MEP Cecilia Wikstrom called Tonio Borg a dinosaur who should not be allowed to become Commissioner.
A new barrage of criticism against Malta's commissioner-designate Tonio Borg has come from Liberal MEP Cecilia Wikström, a Swedish MEP and vicar of the country's Lutheran Church of Sweden, who has dubbed Malta's foreign minister "a dinosaur".
In a transcript of a video interview with Wikström on YouTube, the MEP and member of the European Parliament's civil liberties committee, was unequivocal in her description of Borg - who will be grilled by MEPs from three committees on Tuesday 15 November.
"As liberals we will have to vote against him and I hope other groups will follow, because this is a candidate that non-conservatives can never accept. He is not welcome here," Wikström said, warning that Borg faces a hard slog ahead of him. A member of the Alliance of Liberal Democrats of Europe political group in the civil liberties committee of the EP, Wikström said she had informed members of the environment and health committee (ENVI) to raise their concerns about Borg's political and social views.
Video follows [in Swedish language]
"The nomination of Mr Borg is a scandal. He is a dinosaur that does not belong in our modern world. As a minister for the interior in Malta he was behind the inhumane treatment of refugees from Eritrea," she said referring to the 2002 deportation of over 200 Eritrean asylum seekers to their country of origin.
The twice-divorced MEP also accused Borg of having been against the right to divorce in the recent referendum held in Malta. "I can only say one thing about that: I feel sorry for his wife."
Wikström was also critical of Borg's stance on abortion and the Gift Of Life campaign he unilaterally supported to include its criminal provisions in the Maltese constitution, a campaign that fell flat after Opposition leader Alfred Sant refused to support the GoL campaign.
"He is against women's rights in general and abortion and sexual and reproductive health issues. My guess is that Malta wants to get rid of him and therefore sends him to Brussels. I am ready to take up battle against him. He can have any views he wants of course, but we cannot have a Commissioner for health who is against women's right and rights of homosexuals," Wikström, who is also a member of the MEP intergroup for lesbian-gay-bi-transsexual rights.
Borg has already been taken to task by the LGBT intergroup for MEPs, a grouping of 139 MEPs from the entire political spectrum that wants Borg to answer for his "conservative and outdated" views on abortion, homosexuality and divorce.
Going by a dossier [Opens PDF] compiled by the LGBT intergroup for MEPs, whose members include Labour MEP and gay rights campaigner Michael Cashman and Liberal Democrats leader Graham Watson MEP, Tonio Borg is expected to be grilling on several of his stands and statements which, in the otherwise 'comfortable' setting of Maltese politics had only raised the eyebrows of the 'liberal elite' he once derided.
As he now prepares for a hearing on 13 November before the EP's committee on environment, public and food safety (ENVI) and other bilateral meetings with key MEPs, the LGBT intergroup is asking MEPs to question Borg on his socially conservative views before and during his grilling.
"Tonio Borg's views on abortion, homosexuality and divorce are staunchly conservative and outdated. While not necessarily on topics of EU competence, he views his strong opinions as 'issues of conscience', which would prevent him from being an impartial commissioner - especially with the public health portfolio," the LGBT intergroup's background note on Borg says.