European Commission President Jose Manoel Barroso said today the European Parliament's hearing of Commissioner-designate Tonio Borg had shown he was fully qualified on the substance matter of his designated portfolio.
Mr Barroso made his comment in a letter to the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, in which he also enclosed a letter by Dr Borg replying to concerns expressed by some MEPs.
In his letter, Mr Barroso said:
"May I take this opportunity to thank you, the Conference of Committee Chairs and all the members of the committees involved in the hearing with Mr Borg for the transparent and objective manner in which this process has been conducted.
"I also appreciated the quality of the dialogue I had with you and the Group leaders in the Conference of the Presidents.
"I believe that Mr Borg's hearing has shown that he is fully qualified on the substance matter of the portfolio. In this respect, I note the positive evaluation given by the relevant parliamentary committees. I am confident that this, together with the additional reassurances in the letter attached, will fully satisfy Parliament's expectations.
"We are in the middle of demanding challenges decisive for Europe's political, economic and social future. The European Parliament and the European Commission have a joint interest to proceed without further delays on the important initiatives to be taken in this sector. This is why I think that a positive vote on Mr Borg's appointment is in our mutual interest."
In his letter, Dr Borg said that following his hearing he wanted to reaffirm his strong belief in the innate dignity of all, regardless of their sexual orientation or distinctions outlined in Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
"It is necessary to combat discrimination in a proactive manner," he told MEPs.
"It is for this reason that I believe that for crimes or offences committed on the basis of discrimination, punishment should be aggravated. I am proud to have supported such action and legal requirements for aggravated punishment in the national context and will continue to support at the EU level."
In his letter, Dr Borg also said that he will fight to stop the situation where transgender people were considered as mentally ill and support a non- pathologising reclassification for gender identity in the negotiations on the 11th version of the WHO's international classification of diseases.
The Commissioner-designate for Health and Consumer Affairs also reiterated his commitments on the presentation of important legislative proposals such as the one on tobacco – which led to the forced resignation of his predecessor and on novel foods.
He also said he would support EU policies with regard to women's rights.
Despite giving a very good impression during his hearing in front of MEPs, some groups in the EP, led by the Socialists, had sought written commitments from Dr Borg before they give the Maltese candidate their green light.
Dr Borg's approval process, to be concluded on Wednesday, was met with unprecedented opposition particularly from LGBT and pro-abortion lobby groups.
However, the letter is expected to clear the last hurdle and make it possible for Dr Borg to be given the necessary vote of approval during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg this Wednesday.
See Dr Borg's letter in full on pdf below
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