LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

NGOs: Reject nomination of Tonio Borg as new EU Health Commissioner

Today at 17:00 members of the European Parliament Sophie In’t Veld (ALDE), Franziska Brantner (The Greens/EFA) and a coalition of seven civil society organisations are hosting a press conference regarding the nomination of Tonio Borg as the new EU health Commissioner.

UPDATE: Watch the live web streaming of the hearing on Tuesday 13 November 15.00 (CET) in the European Parliament here.

The civil society organisations are calling on the European Parliament to reject his nomination and on EU Commission President Barosso to withdraw the nomination of Tonio Borg (please see below joint statement).

The press conference will take place at the European Parliament: A5G-1 (building Altiero Spinelli).


Civil society organisations: “Tonio Borg is not suitable to be the next EU Health Commissioner”

12 November 2012, Brussels

Civil society organsiations are calling on the European Parliament to reject the nomination of Tonio Borg as the next EU Health Commissioner and on EU Commission President Barosso to withdraw the nomination of Tonio Borg.

On 13 November 2012, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety will be questioning Tonio Borg, Malta’s new nominee for the post of the EU Health Commissioner.

Our organisations are seriously concerned with Tonio Borg’s ultra conservative views on a number of social issues related to EU competencies.

We believe that his long term, dedicated, consistent actions, statements, campaigns and voting records conveyed as ‘issues of conscience’ aimed at introducing and implementing policies and practices reflecting his views, are not compatible with the fundamental principles and values of the European Union and would prevent him from being an impartial Commissioner. This is especially the case for the public health portfolio.

Tonio Borg’s appointment would be a serious risk to the principles of fundamental rights and a strong signal of departure by the European Commission from those principles.

In view of the above, and the Tonio Borg’s documented track record, we call upon the members of the European Parliament not to support the nomination of Tonio Borg and calling on EU Commission President Barosso to withdraw the nomination of Tonio Borg.


Catholics for Choice

EAFT - European Association of Free Thought

European Humanist Federation

ENAR – European Network against Racism

EATG – European AIDS Treatment Group

ILGA-Europe –European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

IPPF European Network – International Planned Parenthood Federation

PICUM – Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants

The concerns are shared by other NGOs, such as the European Public Health Alliance:



Jacqueline Nolley Echegaray, Senior Associate, Catholics for Choice:
“For Catholics, the conscience holds pride of place among our beliefs. Catholics believe that all individuals, both religious and non-religious, must follow the conscience as their moral guide, while respecting others’ right to do the same. That is why it is so troubling to see a Catholic policymaker such as Tonio Borg who evidently does not believe that others also have the right to follow their conscience, especially in matters of reproductive choice and sexuality.”

Pierre Galand, President, European Humanist Federation:
“Mr. Borg’s candidacy for the Health and Consumer Policy portfolio of the European commission is a threat to the quality of health services enjoyed by European citizens. His nomination would be a disgrace for the European Union. The EHF is strongly convinced that other candidates, who better reflect European values, could be appointed by Malta.”

Chibo Onyeji, Chair, ENAR:
“Mr. Borg’s dismal track record in protecting migrants’ rights and the fundamental right to non-discrimination is incompatible with his role as European Commissioner. He clearly misses the mark in his responsibility to uphold the European Union’s commitment to human rights, and in the area of healthcare this is all the more important.”

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of Executive Board, ILGA-Europe:
“Mr. Borg has proved beyond any doubt that his actions and policies he advocated for are completely incompatible with the role of an EU Commissioner. The European Commission and each Commissioner need to safeguard the implementation of EU treaties and EU law which clearly put respect for fundamental rights and non-discrimination in the very core of the EU values. This is not a reflection on his personal views, but simply ensuring that a new Commissioner has proven track record of upholding the principles and values of the European Union and Mr. Borg had demonstrated completely opposite.”

Vicky Claeys, Regional Director of the European Network, IPPF:
“As European Commissioner for Public Health and Consumer policy, Dr. Tonio Borg will have full responsibility for EU funded health interventions and strategies” says Vicky Claeys, Regional Director of IPPF European Network. “He would have to deal with a range of issues that are important for European citizens such as tackling inequalities in access to healthcare and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. Both areas should include programmes related to sexual and reproductive health, in particular directed to young people and other vulnerable groups such as single mothers and young people, LGBT and migrants. Thus far the record of Dr Borg does not give any hope that, as a Commissioner, he will act unbiased and respect the needs of all Europeans. As a Commissioner he should not be allowed to be a conscious objector”.

Michele LeVoy, Director, PICUM:
“The designation of Mr Borg has been met with strong resistance from a wide number of human rights groups and other actors who share well founded concerns about his suitability as an EU Commissioner. It is unfathomable that a candidate would be appointed whose credibility has been so severely compromised by past political decisions which have been in clear contradiction with the core values of the European Union.“


Catholics for Choice: David Nolan, Communications Director, 202-986-6093

ENAR: Georgina Siklossy, Communication and Press Officer, +32 2 229 35 77,

EATG: Ann Isabelle von Lingen, Policy Officer, +32 491 348 317, and Oleksandr Martynenko, Communications Coordinator, + 32 491 348 312 ,

ILGA-Europe: Juris Lavrikovs, Communications Manager, +32 496 708 375,

IPPF: Irene Donadio, Manager Public Affairs, and Marie-Agnès Lenoir, Senior Communications Advisor, +32 2 250 0950,

PICUM: Kadri Soova, Advocacy Officer +32 496 451 291,


Additional information – briefings on Tonio Borg by various organisations


Media coverage