Malta: Politician with controversial equalities record appointed EU health commissioner

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European ministers have approved Tonio Borg for the job of the EU’s top health official despite opposition by some Liberal and Green MEPs over the Maltese politician’s conservative views.

EU ministers approved Mr Borg’s nomination a week after a majority of MEPs backed him in a vote.

Mr Borg, a Catholic, is said to have previously argued against gay couples receiving social housing benefits during a debate in Malta’s Parliament in 2009.

He has also been against divorce and abortion rights.

Those found to have carried out an abortion in Mr Borg’s island country can be jailed under Maltese law.

The European Parliament said in a statement that Mr Borg has provided MEPs with written assurances that he would respect the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, the rights of women and gay rights.

However, UK Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies remains wary of Mr Borg’s pledge and told the BBC that he was “not assured that the necessary impartiality would prevail.”

In his new post, Mr Borg will preside over European policy issues such as access to healthcare, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and stem cell research.