Thursday, 15 November 2012

Independent: Minute by Minute: Borg Leaves Positive Impression
Tuesday, 13 November 2012, 17:38 , by Keith Micallef

The EPP is the first political group to issue a statment on Dr Borg's performance. As expected the EPP has praised the commissioner-designate, whose party hails from this political group. Meanwhile judging from the comments on the social media, Dr Borg's seems to have left an overall good impression, after clarifying some issues regarding sexual discrimination and abortion.

18.22pm Only two questions allowed one of which is on the plain packaging on cigarettes. Dr Borg reiterates his belief that it is up to the member states to decide on this issue.

18.19pm Dr Borg opens up his press point saying that "there is no easy three hour hearing" and praises the level of expertise of the various committee members.

Overall Dr Borg had a good performance with the majority of comments on the social media suggesting he fits the bill to become a commissioner. Next crucial step will be the plenary session of the European Parliament scheduled for next week when his nomination will be put to the vote.

Coming up is a press point by Dr Borg at the end of this hearing.

18.09pm Matthias Groote (S&D), Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety praises Dr Borg for his "expertise and personality" and expresses his hope that Mr Dalli will have access to the Olaf report.

18.06pm Malcolm Harbour (ECR), Chairman of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection concludes saying that Dr Borg has committed himself on various issues, and that parliament will be judging him accordingly.

18.06pm The three hour hearing is now over.

18.05pm "What you see is what you get. There is no hidden agenda". Dr Borg promises that he will hold parliament's decision in high esteem as this is the most democratic institution in the EU. He adds that he will present the "ambitious" tobacco directive in January.

18.01pm Dr Borg starts his final address.

5.57pm Last question of the hearing. Dr Borg is congratulated for his performance. The commissioner-designate concludes by promising to keep in touch with the European Parliament. In his final remark he says that being a parlamentarian himself gives him a slight advantage.

5.51pm The commissioner-designate says that he will certainly not weaken the current tobacco directive while keeping a distance from the controversy surrounding the resignation of John Dalli.

5.46pm With the hearing almost over some have described Dr Borg's peformance as a 'mixed grill'

5.40pm The commissioner-designate remarks that in the past the EU has not addressed health threats holistically but in a rather fragmented manner. He asks whether it is possible to find a way for a common procurement for vaccines.

5.37pm On the issue of GMOs, Dr Borg reiterates that "he will not rush where angels fear to thread" adding that he will not be a slave of EFSA.

5.33pm Dr Borg denies that he has addressed the UN on the issue of reproductive rights as a foreign affairs minister.

5.26pm Last round of questions starts. "I hope your band club affairs will not intefere with your role as commissioner" remarks British Tory MEP Marina Yannagoudakis. Dr Borg assures her that this will surely not be the case.

5.25pm Some tweets suggest that LGBT groups such as the LGBT Intergroup are still unconvinced on Dr Borg's nomination, claiming that his replies were evasive

5.23pm Asked about GMOs, he says that EFSA will be only used to get solid scientific evidence. "No I shall not be a slave of EFSA nor shall I ignore it".

5.18pm On the issue of animal welfare during transport, the commissioner-designate remarks that he is committed for better enforcement for animal transport regulations. He also suggest the use of a gps for vehicles used for animal transport. Dr Borg adds that a new framework directive may be presented next year.

5.15pm Asked about the mad cow disease which some years ago spread across Europe, Dr Borg says that this created huge economic problems in the respective countries. He added that he appreciates calls for the removal of some bans introduced back then as a precaution, but says he will abide by these bans as otherwise this could give rise to a future outbreak.

5.09pm That concludes this round of questions. Coming next are questions from MEPS pertaining to the Agriculture Committee.

5.06pm Another fellow Maltese MEP Louis Grech asks Dr Borg on his views on a holistic consumer policy approach.

5.03pm Dr Borg thanks him for his kind remarks, and says that he will be committed to combat deceitful campaigns especially on the internet.

5.02pm PN MEP Simon Busuttil praises Dr Borg's qualities and refers once more to the band club issue saying that this is very close to their homes, since he is his neighbour. On a more serious note, Dr Busuttil asks on deceptive marketing campaigns.

5.00pm Dr Borg says that the proposal for plain packaging for cigarettes could be effective but says no definite decision has been taken. He says that in Australia such a measure was introduced already. He says he would not favour an imposition of plain packaging across member states.

4.58pm With almost two thirds of the hearing over, the commissioner-designate has been very keen to stress his stance against sexual discrimination. Whether this will be enough to persuade his critics is still to be seen.

4.52pm Meanwhile the chair announces the 'all clear' from the EU legal services regarding any potential conflicts of interests.

4.51pm Dr Borg was asked about his participation in the band club as this was wrongly confused with a pet club!

4.49pm Dr Borg says he occupies no position on a company board which might pose a conflict of interest but says smilingly that he is just an honorary member in a band club.

4.48pm On the issue of the anti-discrimination directive against same sex couples, Dr Borg reiterates that he will support any measure to fight discrimination.

4.44pm Dr Borg's declaration on the LGBT rights framework receives a warm welcome in the social media.

