Current Affairs
Helena Dalli nominated as European Commissioner for Equality – the PN’s reaction

Former European Affairs and Equality Minister, Dr Helena Dalli has been assigned with the responsibility of Equality in the European Commissioners’ College, led by German Ursula von der Leyen, who announced the portfolios of the nominated Commissioners which still have to be approved by the European Parliament.

Dr Dalli, who is the first woman nominated by the Maltese Government to serve as a European Commissioner, will remain in the same portfolio which she served in during her term in the Maltese Cabinet since 2013, during which she introduced various laws in favour of equality. These included rights for gay persons with the introduction of civil union in 2014 and the legislation decriminalising persons offering some type of service so that a person changes or restricts the sexual orientation of another person.

In her initial reaction, Dr Dalli stated that she is honoured in being nominated for this important portfolio and is eager to start working with the Commission’s colleagues for equality in all sectors.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat stated that with Helena Dalli responsible for Equality, the EC President-elect made a perfect choice to implement the ambitious agenda for equality. Dr Muscat said that Malta’s track record and Dr Dalli’s resolve in the sector are testament to this and this is just the beginning.

In a statement, the Maltese Government welcomed Dr Dalli’s nomination as European Commission for Equality, saying that it is clear that President-elect Ursula von der Leyen selected Dr Dalli to implement the EU’s ambitious vision for the sector due to her excellent track record in the sector. The Government added that this portfolio is proof of the positive change implemented in Malta in recent years and that now – as it is described by respected international institutions – is considered as a ray of hope.

Dr Edward Zammit Lewis, who has succeeded Dr Dalli in the same Ministerial role, said Dr Dalli will prove to be a catalyst for EU Equality. He said that von der Leyen has succeeded in forming a balanced EU Commission. He said the names of portfolios have been changed and for example Dr Dalli will hold a portfolio that has been created for the first time and when her actions are taken into account and that of the Commission’s President mandate the matter of equality will be one of great importance for the Commission. He said it will be interesting to note how the College made up of different personalities will give priority to the EU becoming closer to its citizens and that it has a real meaning to all citizens.

Dr Dalli’s portfolio was announced by President-elect Ursula von Der Leyen while outlining the significance of the portfolios and while for the first time there is a perfect gender balance in the Commission with 13 females and 14 males, contrary to the last edition which contained 14 males and only nine females under the Commission that was led by Jean Claude Juncker. Contrary also to the last five years, the political balance has now tilted in favour of the Socialists with ten Commissioners while the Popular Parties have nine. During the ‘Juncker Commission’ there were 14 Commissioners from the European Popular Party, eight Socialists and a Democrat.

The new Commission’s priorities were also announced. Ursula von der Leyen decided to retain the Dane Margaret Vestager responsible for Competitivity while Dutchman Frans Timmermans will assume responsibility for Climate Change. Irishman Paul Hogan is nominated for future commercial relations with Britain and the United States.

Former Commission Spokesperson for the safeguarding of European Values, Margaritis Schinas will now also have immigration included in her portfolio. However, immigration will also fall under the responsibility of the Commissioner for Internal Affairs, the Swede Ylva Johansson.

Former Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova from the Czech Republic will now be responsible for Values and Transparency while Sylvie Goulard from France has been given the portfolio for the Internal Market and will be the new Director General for the Defence Industry and Space. The Croat Dubravka Suica will have responsibility for Democracy and Demography while the Estonian Kadri Simon has the portfolio for Energy. The Italian Paolo Gentiloni will be responsible for Economic Affairs.

The new EU Commission will begin its functions on 1st November but all the new Commissioners, except the President-elect, have yet to be approved by the EU Parliament after appearing before the respective committees between the end of September and the beginning of October.

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said the nomination of Dr Dalli to the Equality Portfolio reaffirms the Party’s commitment that she succeeds in the scrutiny by the EU Parliament to secure approval. The PN said it will do this in the national interest. The statement added that todate the Opposition has not been consulted on the matter. The Part also expressed its satisfaction that the new EU Commission will have gender balance.

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