing with his money.

But the revelation - coming 48 hours before MEPs vote on his nomination and one month after his predecessor, John Dalli, lost his job in a tobacco lobbying scandal - was awkward enough to prompt action.

"Last year I earned £90 [€112] from the fund, of which the sum indirectly derived from Imperial Tobacco bonds was in the region of £1.80," Borg said.

"In spite of the absence of a conflict of interest and to demonstrate utmost good faith, I have given instructions so that this investment is disposed of," he added.

"I will not weaken the tobacco control directive in any way," he also said, referring to a draft bill by Dalli, which had envisaged some tough measures, such as forcing cigarette makers to use plain packs covered in pictures of diseased lungs, before its author left his post.

Opposition to Borg among left-leaning MEPs has so far concentrated on his Roman Catholic mores.

The Liberal and Green groups, as well as individual MEPs in the centre-left S&D faction, plan to vote No on Wednesday on grounds that his views on homosexuality and on contraception will make him do his job less well.

Borg on Saturday sent a two-page letter to MEPs on the subject.

He said he is a "strong believer in the innate dignity of all, regardless of their sexual orientation."

He pledged to fight HIV-linked social stigma and to lobby the World Health Organisation to stop saying that people who have a sex change are mentally ill.

He also promised to table a new law on genetically-modified food and on cloned animals in mid-2013 and to make sure there is no delay to an EU ban on cosmetic products which have been tested on animals.

Left-wing MEPs unimpressed by Borg

Euro deputies have given mixed views on Tonio Borg, Malta’s candidate for EU commissioner on health and consumer affairs.

Labour wins by a landslide in Malta

Joseph Muscat's Labour party romped to victory in Malta's general election on Sunday, ending fifteen years in opposition.

Slovakia's government stares into the abyss

When a pro-western coalition swept to power in Slovak elections in 2020, many saw it as the start of a new era. Yet fast forward two-and-a-half years, and the four-party coalition is teetering on the brink of collapse.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. UN chief meets Zelensky and Erdogan over grain exports
  2. Fighting stalls ahead of UN visit, Ukraine says
  3. German chancellor to face MPs over tax-fraud probe
  4. Norway wealth fund makes record €171bn loss
  5. German utility firm Uniper on 'brink of insolvency'
  6. ECB mulls big interest rate hike amid recession risk
  7. Germany unlikely to hit November gas-storage target
  8. Mali accuses France of arming Islamist fighters

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Latest News

  1. Serbia expects difficult talks with Kosovo at EU meeting
  2. How scary is threat to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
  3. Slovakia's government stares into the abyss
  4. Finland restricts Russian tourist visas
  5. Conditions met for German nuclear extension, officials say
  6. A year of Taliban — only aid is keeping Afghan kids alive
  7. Is this strange summer a moment of change?
  8. Germany rejects visa ban for Russian tourists

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us