4.38pm Dr Borg says he will support an LGBT rights framework by commissioner Vivienne Reding, if it is in line with Article 21 of the EU.

4.33pm Asked about new initiatives in consumer policy, and whether he will fight against sexual discrimination, he replies that Article 21 has been transposed in Maltese legislation. He added that he has supported this article both in Malta and also in the EU. Regarding new consumer initiatives he denies claims that he is not presenting new measures, referring to product safety and the banking sector. He concludes that it is better to focus on a few initiatives which succeed rather than a long list which will not come through.

4.32pm Regarding the resignation of Mr Dalli, Dr Borg says that he has to be prudent.

4.26pm E.Gebhart (S&D) accuses Dr Borg that he has not given a definite answer on issues of subsidiarity. The commissioner-designate replies saying that he has no difficulties on female quotas.

4.25pm Regarding the harmonisation of consumer laws, Dr Borg says that consumer score boards are good tools to alert consumers as they are a way to "name and shame".

4.18pm Another round of questions is over. The turn now is for the Internal Market and Consumer Policy Committee to field questions.

4.17pm With almost half of the hearing over, the commissioner-designate seems to have weathered the storm well and looks quite relaxed. On the face of it he seems to be having a good showing, till now.

4.15pm S&D Group tweets that Dr Borg will abide by the rules of the commission but will not abandon his views. Soclialists ask which one will take priority?

4.10pm Regarding health claims, Dr Borg urges caution saying that some of them may be unfounded, such as those on slimming products.

4.05pm On the cloning of animals for meat, he says that he will push forward a proposal so that a new directive will be presented by June of next year. He says that the commission has to learn from past mistakes. Significantly he says that "animal cloning for food should be prohibited in Europe".

4.00pm Dr Borg says that the moment that the Eiuropean Food and Safety Agency becomes popular "I will become worried". Dr Borg is stopped by the chair to add a final remark in his reply as he is out of time.

3.56pm Chair urges MEPs to refrain from any remarks or comments. "This is not a football game" he says.

3.55pm Questions regarding abortion surface up again. Dr Borg says he will not seek refuge in the rule of subsidiarity, and promises that he will be bound by the rules of office.

3.48pm The first round of questions is over. The turn now for the Environmental Committee to ask the commissioner-designate.

3.45pm Dr Borg calmely denies some claims about "certain misconceptions on contraception" in Malta reminding the MEPs that today is the international day dedicated for courtesy.

3.44pm Case cited earlier by Dr Borg regarding his stance on the right of a Maltese woman to have an abortion in the UK dates back to 1997.

3.35pm Debate now shifts away from Dr Borg's conservative beliefs and alleged remarks on to other matters.

3.31pm Dr Borg denies any claims that he had offended gay rights during a debate regarding the rent bill reform some years ago

3.30pm Issues regarding Dr Borg's conservative beliefs dominating the hearing, with the commissioner-designate on the defensive for most of the time.

3.25pm I shall not be the Maltese commissioner, but a commissioner nominated from Malta – with the EPP Meps applauding.

3.21pm Asked about some of his values regarding gay rights and abortion, Dr Borg replies that he will abide by the EU treaties and the subsidiarities. He clarified that 14 years ago, in an incident regarding a woman wanted to have an abortion in the UK, he had said that legally she had done nothing wrong. However he reiterated his view against abortion. Regarding gay rights he referred to the new bill against hate crimes, but runs out of time.

3.18pm Asked about the tobacco directive he says that it would be premature to do any promises but says that tobacco products should look and taste like tobacco products.

3.15pm Dr Borg concludes his introductory speech promising his utmost to deliver in the fields of health and consumer policy

3.13pm Dr Borg stresses on his efforts to improve animal welfare across member states.

3.11pm A new package of products safety rules will be submitted by early next year

3.09pm “My priority is to present an ambitious tobacco directive to meet the aspirations of EU citizens”. Dr Borg pledges those present for their support to be able to implement his plan

3.07pm Dr Borg starts his 10 minute introductory speech. He says that that health and consumer affairs are the ‘people’s portfolios’. He says he will do his best to be ‘European’ and that he upholds European values. He says he is proud that his nomination was endorsed by both parties in Malta. He stresses on continuity, confidence and completion of the tasks at hand.

3pm Chair explaining the rules and procedure to be adopted during this hearing

2.50pm The commissioner-designate is scheduled to give a press point at 6pm at the end of this three hour hearing which is due to start in 10 minutes. Meanwhile the room is filling up with MEPs.

2.45pm British MEP Michael Cashman tweets that accusations of 'smear campaign' against Dr Borg are silly. Everything in our briefing = verifiable facts. Up to him to set the record straight.

2.35pm: Prior to this hearing, Dr Borg has already responded to some of the Parliament's questions in writing. Today he will be questioned by members of the environment, public health and food safety committee aided by their colleagues from the agriculture and rural development committee and the internal market and consumer protection committee. Finally, all MEPs will have to vote on a proposal concerning his appointment during a plenary session. This is scheduled to take place next week on 21 or 22 November.

2.30pm: The live hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels is due to start in 30 minutes. The link below provides detailed information on the process to appoint an EU commissioner.


No comments:

Post a Comment