Fabian Demicoli


Article 246 of the Treaty on the
Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) states that a vacancy in the
Commission shall be filled for the remainder of the Member's term of office by
a new Member of the same nationality appointed by the Council, by common accord
with the President of the Commission, after consulting the European Parliament
(EP) and in accordance with the criteria set out in the Treaty on European
Union (TEU).

Following the departure of John Dalli from the Commission, the
Maltese Government informed the President of the Commission of its intention to
nominate Deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg. Commission President José Manuel
Barroso accepted Appointing a new member of the European Commission the nomination
and this set in motion the process for the approval of Dr Borg as a member of
the Commission. Before taking up the duties related to Health and Consumer
Policy that will be assigned to him by the President of the Commission, Dr Borg
must secure the approval of the EP.

The EP's Rules of Procedure lay down
that the Commissioner-designate is to appear before the appropriate committees
according to his or her prospective fields of responsibility. These hearings
are held in public. In the case of Dr Borg, the relevant EP committees are
those on the Environment, Public Health and Food  Safety (ENVI); Internal Market and Consumer
Protection (IMCO); and Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI). There will be
only one joint hearing.

The committees invite the Commissioner-designate
to make a statement and answer questions. The hearing is organised in such a
way as to enable the Commissioner designate to disclose to Parliament all
relevant information. Provisions relating to the organisation of the hearings
are laid down in an annex to the Rules of Procedure.

Parliament evaluates
Commissioners-designate on the basis of their general competence, European
commitment, personal independence, knowledge of the prospective portfolio, and
their communication skills. 

The public hearing has been scheduled
for November 13.

Once the hearing is over, the
committee members must deliberate and send a joint evaluation to the Conference
of Presidents of the EP which consists of the EP President and the
representatives of the political groups who will then discuss the conclusions.

The new Commissioner is then
appointed by the European Council acting by a qualified majority. Members of
the Commission are normally appointed for a five-year term that may be renewed.
If Dr Borg is appointed Commissioner, he will serve for the rest of the term of
the current Commission i.e. up to 2014.

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