Dr Tonio Borg is likely to take over as European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs following John Dalli's resignation after he was caught up in an investigation into an attempt to influence tobacco policy in Europe.
Dr Borg, current deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Malta, was named by his peers in the Maltese government to fill the vacancy, which has to be held by a representative from Malta until 2014 under the presidency of Portugal's José Manuel Barroso.
Although a new commissioner can be appointed without the approval of the European Parliament and European Council, Barroso yesterday met with Dr Borg and confirmed to Malta's Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi his view that Dr Borg's candidacy should proceed.
This process will include meetings with one or more committees within the European Parliament to assess his suitability and competence, as well as his views on health and consumer affairs, and his predecessor is likely to come up in these meetings too.
Dalli resigned his position after an unnamed entrepreneur from Malta attempted to 'gain financial advantages' from a Swedish tobacco producer in return for using his contact with Dalli to push through legislation relating to the EU export ban on the chewing tobacco snus.
As reported by the Times of Malta, Dr Borg said of his nomination: “I look forward to starting my preparations and to working closely with my colleagues at the European Parliament. I think that close contact with MEPs is crucial for the Commission to produce the best legislation possible for European citizens.”
Other Maltese publications highlighted some of his previous political stances on healthcare, with Malta Today reporting his support for pro-life group Gift of Life in its attempt to 'entrench the Maltese criminal code's provisions against abortion in the constitution'.