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Tonio Borg does not rule out returning to PN

EU Commissioner and former PN deputy leader Tonio Borg says he is following national political scene and does not rule out returning to PN when his term is over in 2014.

Jurgen Balzan
30 March 2013, 12:00am
Tonio Borg
Tonio Borg

EU Commissioner Tonio Borg would not be drawn into the PN's internal strife, however, speaking on Radju Malta this morning Borg said that he is following the situation and did not rule out returning to the national scene when his term is over.

During an interview with Andrew Azzopardi, Borg said: "My political beliefs are known to all and they will not change but my position as a European minister demands that I represent the whole country and the other member states."

Borg who is a PN member for life following his stint as the party's deputy leader said that he would be voting in the PN leadership elections but insisted that he would not be taking an active role within the party structures during his tenure as EU commissioner which ends in May next year.

"I follow what is going on in the party but I do not actively participate. Obviously some things I enjoy and other things less and I do follow. As for the aftermath of my tenure, all I can say is that a week in politics is a very long time, let alone a year and a half. In this short period I have to concentrate on my job," he said.

In November 2012, Tonio Borg was nominated by the Maltese government as the candidate to replace former EU Commissioner John Dalli who resigned following a complaint made by the tobacco producer Swedish Match who alleged that a Maltese entrepreneur had used his contacts with Dalli to gain advantage from the company, in return for seeking to influence a possible future legislative proposal on tobacco products. 

He said that the controversial tobacco directive was unaltered and launched by the Commission in December, and with the Parliament's backing the directive's aim to have 2.4 million EU citizens stop smoking within the next five years.

The directive's two main trusts are to make cigarette packaging less attractive and ban flavouring, Borg said, adding that 700,000 people die as a direct consequence of smoking every year in the EU.

Admitting that the smoking lobby is very powerful, Borg said the resistance to the directive was born out of the industry's fears of losing millions in income. He added that he has come under immense pressure from the smoking lobby to legalise the importation of snus, a smokeless tobacco taken orally.

On former EU Commissioner John Dalli, while reiterating that it would not be prudent on his part to enter the merits of the case, Tonio Borg said that he was in contact with his predecessor and his personal assistant during the initial stages of his term.

John Dalli resigned on 16 October 2012 after he was presented with a covering letter to an investigative report by OLAF, claiming he was aware that Silvio Zammit, a political canvasser and businessman, had asked snus producers Swedish Match for €60 million to reverse an EU retail ban on snus tobacco.

Asked whether he defended Dalli at a European level, Borg said: "Everyone must be granted the opportunity to defend himself, let alone an EU Commissioner, but I do not want my tenure to be overshadowed by the case. I am sure that Dalli, OLAF and the Commission President Barroso are capable of defending themselves and hopefully they will be given the time and space to do so. However, I have a job to do and I must fulfil my duties."

He added that it would be ill-considered to comment or take sides, saying: "The case is characterised by too many conflicting reports and complicated court procedures and I will stay out of it as I do not want any comments of mine to be used by one side or another."

The EU health and consumer affairs commissioner said that he is slowly winning over detractors and groups which opposed his nomination. He said the measures introduced in regards animal welfare and food quality were backed by political parties and organisations which had given him a hard time in the run up to and during his grilling in November.

Borg's controversial nomination was approved by secret ballot in Strasbourg at with 386 votes in favour and 281 votes against and 28 abstentions.

He overcame general opposition from gay rights groups, liberals, green MEPs, and left-wing MEPs who at the last minute appeared bolstered by an announcement from the EP's socialists' group that it was calling for a rejection of Borg as commissioner.

Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...
Joseph Borg
Remember what we used to say "do not wake up the (PN) government !
George Muscat
Will there be anything left after you return. Kieku kont ta l-affari tieghek kont titlaq kollox min idejk tinsa il-flus li ser titlef u terga lura halli taqdi dmirek fil-partit tieghek u ghal-patria li dejjem ftahhart biha. Imma sewwa jghid bejn il-kliem u l-fatti hemm bahar jikkumbatti. Proset Tonio Borg. Hemm proberbju bl-ingliz tajjeb ghalik " I'm alright F U Jack"
Rebecca Muscat
After 2014 there might be another battle for the PN leadership.It will be known as, The Clash of the Dinosaurs. It will be held at Jurasic Park at Pieta.
Dan jaf xi jrid????
Janet Chircop Bray
Il-PN ghandhom bzonnok issa. Haffef halli jaghmluk kap u jkollok lis-sinjura Claudette Buttigieg bhala vici. Din tinqala biex tkanta r-requiem.