Sunday, November 11, 2012

Large Pressure on the possible nomination of a Christian for the European Commission's Health & Consumer Policy portfolio

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. With academic qualifications in administrative and human rights law, and decades of experience in his country’s Justice and Home Affairs Ministries, Dr. Borg is an ideal nominee. Dr. Borg is also a catholic Christian and, because of this, a coordinated campaign opposing his nomination is in full force.

On 13 November, a three hours hearing of the Commissioner-designate will take place at 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 for weeks, a coalition of special interest groups and NGOs has been mounting an aggressive negative campaign against Dr. Borg. 


You can help to do something about this situation to share the information below with the press and media and to write to the members of the European Parliament, you will find them all and their contact information here

Read the article further here

Find more detailed information about the case here (article Turtlebay and Beyond)


In articles, blog-posts and tweets, 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’.

This would have certainly surprised the ‘founding fathers’ of European integration, many of whom were devout Christians who based the European project on Christian principles such as subsidiarity, as well as human dignity and solidarity.

The vast majority of European citizens today are Christians. To portray Christianity as ‘extremism’ is hateful and intolerant propaganda. But much of it is disseminated by various NGOs who themselves hold the rather extreme views of a minority of radical secularists, abortion and LGBT advocates. But the message of their sabre-rattling in the lead-up to the hearing is clear: European values are not Christian values—and Christian values are incompatible with European values.

There is a fundamental arrogance in the assertion made by Dr. Borg’s opponents that only views closely aligned with their own can be considered ‘truly European’—that their secularist, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and anti-Christian agenda is ‘more European’ than mainstream views. But this campaign is not about having a public debate on European values, it is about denying a qualified person the right to hold a high-ranking office in the EU because he is a Christian.

The simple fact is that these groups are trying to use the veil of ‘European values’ to advance their own radical agenda. They seem to have forgotten the Preamble of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which speaks of “respecting the diversity of the cultures and traditions of the peoples of Europe.” It also explicitly recognises Europe’s “spiritual and moral heritage”, of which Dr. Borg is a dignified exponent.

Amid all the accusations, Dr. Borg’s critics continue to ignore Annex XVII of 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.

In the days leading up to Tuesday’s hearing, the MEPs on the interviewing committees ought to consider very carefully whether they will be guided by these Rules of Procedure and the broader, democratic ideals of the EU—including religious liberty, as well as freedom of thought and expression—or whether they will simply allow themselves to be cowed by radical special interests and well-funded lobby groups, which hold views that are not representative of the majority of Europeans.

Furthermore, it should be a matter of great public concern that some of the NGOs seeking to classify Dr. Borg’s Christian values as “un-European” are funded by the European Commission itself—such as ILGA Europe, which receives 70% of its annual budget from the EU.

Every year the European Parliament presents its Sakharov Prize to a defender of freedom of thought in the world. Surely, it must be consistent and defend such freedom in its own house as well. Otherwise, the very credibility of the European Parliament is at stake.

Dr. Borg’s values are absolutely consistent with the European values embodied in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. All the vicious, intolerant and hateful attacks made against him should be seen for what they are—a smokescreen behind which radical special interest groups are trying to advance their own agenda. 

See below the practical note made by the Federation of the Catholic Family Associations below.  







3 comments:

  1. I think, firstly, that the majority of organisations (and indeed citizens) are more concerned about Dr Borg's alleged ties to human rights abusers (http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2012-11-06/news/tonio-borg-denies-kazakh-connections-346652672/) and, secondly, that the positions held by the organisations that you mention have very little to do with Dr Borg's religion. The fact that the EU has no mandate in policy concerning gay rights is irrelevant - the point is that it is not in the interest of those who advocate for sexual health and reproductive rights, where the EU does have a mandate under the public health article 168 TFEU, for that portfolio to be lead by someone who holds a position against gay rights and abortion. Adequate defence and protection of public health requires leadership by someone who embraces every aspect of this broad policy area, it cannot afford to be stalled by those who do not wish to advance better sexual and reproductive health outcomes.

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  2. About Abortion:

    On Abortion:
    "The Commission does not assume any positions in favor or against abortion, due to the fact that there is no community legislation in this respect."

    Parliamentary question, 2 December 2011, E-009068/2011

    Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission

    “The Commission acknowledges the differences in national policies and laws with regard to abortion. According to the Treaty of the European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the EU has no competences on abortion policy at national level and can therefore not interfere in Member States' policies in this area. The Commission has not funded studies on consequences of legislation on abortion in the Member States.”

    Parliamentary questions to the COUNCIL, 30 November 2009, E-5125/2009,

    Reply
    The Council would point out that the issue of abortion is the responsibility of the individual Member States, the scope of Community action on health issues being strictly defined by Article 152 of the EC Treaty.

    Questions parlementaires, Commission européenne, 11 septembre 2007, E-3087/2007
    Réponse donnée par M. Frattini au nom de la Commission

    (...) La légalisation de l'avortement relève de la compétence des États membres, seuls compétents pour légiférer dans ce domaine. (...)
    Question to the Commission, H-0239/07, Debates, Thursday, 26 April 2007, Answer
    “The Commission does not assume any positions in favour or against abortion, due to the fact that there is no community legislation in this respect.”

    Parliamentary questions to the COUNCIL, 19 March 2007, E-4955/2006,
    Reply

    “Concerning the right to abortion, the Council would inform the Honourable Member that the issue of abortion from a legal point of view falls under the competence of the individual Member States.”

    Questions parlementaires, 6 avril 2006, E-0720/2006
    Réponse donnée par M. Frattini au nom de la Commission

    « La Communauté ne dispose d'aucune compétence pour légiférer dans les domaines cités par l'Honorable Parlementaire, tels que l'avortement, l'euthanasie ou le «comptage d'avions». Elle se doit par ailleurs de respecter strictement le principe de subsidiarité. »

    The beginning of human life: Human life begins at fertilization as confirmed by the European Court of Justice in its Judgment C-34/10

    “Oliver Brüstle v Greenpeace eV.” of the Grand Chamber of 18 October 2011:
    "The concept of a human embryo applies from the fertilization stage to the initial totipotent cells and to the entire ensuing process of the development and formation of the human body.

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  3. Also this is the case concerning same-sex marriage. If you are for the recognition of marriage between a union between one man and one woman, does not mean that you are against the gay rights (the majority of EU Member states do not recognize same-sex marriage). It is someone's personal freedom to not have the same opinion as the neo-liberals concerning these issues. Gay marriage is not a EU competence.

    The neo-liberal pressure in this case (according to my opinion) is focused on issues that are no EU competences and therefore threatening amongst others the principle of subsidiarity, the freedom of expression, the respect of the diversity of opinions within the EU, the authority of the current Treaties (with their limitations and principle of subsidiarity) and therefore also can be seen as an attack the democratic principles where the EU is based on.

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