Sunday

18th Nov 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Opinion

Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar

In Brussels, PR professionals and lobbying consultants are working for some of the world's most autocratic regimes. And we have no way of knowing for sure who they are, how much they are paid, or what they are up to.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us