Will the European Parliament cave-in to intolerance again?

Dr. Tonio Borg

Do you remember the notorious case of Rocco Buttiglione, the  Italian Christian Democrat politician and academic whose nomination for a post as a European Commissioner was rejected by the European Parliament because of his Roman Catholic views on homosexuality? This was done despite his assurances that these were only his personal convictions and would not dictate his administration. Did you think that was a once-off event? If you did, you were wrong. Here we go again.

Dr. Tonio Borg, currently Malta’s Foreign Minister, is his country’s nominee for the European Commission’s Health and Consumer Policy portfolio, a post recently vacated by John Dalli. Borg’s academic qualifications are in administrative and human rights law and he has decades of experience in his country’s Justice and Home Affairs Ministries.

But Dr. Borg is also a Catholic and, because of this, a coordinated campaign opposing his nomination is in full force. For weeks, a coalition of special interest groups and NGOs has been mounting an aggressive negative campaign against Dr. Borg.

Déjà vu?

On 13 November, the Commissioner-designate will representatives of the European Parliament (which has a quasi veto on the confirmations of new Commissioners). Under normal circumstances, there would be no reason for Parliament to doubt the nominee’s suitability for the post. But this is liberal Europe – and they do things differently there.

In articles, blog-posts and tweets, European Dignity Watch reports,

….his critics— first and foremost the European Humanist Federation, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA)—have focused their attacks on Dr. Borg’s Christian faith and his personal views on issues like abortion, same-sex ‘marriage’ and divorce.

None of these fall under EU competence or have anything to do with the portfolio Dr. Borg would inherit if confirmed. And yet, his opponents, disrespectful of the principle of subsidiarity enshrined in the EU treaties, claim that these are not ‘European values’. They even go as far as to assert that he has ‘extremist values’.

In other words, according to these vocal lobby groups, simply holding Christian beliefs on social issues is a sign of ‘extremism’.

If Dr. Borg’s appointment is rejected it will clearly be done in contravention of Annex XVII of the European Parliament’s own Rules of Procedure, which stipulates that European commissioners are to be designated solely on the basis of their competence and knowledge of their prospective portfolio. Dr. Borg’s personal beliefs thus should not and cannot be used to evaluate his suitability for the post.

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