Monday

24th Sep 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.

Sefcovic launches bid to be EU Commission president

Europe must have a robust foreign policy and nurture high-tech industries, Slovak EU commissioner Maros Sefcovic has said in his bid to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as the next EU commission president.

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

Political groups in the European Parliament are split about how to vote for a directive that would reform the EU's copyright regime - amid warnings that freedom of expression and creators' rights are at risk.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us