De Jong will cross-examine European Commission candidate

13 November 2012

De Jong will cross-examine European Commission candidate

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong will today question candidate for the European Commission Tonio Borg during a hearing in the European Parliament. Borg, who is Maltese, has been nominated as replacement, to take office next month, for the Commissioner for health and consumer rights John Dalli, who has gone as a result of an investigation into his close links with the tobacco lobby. ‘A European Commissioner, and certainly a Commissioner for health and consumer rights, should not be secretive over his contacts with the tobacco lobby,’ says De Jong, ‘so I want Borg to say how he plans to dispel the smokescreen surrounding the tobacco lobby.’

As well as questions regarding contacts with lobbyists there are, in the SP’s view, other concerns. Gay rights associations have reacted with alarm to Borg’s nomination. ‘Borg is known to have an extremely conservative attitude to homosexuality,’ De Jong explains. ‘I want Borg to guarantee that in his policies he will not discriminate and that he will defend the rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals (LGBTs). If Borg as European Commissioner doesn’t intend to take a stand on behalf of same-sex couples that find themselves discriminated against by a hotel while on holiday, then he isn’t the right candidate for this job. I want to receive an assurance as well that he will get 100% behind the proposal from the Commission for an anti-discrimination directive emphatically forbidding such discrimination. Negotiations over this have already gone on far too long.’

Circumstances surrounding the departure of Commissioner Dalli remain, according to the SP, extremely unclear. In order to get to the bottom of the matter, the Budgetary Control Committee, responsible for matters concerning integrity, has asked the president of the European Parliament to demand all relevant materials from the Commission. In particular the report from fraud watchdog OLAF, must, according to the European Parliament, offer some explanation of his resignation. European Commission president Manuel Barroso has so far refused to hand over these documents. It is in addition still by no means certain that Barroso will come to the European Parliament to explain e Dalli’s dismissal.

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