The European Parliament, meeting in plenary session in Strasbourg, has this evening (at 10.38 pm Melbourne time) approved the nomination of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tonio Borg, to serve as European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs.
The nomination was approved in a secret ballot with 386 MEPs voting in favour, 281 against and 28 abstaining. Upon the announcement of the result, a representative of the European Commission present in the Parliament’s hemicycle welcomed the vote and the appointment of Dr Borg.
According to timesofmalta.com, after the vote Dr Borg confirmed that he would work with all political sectors after the European Parliament voted to back his nomination to the European Commission. Dr Borg followed the voting proceedings from his home in Lija.
Dr Borg in initial comments said his feeling was like somebody who had just passed an exam. He thanked all those who backed him, including the six Maltese MEPs as well as his family and colleagues for their support and said he would work with everyone. He said his first priority would be to pass the new Tobacco Directive.
Dr Borg said he remained true to his personal beliefs, including his opposition to abortion but would always respect the EU Charter. “Despite the attacks made against me and against Malta, the Europeans still trust our country,” he told timesofmalta.com.
His appointment now has to be formally confirmed by the European Council. Dr Borg will then assume his post of EU Commissioner based in Brussels and immediately resign from the Maltese Parliament, resulting in a casual election or a co-option to fill his seat. Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi will also need to appoint a new foreign minister in his cabinet.