Friday

23rd Aug 2019

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.

Investigation

US billionaires funding EU culture war

Conservative US billionaires, some with links to Trump, are paying anti-abortion lobbyists in Europe tens of millions of dollars to shape policy and law.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us